Today on PatioMate we’ll be giving you the best fire pits of 2020. At first glance picking out the best fire pit for you can be overwhelming but we’re here to help.
Fire pits are a great way to recreate that campfire feeling in the garden but there are so many styles, materials, fuel types, and whatnot to pick from.
What you need is something to break down the aspects of buying and owning a fire pit to help streamline your decision making process.
This comprehensive guide will get you started on owning and using a fire pits. Hopefully, it will set you on the path to making the most of man’s greatest tool – fire.
What Different Types of Fire Pits Are Available?
The beauty of something like a fire pit is in the myriad of options you have when selecting one. This guide is here to help you break down fire pits into their core pieces to help you figure out what traits work best for your needs. You can always mix and match though.
Do you want a gas fuelled fire bowl made of cast iron that is surrounded by a stone table? It is out there! How about a metal fire bowl shaped like a partially built Death Star? The options are only limited by your ability to think of them.
A large basin dominates the porch, full to the brim with blazing logs. Your group of old friends sits around its circumference and regales each other with tales of your shared youth. You glance at the fire and are caught off guard by how reminiscent the scene is to those nights spent huddled around a campfire telling ghost stories.
If you relish an old fashioned campfire, but don’t want to have to stray far from home, then a fire bowl is your ideal patio mate. It offers the same benefits of heat and a rugged cooking area, while still being fully contained and therefore safer than the rustic alternative.
What sort of price should you pay?
Budget fire bowls will set you back about £30-50. These tend to be “metal” with powder coated paint and will rust unless frequently repainted.
Mid-range bowls made from cast-iron, steel, or aluminium (and occasionally stainless steel) will cost £50-150 or there-abouts. These will last at least 3-5 years if well maintained.
Luxury and designer fire bowls start at £150 and peak around the £450 mark.
The exception being granite, ceramic, copper or bowls which fetch a premium and you can expect to pay anywhere from £300 to thousands for the privilege of fire (see the death star fire pit — if you’ve got two grand burning a hole in your pocket and you really want to sock it to Governer Tarkin then be our guest!)
Due to their simplicity, fire bowls are a great way to get into the world of backyard campfires. They consist of a shallow dish that can be filled with either traditional fuel, such as wood or charcoal, or with fire glass concealing a gas source. This simplicity also helps keep maintenance to a minimum.
Ultimately, fire bowls are a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. They offer versatility, ease of use, and come in a variety of forms, one of which will surely match the vision you have in your head. Not to mention, some fire bowls can even double as an ice pit, perfect for keeping your drinks cool and close at hand.
Multi-Purpose Grilling Pits
You step onto your patio, and scan the space with irritation. You make your way through the area to get to the yard, and manage to stumble over your grill, ice chest, AND coffee table. You raise your face to the sky and scream, “there has got to be a better way!”
Well, you’re in luck! Multipurpose fire pits offer you the opportunity to maximise a limited space and save you from multiple large purchases.
While a multipurpose pit is great for a nice relaxing fire to sit by, it excels when grilling is involved. These pits typically come with a grill grate of sorts that provides the perfect platform for your steaks or kebabs.
There are a couple things to ask yourself when purchasing one of these pits.
How comfortable is it to cook at? Make sure you get one that sits high enough to cook comfortably. You don’t want to be on your knees or uncomfortably bent over the fire every time you need to flip a burger.
How easy is it to maintain? The ideal pit should have an easy way to remove the grate and get into the container to allow you to remove any bits of food or built up grease.
If you do find another style of fire pit that you find yourself set on, you can always use a separate grill grate to cook with in a pinch.
Fire Pit Tables
You take a seat at the table, drink in hand. A small fire is suspended in the centre and the flames playfully dance within arm’s reach. You rest your forearms on the surface and find it pleasantly warm. You watch the flames for a while, losing yourself in them. Eventually you glance up, and lock eyes with another. You both smile sheepishly through the flames.
In the case of the fire pit table, the fire plays a subtle role as decoration and warmth. These tables tend to sit higher up and have stone or large metal surfaces surrounding them. Fire pit tables are another solution to limited space, albeit with less opportunities to cook.
Gas Fire Pits
The wind begins to pick up and cuts through your sweater. Your elderly parents chat on the patio, too polite to complain or ask for a blanket. You notice a shiver passing over your sweet mother and stroll over to your fire pit. With the spin of a knob and press of a button a fire springs to life, instantly denying the weather its frigid influence.
