The bricks on top eventually get pretty hot, too hot to touch but not like glowing, just hot. The walls also get hot but not as much. As far as smoke goes, I think anytime you start a fire you are initially going to get smoke until the fire gets really going. I find that the drier the wood the less the smoke. I also find that whenever I add some wood it starts to smoke until that piece gets going. When the fire is going well, there is no smoke.