Can You Use Charcoal in a Fire Bowl?

Fire bowls are an increasingly popular outdoor heating solution for many homeowners and businesses alike. Not only do they provide warmth and ambiance to outdoor living spaces, but they are also cost-effective and efficient. One of the most common questions related to fire bowls is whether you can use charcoal as a fuel source. In this blog post, I will discuss the pros and cons of using charcoal in a fire bowl and provide some tips and guidance on how to safely use charcoal in your fire bowl. Whether you're just starting to research fire bowls or are an experienced fire bowl user, this blog post can help you make the best decision for your outdoor heating needs.


Is Burning Charcoal Toxic?

Burning charcoal in a fire bowl can be just as safe as burning wood in your fire bowl. One of the biggest concerns related to burning charcoal outdoors is its toxic nature. When exposed to air, charcoal releases dense black smoke that contains carbon monoxide and carcinogens. The smoke caused by burning charcoal can be harmful for both humans and pets. If you are interested in using charcoal in a fire bowl outdoors, make sure you choose a location that is far from your home in case of any complications from the intense smoke created by burning charcoal. It will help reduce any potential risk to you and your family.
Also, be sure to monitor children or pets that may get too close to the fire bowl while charcoal is burning. As I mentioned, burning charcoal in a fire bowl is just as safe as burning wood when appropriate precautions are taken. Make sure you take the time to locate a fire bowl location away from your home and that all occupants of your home are aware of the location of the fire bowl should any complications arise from using charcoal in the fire bowl.
You can also take steps to avoid breathing any harmful smoke by monitoring the burning process closely. The amount of smoke produced by burning charcoal is generally not a problem while the fire bowl is being lit. However, once the fire bowl is lit, continuous monitoring of smoke may be necessary to ensure there is no buildup of harmful smoke in your home.


Why Would You Want to Use Charcoal in a Fire Bowl?

Unfortunately, some people do not have the time or money to invest in traditional hardwood fire logs. Hardwood takes a long time to dry and season, and there are a lot of factors that can affect its quality as fuel when burned. In certain areas of the country, hardwood logs may be less readily accessible or more expensive than charcoal briquettes and wood pellets. Charcoal is often cheaper, more readily available and easy to stack and store. If you need an alternate fuel source but don't have time or money for hardwood logs, charcoal is a great fire bowl fuel.
Charcoal is also an effective and fast-burning alternative to wood for a fire bowl. One of the main advantages of charcoal is its ability to fuel fires quickly, which helps save money on your overall cost. You can expect a fire bowl burning with charcoal to take only 15 – 30 minutes total to ignite and last for up to 2 hours. Additionally, it is much easier and safer for your family or pets to be around a fire bowl burning with charcoal than a traditional wood fire in your fire bowl. It makes lighting your fire bowl easier and safer for anybody nearby.


How Do You Start the Charcoal?

Prior to adding charcoal to your fire bowl, you should ensure that the fire pit is prepared for burning. If you are using a metal or ceramic bowl, make sure that the area around the fire pit is free of any combustible materials. It will help ensure that the fire bowl does not overheat or crack. Make sure there's enough space around the fire pit so your family may move freely while using it.
Charcoal is easy to stack and fuel, making it an ideal alternative to other fire logs. If you are interested in using charcoal as a fuel source for your fire bowl, be sure to use a recommended brand and size of charcoal that is specifically designed for use in outdoor fire bowls. Using charcoal designed for grilling may damage your fire pit and potentially release harmful chemicals into the air during combustion. Be sure that there is no grass or other flammable materials surrounding the fire ring.


How Long Does It Take to Light the Charcoal?

It will take approximately 30 – 45 minutes to fully light and burn through your fire bowl fuel source if you are using natural hardwood logs. As with any fire source, you will need to use extreme caution when lighting the fuel in a fire bowl. It is always best practice to have a fire extinguisher on hand for safety purposes, especially if children or pets are nearby. It is also important to monitor the fire carefully when it first begins burning once you have added fuel from your hardwood logs.

The charcoal and natural hardwood logs will burn at different rates, so it is important to carefully monitor the fire each time you add more fuel. The charcoal may burn faster than the natural hardwood logs and may need to be replaced if it burns out inside your fire bowl. It is important to be aware of how much fuel is in your fire bowl at all times and to be prepared to add more fuel if needed. Remember that fire bowls are meant to burn fuel inside the bowl, not as a heat source.


How Long Until a Fire Is Lit?

Most people buy fire bowls as house decor, but there are additional considerations to consider. The shape of the fire bowl will also affect how easy it is to clean your fire pit after burning. The average time it takes to start a fire varies widely depending on the size and shape of your fire bowl. It may be harder to create a fire in a larger fire bowl because you'll need more wood logs as they won't fit. However, once the logs begin burning, they create very large flames in comparison to other shapes of fire bowls that hold fewer logs at one time. More fuel also means a longer burn time for the fire bowl.

If you are using natural hardwood logs, you should expect it to take more than 4 hours to fully light. To maintain a proper fire, you must closely monitor the logs as they burn away. Additionally, be aware that there is always a risk of combustion with any type of fuel source in your fire bowl.



Using charcoal in a fire bowl is a great way to create a cozy atmosphere in your outdoor space. It is important to remember to use the right type of charcoal and to ensure that your fire bowl is properly ventilated to prevent the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. With proper safety precautions in place, you can enjoy the warm glow of your fire bowl and the inviting aroma of charcoal.

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