The beauty of a gas fire pit lies in its ease of use. It takes some skill to light a fire using wood or charcoal, but gas puts the power of fire into anyone’s hands. Some gas fire pits can even be operated remotely! Also, monitoring the fuel is as simple as a quick glance at a gauge. Gas fire pits are the pinnacle of ease and luxury.
One thing to keep in mind when looking into buying a gas fire pit is the cost. Whether using a portable propane tank or installing a dedicated fuel line, gas fire pits can quickly rise in cost. However, this is easily offset by the sheer enjoyment of instant fire!
Permanent or Portable Pits?
An important question to ask yourself when selecting a fire pit is, “am I going to want to move it?”
You may like the idea of a pit built into your porch, but something like homeowner’s regulations or lack of infrastructure might make that impossible.
Alternatively, you may simply prefer to have a pit that can be moved around, stored, or relocated easily. Take the time to learn your space and determine what options you have available to you.
What Are Fire Pits Made From?
Your first instinct may be to select the most aesthetically pleasing fire pit, but here are a few things to think about when choosing a material.
- Are you the type who doesn’t mind cleaning your fire pit regularly, or do you want to buy it, use it, and forget about it?
- How important is look vs functionality?
- Do you want your fire pit to radiate as much heat as possible, or do you want people to be able to touch surfaces near it without getting burned?
- How much are you willing to spend on your fire pit?
Here are some of the most common materials and some important things when considering each one.
Cast Iron Fire Pits
Cast iron pits are some of the most affordable pits and come with a few perks.
Cast iron is known for its stellar heat capacity. This means that it will absorb the heat from the fire in it and radiate that heat evenly over a large area. This also means it will take cast iron a long time to cool down after it has been in use.
Another characteristic of cast iron is its weight. Cast iron is notorious for being difficult to move around, so once you find a spot for your pit you won’t want to move it. That being said, nothing else will move it either including a powerful gust of wind or a rambunctious child.
Steel Fire Pits
Steel offers a strong balance between pricier materials like copper and more rugged materials like cast iron. It also comes in a great variety of forms.
Steel can be bought plain, painted, or powder coated. It is also commonly used in conjunction with other materials such as stone or ceramic. If you choose plain steel be warned that it is prone to rusting without some preventative care. Like with cast iron you can always cover the pit when not in use.
If you decide that you love the weathered look of rusted steel, it is important to inspect the fire pit regularly to ensure it hasn’t corroded all the way through. You can also apply a heat resistant clear coat to protect it from corroding once it has reached a satisfactory level of rust.
The most durable form of steel is powder coated steel. In powder coated steel some paint has actually been melted into the surface of the steel to create a chipping and corrosion resistant outer shell. As always, with increased performance comes increased cost, but it may provide you some peace of mind and a longer lasting pit.
Stainless Steel Fire Pits
Are you tired of worrying about rust forming on cast iron and regular steel? Here is where that ends. Are you bothered by fingerprints and smudges appearing seconds after a meticulous cleaning? Well, you can’t win them all.
Stainless steel offers some of the best balance between the metals. It is corrosion resistant, relatively lightweight, easy to maintain, reasonably priced, and overall durable. There really isn’t anything to complain about here.
Stainless steel comes in polished, brushed, and painted finishes, one of which will surely match your taste. Just make sure to have a polishing rag close at hand.
Copper Fire Pits
Copper is one of the more luxurious metals available for fire pits but holds up incredibly well to the environment and is fantastic for radiating heat.
As time goes on copper will develop a green patina as it oxidises, though this can be just as attractive as a freshly polished fire pit. Copper fire pits offer some of the most incredible aesthetics out there, especially as they age. If you don’t find yourself a fan of the new blue and green tint, you will need to regularly clean your fire pit with specific cleaners.
Some copper fire pits have a coating that will protect them for a time, but this will need to be reapplied once the copper starts to wear. This makes copper a relatively high-maintenance material if you want to keep that original shine.
A copper fire pit will get extremely hot, making it ideal for heating a larger area, but be careful! It is also far easier to burn yourself on this gorgeous material.
Aluminium Fire Pits
With its low weight aluminium is perfect for you if you are the type to constantly rearrange your living space to keep things fresh. The corrosion resistance and durability are pluses too.
Unlike iron based metals aluminium does not rust. It does however oxidise forming a powdery white coating that actually further protects the metal from damage. Aluminium is one of the easiest metals to care for, and with its low cost it’s perfect on a budget.
