Best Fireplace Bellows

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

23 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
305 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best fireplace bellows

Last Updated December 2019

Back in our school days, we all learned that it takes fuel, heat, and oxygen to maintain a fire. Remove one, and the fire dies. So, if your fireplace is hot and you have plenty of wood, oxygen could be the culprit. This is where a fireplace bellows can come in handy.

A fireplace bellows can quickly breathe new life into your fading fire. This hand-operated tool literally fans the flames with a steady supply of oxygen. Used correctly, a bellows can transform dying embers into a blazing inferno in seconds.

A fireplace bellows is most convenient to keep near the fireplace, so it must fit the ambiance of your room. Do you have a rustic, old-fashioned hearth? Or is your space more contemporary? Either way, the perfect bellows for your fireplace is out there.

Fireplace bellows vary in size, materials, and overall appearance, so choosing the right one takes some consideration. To learn more about the types of fireplace bellows available, continue reading our buying guide.

Make sure your fire has plenty of dry kindling at the base of the wood stack — it’s essential to getting your fire started, with or without a bellows. Without quality kindling, you can’t generate enough heat for your bigger logs to catch fire.

How bellows work

Most fireplaces bellows consist of a flexible central chamber flanked by two wooden side panels. Each wooden panel tapers to a handle that extends beyond the top of the chamber. When you use the handles to expand the bellows, it pulls in air through a small hole. When you compress the handles, it forces the air out onto the fire. How much air is released, and how quickly, depends upon the size of the bellows.

If your fire has plenty of wood but you can only see a few embers or small flames, a bellows is likely the quickest way to get your fire blazing again.

Key considerations

Size

Fireplace bellows that are standard in size are more efficient and effective than smaller tools because they move more air with each compression. Most standard-size fireplace bellows measure 17 to 20 inches long and 7 to 10 inches wide.

If a standard bellows gets the job done well, why would anyone want something smaller? Well, there’s a reason blacksmiths in movies and TV are always depicted as brawny. The wood panels in a quality bellows aren’t light. And the larger the bellows is, the heavier they get.

If you’re concerned about lifting and holding your bellows steady, a smaller model may be a better choice. Smaller versions usually measure 12 to 15 inches long and 5 to 7 inches wide. A smaller bellows may require a few more compressions than a larger one, but its lighter weight means you’ll have the strength for it.

Handle length

In addition to considering the size of the bellows itself, it’s important to look at the handle length. Handles that do not extend much past the chamber may not provide much leverage when compressing the bellows. This means you’ll need to press harder or use more compressions to fan your flames. Bellows with longer handles, however, more efficiently compress the air from the air chamber. This means you’ll shoot out more air with less effort.

DID YOU KNOW?

Bellows have been used to fan flames since the 900s BC.

Features

When a tool is regularly exposed to heat, quality materials make a big difference in its durability and usable life.

Chamber

Some manufacturers use synthetic materials to make the chamber of their bellows. These materials may be listed as faux leather, synthetic leather, or leatherette. They are usually made from vinyl, plastic, PVC, or other manmade materials. Bellows made from synthetic materials are usually less expensive, but they are not as durable and do not hold up to heat as well as those made with leather. If you’ll use a bellows only occasionally, a synthetic fabric bellows may fit your needs and your budget.

If you want a fireplace bellows that lasts for years, you should buy one made of genuine leather. Leather bellows don’t crack and peel like those made with synthetic materials. They retain their flexibility over time, especially if you treat them with oil occasionally. Keep in mind that you’ll pay more for this kind of quality.

Panels and handles

Fireplace bellows panels and handles can be made from almost any kind of hardwood, such as maple, oak, or walnut. The thickness of the wood is more important than the type of wood. Unless you’re buying a bellows strictly as a decoration, this tool is made for action — you’ll be compressing it with some force. Bellows made with solid wood are stronger than those manufactured from compressed wood or particleboard.

Nozzle

The nozzle of a bellows will be closer to the flames than any other part, so it needs to take the heat. Nozzles should always be made of metal rather than a combustible material that could catch fire if the fire suddenly flares.

The best bellows nozzles are usually made of brass. Brass is ideal because it can take high temperatures and resists corrosion better than other metals. If the nozzle gets sooty, you can clean it off with a damp cloth. Brass is also more malleable, meaning it does not crack or break easily under pressure.

Some manufacturers make bellows nozzles out of zinc, which is one of the metals used to make brass. Zinc is tough as well, but it’s more prone to corrosion. It’s also more brittle than brass, so it may not hold up as well to force.

Appearance

If you plan to display your bellows on the wall when it’s not in use, keep the following features in mind:

  • A hanging loop lets you show off your bellows easily and ensures you’ll always know where to find it. Hanging loops may match the material used to make the air chamber. Make sure the loop is strong enough to support the weight of the fireplace bellows.
  • If you plan to hang your bellows on the wall, make sure the handle on the side with the loop is flat rather than curved. Otherwise, the tool won’t rest flush against the wall.
  • Many bellows have ornate decorations involving multi-colored wood, carved designs, and ornate nail heads. Make sure that the one you choose complements your hearth.
  • A large bellows may be distracting when displayed next to a small fireplace. Likewise, a tiny bellows looks silly next to an oversized hearth.

