What's New with the Fire Rings? And Why?

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What's New and Why? 

On Tuesday, January 13, the Newport Beach City Council voted to once again allow wood to be burned in some of the beach fire rings near the Balboa Pier and at Corona del Mar State Beach.

Please know, though, that we have not yet realigned the rings (or painted them) to show which rings can have wood versus charcoal. We hope to get these designated within 10 days - by January 23. Marking the rings to show which can have wood versus which must have charcoal is important because wood-burning rings are required to be at least 50 feet from another wood-burning ring. Our rings currently are closer together than that.

We appreciate your patience as we get the new wood program implemented. As always, when you do burn wood on or after January 23, please use firewood not contaminated by paint, nails or other materials that can be harmful. If you have any questions about this, don’t hesitate to ask us – please e-mail questions@newportbeachca.gov.

Charcoal Only Fire Rings

Visitors to our beaches will find a change in the fuels you can use in some of our 60 fire rings (27 at Big Corona and 33 at the Balboa Pier area). Some allow only charcoal to be burned. Your experience may be a little different with these rings – you will find a more even heat, even a longer heat and more heat, and almost no smoke or smoky smell. Cooking dinner seems much better over charcoal.  Your eyes won’t sting and your clothes won’t smell like smoke for hours afterwards. If family or friends have asthma or respiratory problems with wood smoke, they might find charcoal to be a much better experience. But the flame is less – and eventually charcoal moves to glowing coals.

What's the Best Charcoal Experience?

Purchase a bag or two of “lump” charcoal at Target, Home Depot, Lowes, the supermarket, or a similar store. It should be about $13/bag. We’ve found that the best kinds are Royal Oak, Cowboy, and Hardwood – again, all “lump” charcoals (not briquettes). You do not have to use lighter fluid either – to avoid the lighter fluid smell, pick up a small carton of paraffin starters (you’ll find these at Home Depot and other places – they’ll be about $3.50 for a box of 24 starters). Just 3-4 starters will get your fire going. Pile the charcoal a bit, with a peak in the center, place the 3-4 starters around the pile, light them, and enjoy good consistent heat for about two hours with two bags of lump-style charcoal (click here for some samples of lump-style charcoal).

 Charcoal Only
 Advantages Disadvantages
  Much less visible smoke  Less visible flame
  Much less smell of smoke
   - More warmth
   - Warmth lasts longer
   - More even warmth for cooking
 Lighter fluid smell
   - Paraffin starters solve this problem.
  Fuel is lighter and easier to haul across the sand  
Easier to start with paraffin starters
Easier to find and purchase
Less likely to have other hazards burned or left in the rings
 - like nails, creosote, paint, plastics, and varnish.

Your experience won’t be as good if you purchase briquettes or keep dumping lighter fluid on the charcoal. 

Smoke Free Beach


  • To read more about the charcoal-only rule, click here to read about the Air Quality action.  
  • After you have visited, let us know what you thought about the charcoal experience – e-mail us here questions@newportbeachca.gov


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