Ceramic and stone
Ceramic and stone can offer a more organic, authentic campfire feel to them that metals simply can’t match. The will also never rust or corrode, and are about as low maintenance as it gets.
The biggest concern with ceramic and stone is with their fragility. For a moment this might seem absurd, but keep in mind that while stone and ceramics are hard, they are also brittle. Additionally, they are not easily reparable should they crack or chip.
Ceramic and stone also don’t transmit heat the same way metals do. This can be a boon if you want your fire pit somewhere where it will be in closer contact with people. These materials are especially great for surfaces extending off your fire pit.
Top 10 Fire Pits for 2020
🏆 Landmann Big Sky Moons and Stars Fire Pit
Aesthetically Pleasing – Best Seller – Over 125 Sold in 2019!
- Outdoor fire pit with cold - rolled steel sheel and Georgia clay sand paint finish
- 1008-square- cm burn surface; star-and-moon cutouts for night-time ambience
- Large 60 cm diameter bowl, plus full diameter safety ring
- Full-size cooking grate included
- Dimensions 75 × 75 × 58 cm
Fuel Type : Charcoal / Lump Wood Briquettes
Made From : Rolled Steel
Additional : Comes with 5 year warranty
This stunning moon and stars fire pit is ideal for any home. With a 1008 square cm burn surface and the sweet star and moon cutouts adding the perfect nighttime ambience, this is the fire pit of dreams and its beautiful aesthetic will certainly help you dream sweetly.
Made from a cold-rolled steel shell and Georgia clay sand paint finish, this fire pit will be the centre of many wonderful family memories for years to come. The large 60cm diameter bowl and full-size cooking grate make it ample for family meals fireside.
- Beautiful Design
- Fantastic Reviews
- Comes with BBQ Grill
- Incredibly Popular – 25 Sold in December 2017!!!
Landmann Ball Of Fire Pit
Best Overall Fire Pit 2020
Fuel Type : Wood Logs / Charcoal
Made From : Heavy Steel
Additional : Weatherproof Cover
FIRE CAGE! What more can be said about this feature fire pit? A lot, it turns out. The Landmann Ball Of Fire Pit is a great choice for anyone who really loves to watch those flames flicker. With an 86cm wide fire bowl, the fire pit is able to burn both wooden logs and charcoal.
There is a cover included to help keep this monster beautiful all year round. Landmann are immensely proud of their fire pits and barbecues and rightly so, this piece of engineering genius would look incredible paired up with these mystical fire sachets. We think it would be a treat for the eyes at any special occasion. An evening or night time wedding would look incredible lit and heated with a few of these bad boys dotted around.
- Fantastic Design
- Weatherproof Cover
Centurion Large 3 in 1 Fire Pit with BBQ Grill / Patio Heater & Ice Pit
Heat proof steel frame, rust resistant & multi-functional
Fuel Type : Charcoal / Logs
Made From : Steel
Additional : BBQ Grill, Safety Mesh Lid, Poker, Waterproof Cover & 2 Year Warranty
The Centurion large 3 in 1 fire pit is a great all-round fire pit. Perfect for cooking, entertaining and providing heat to you and your family or friends. It’s sturdy but not too heavy at 12.5kg.
We’re big fans of this pit as not only does it offer warmth, you can turn it into an ice bucket or a BBQ grill – all at a price that won’t break the bank!
- Sturdy Build
- Multi-Purpose Fire Pit, Ice Bucket & BBQ Grill
- 4.4-star Rating out of 49 Reviews
- 10% of users left a 1-star rating
Peaktop Outdoor Round Stone Propane Gas Fire Pit with Cover and Lava Rocks
Best Gas Fire Pit 2020
- This fire pit is a wonderful addition to any patio and is sure to provide you and all of your guests with warmth for those mild summer nights.
- Sleek finish, allows it to feature in any garden design
- 3 KG Lava Rock Included
- Supplied with regulator included & 3 metre gas pipe
- 38cm H x 92cm W x 92cm D
- Includes PVC Cover
Fuel Type : Gas
Made From : Polyresin
Additional : Regulator & 3m Gas Hose, 3kg Bag of Lava Rocks, 1 Protective PVC cover
If you’re looking for THE gas fire pit of the year, then look no further.
The Peaktop Outdoor Stone Propane Gas Fire Pit is fantastically styled to look like natural stone. Weighing in at 39kg this beast isn’t light but offers a tremendous amount of heat.
- Comes with everything you need
- Easy to setup
- Covers and extras included
- Fairly heavy, might need two people to move it!