Using fireplace bellows as a decoration dates back to at least the Tudor era of England, where many bellows were adorned with rhymes and mottos.

Accessories

Wood fire pit: Landmann Super Sky Fire Pit
Not every house has a fireplace, but every yard can have a fire pit! This crowd-pleaser features a 3-foot stainless steel burn bowl adorned with rustic cutouts. Continuous handles make this fire pit easy to move, while a spark guard keeps you and your guests safe anywhere you take it.

Marshmallow roasting sticks: MalloMe Premium Marshmallow Roasting Sticks
No fire is complete without a generous helping of ooey, gooey marshmallows. These roasting sticks from MalloMe make sure your marshmallow is the only thing that gets toasted. Cool touch handles keep your fingers safe, while telescoping sticks keep plenty of room between you and the flames.

Fire starters: The Friendly Swede Magnesium Flint fire starter
Even with a fireplace bellows, you’ll need something to fan. Start a fire with ease in any weather with this fire starter bar from The Friendly Swede. It comes with everything you need to spark your kindling.

Fireplace bellows prices

You get what you pay for when it comes to fireplace bellows. Those who use a bellows only occasionally may be able to get by with a bellows made from less expensive materials. If you plan to use your bellows as more than decoration, however, you should consider investing in a bellows made from high-quality components.

Inexpensive: Budget-minded customers who need a bellows from time to time can find smaller fireplace bellows starting around $15. At this price, the bellows chamber will be made from synthetic materials and the sides from thin hardwood panels or pressed wood. 

Mid-range: If you want a fireplace bellows for more frequent use, you’ll need to pay between $20 and $50. Bellows in this price range will be made from solid wood and have air chambers made from thicker synthetic leather or thin natural leather. 

High-end: Customers who need a fireplace bellows that’s a real workhorse should expect to pay $75 or more. If you’re paying this much, you should be getting quality materials for your money. The handles and sides are usually made from hardwood, and the chamber is typically made from genuine leather or suede. The nozzle, as well as any metal trimmings, should be made from brass to keep it looking good and working well for years to come.

DID YOU KNOW?

Bellows may also be labeled as “fireplace blowers.”

Tips

  • A well-made fireplace bellows isn’t lightweight. If it’s challenging to hold still while aiming at the fire, try resting the metal tip against the grate — or a log that’s not yet burning — for stability.
  • If you hang your bellows near your fireplace for storage, make sure it’s not exposed to high levels of heat. This will prolong its usable life.
  • You can use your bellows outside to assist with fire pits and bonfires. Just make sure to bring it back inside because moisture can damage its components.

Other products we considered

If you didn’t find what you were looking or in our top recommendations, we have a few other fireplace bellows to consider.

This high-end NAPA FORGE Pilgrim Home and Hearth bellows would look right at home next to an oversized fireplace or wood-burning stove. This classy bellows boasts wood construction, a cast nozzle, and rich black leather. It’s slightly larger than a standard bellows, measuring more than 2 feet long.

If your space requires something a little smaller, we like the looks of this Redneck Convent Accordion Bellows. At just under 16 inches long, it’s great for smaller spaces or for a camping trip. It comes with a synthetic leather loop for hanging.

You can also use a fireplace bellows to improve the flames in a charcoal grill.

FAQ

Q. How do you use fireplace bellows?
A.
It depends upon the stage of your fire. If you’re just getting started, aim the nozzle at any kindling that’s glowing and gently blow air at the embers. This will infuse the area with oxygen and help kindle the flames without snuffing anything out. But if your fire is dying out, you’ll want to aim the bellows at the base of any glowing logs and compress more aggressively. At this phase of the game, you already have heat and fuel — oxygen is most likely the ingredient that’s lacking.

Q. How can I make sure my bellows lasts?
A.
One rookie mistake many users make is to expand their bellows too close to the area where they’ll use it — the fire. This hinders you in two ways. First of all, there’s not a lot of good oxygen near the fire — that’s why you need to use the bellows in the first place. Second, you can suck in hot air and ash. Hot air is especially bad for bellows made with synthetic materials that can peel and crack with too much heat. Hot ash or pieces of embers can actually burn holes through the material, damaging your tool.

Q. Do I need to clean a bellows?
A.
It’s a good idea to wipe any ash or debris off your bellows using a damp cloth from time to time. However, heavy water exposure can damage organic materials like wood and leather. Don’t wash it as you would a plastic or metal tool. It’s a good idea to treat the leather portion with a quality leather conditioner every other year to keep the material flexible. Likewise, oil the wooden parts with the same frequency.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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