AmazonBasics Portable Folding Fire Pit
No-fuss, tool-free assembly & budget friendly
Out of Stock
Fuel Type : Charcoal / Logs / Solid Fuels
Made From : Painted Steel
Additional : Log grate, cooking grate, carrying bag & fire tool included
This compact and portable fire pit from AmazonBasics is easy to assemble and perfectly portable. Constructed from heat-resistant painted steel, it looks a lot more expensive than it actually is.
If you intend to take this fire pit out and about, then the handy carry bag will come in handy. If you’re not a fan of flat-pack assembly then AB has you covered as this fire pit boasts a tool-free assembly!
- Heat-Resistant Build
- Plenty of Extras Included
- Lightweight & Portable
- Works Well as a BBQ
- None at this Price
Home And Garden Products Large Fire Pit
Great Budget UK Fire Pit
Fuel Type : Charcoal / Logs / Solid Fuels
Made From : Steel
Additional : Fire bowl, mesh cover, charcoal grate, cooking grill, a poker and fold-able legs
This large steel fire pit is everything you need for camping. The fire pit itself is sturdy and comes with a poker, mesh cover, charcoal grate and a cooking grill so that you can barbecue out in the wilderness or the comfort of your own back garden with ease and peace of mind. With a diameter of 52cm, this fire pit will suit group camping expeditions as there is ample space to cook for everyone.
The most notable feature of this particular fire pit are its folding legs making it ideal for travelling, camping and temporary use in the garden if you need the space for other activities. This portable fire pit solution is perfect for those who love the outdoors and prefer to have a safer contained fire when in wooded areas.
- Supplied with an Array of Extras
- Highly Rated
- Good Value for Money
- Prone to Rust Without a Cover
Alfresco Champagne Hudson Gas Fire Pit Coffee Table
Our Favorite Fire Table – Fantastic for Commercial & Residential Users
Fuel Type : LPG / Propane
Additional : 3 year guarantee
The Hudson range of fire tables from Alfresco are something else. An ideal addition to any commercial premises or for the veranda at home.
Made from durable rattan, these mixed stainless steel tables are CE registered for safety compliance and come with a 3 year guarantee.
- Radiant & Convective Heat (12kW)
- Beautiful & Ornate Design
- Quite Expensive
Northwest Sourcing Outdoor Cooking Fire Pit
Multi purpose fire pit built from solid steel – heat tested up to 648ºC
Fuel Type : Solid Fuels / Wood
Made From : Steel
Additional : Comes with hinged door for easy log access & fire poker
The Northwest Sourcing Outdoor Cooking Fire Pit is a stunning piece of garden engineering. Another fire pit with family and pets in mind, a safety guard surrounds this pit and is so cleverly incorporated into the design you would be forgiven for thinking it doesn’t serve an additional purpose.
The guard itself is built around the sides and chimney and is there to prevent wayward sparks from coming free from the fire, this is especially crucial if you have young children or pets in a close proximity to the pit.
Made from solid steel, this fire pit is sure to last the test of time. It has been heat tested to an incredible 648ºC. The porcelain coated grill rack for cooking is adjustable to 3 different levels to ensure you get the best out of your barbecues.
- Highly Rated
- Stylish Design
- Frequently Out Of Stock
Esschert Design Steel Fire Bowl
Best Multi-Function Fire Pit 2020
- With this large fire bowl on a stand you can sit around a roaring fire, anywhere, late into the night with friends
- Fire bowl 23.01 inch 23.01 inch 13.65In
- Black cast iron outdoor bowl
Fuel Type : Solid Fuels / Charcoal / Logs / Coal / Wood
Made From : Matte Steel
Additional : Comes with lid, grills, poker & ice bucket lining, waterproof cover
This attractive square fire pit is far more than meets the eye. You can use it as a standard fire pit, a BBQ or even an ice bucket for those days and nights that are already too hot to handle. The rust-resistant and heatproof frame offers everything you could want in a brazier.
A safety mesh lid allows you to enjoy the memorizing sight of the fire and encloses it for safety as well as preventing sparks coming free. The poker tool, included, can be used to remove the lid and tending to the logs or coal within.
The solid steel build gives it extra support and rigidity to help it withstand both the heat and the ever-changing British weather. Included with this Centurion Supports fire pit are, a poker tool, barbecue grill, safety mesh lid, charcoal rack, instructions and a waterproof cover to help protect from dust, debris and rain.
- Supplied with Plenty of Extras
- Fantastic Multi-Purpose Pit / Brazier
- Reasonably Priced
- Steel is Prone to Rusting – But a Waterproof Cover is Included
La Hacienda 2 in 1 Firebasket Steel Brazier & BBQ Grill
Fantastic budget brazier & BBQ
Fuel Type : Solid Fuels / Charcoal / Logs / Coal / Wood
Made From : Steel
Additional : Comes with 2-year warranty, Powder-coated steel, Ash collecting tray
This clever and stylish log burner and barbecue is another great purchase from La Hacienda. It is made from durable powder-coated steel providing it with a long-lasting and attractive finish. The coating is also less susceptible to scratches and general wear and tear which is great if you need a lot of brazier for your buck (pound but it doesn’t work for the phrase so well).
The timeless colour scheme will coordinate with other garden furniture effortlessly. The La Hacienda 2 in 1 was designed with tidiness in mind with its ash collecting tray to help minimise the workload for you after you’re done with your barbecue. Simple assembly required and easy-to-follow instructions are included, the perfect small barbecue and fire pit for those who want less hassle more fun this coming season. 2 Year manufacturer warranty included.
- Budget Friendly
- Extras Included
- Anti-Rust Coating
- None at This Price
Best Selling Fire Pits
- IDEAL GARDEN ITEM - Adds warmth and ambience to garden spaces. This fire pit can be used to burn dry wood or logs, which are more environmentally friendly than coals and burn far longer.
- PERFECT SIZE - This amazing fire bowl has 3 sturdy legs with fittings to attach them. Its compact size is ideal for smaller gardens, as well as patio and decking areas. Its size also makes it perfect for camping trips.
- FIREPIT MATERIAL - Perfect durable cast iron design. Those made of cast iron material fire pits are superb conductors and radiators of heat, creating warmth even when a fire is dying. Easy to clean and empty.
- MULTIPURPOSE - This outdoor fire pit is ideal for cool evenings, providing cozy warmth, lithe light which makes a beautiful, captivating, comfortable atmosphere. Sturdy design with special pattern ideal for warmth, BBQ and cooling drinks and food in patio/garden/yard
- CONVENIENT TABLE DESIGN: This square fire pit features a 32” wide tabletop around the center fire area allowing for easy access to drinks and roasting supplies.SIZE：81*81*45CM
- SAFE AND SECURE - Features with mesh lid to prevent burning embers blowing; poker can be used to stoke fire and remove the mesh lid. Please feel free to use it in safety!
- Sturdy Cast Iron Construction - Naturally strong with incredible heat radiance and resistance; designed to stand the test of time
- Oversized Bowl Design - Allows for maximum exposure of your fuel to oxygen, meaning easier lighting and a longer, more sustained burn
- Dimensions: Diameter: 75cm Width (inc. Handles): 87cm Height: 38.5cm
- Portable camping fire pit with BBQ grill, folding legs and carry bag
- Use for camping, at the beach or in your back garden
- Camping bowl has mesh lid and wood grate. High temperature black paint finish
- 🔥[EASY TO ASSEMBLE] Simple and solid fire pit design which make sure quick and easy assembly according to the instructions
- 🔥[HIGH QUALITY] Solid and durable steel material be able to withstand rust and heat
- 🔥[CONVENIENT] 4 legs which are fold-able for easy storage. Waterproof cover carry bag for storing the fire pit away when not in use or for packing up on camping trips.
- 2 IN 1 FIREPIT & GRILL: Get your fire started and kick off a brilliant barbecue with this amazing deal! Perfect for grilling your burgers, sausages or chicken breasts (and vegetarian options of course!), this fire pit is conveniently-sized enough to fit in your garden and leave room for the party to go on.
- STYLISH DESIGN: The outdoor garden fire pit is ideal for cool evenings, providing cozy warmth, lithe light which makes a beautiful, captivating, comfortable atmosphere. Ideal for any outdoor gathering, lovers’ bill and coo, parent-child communication or simply sit down alone
- SAFETY LID: The mesh safety lid is specially made to stop embers blowing over your garden - ensuring you’re showered in compliments for your food rather than cinders
- Get a square fire pit with BBQ grill!
- Built to last with solid and durable steel construction.
- Mesh safety lid - stops embers blowing over your garden.
- Firepit logs. Finest quality kiln dried logs and ready to burn. Thinner than standard logs for a hotter burn with less smoke.
- Sustainably sourced. Supplied by Logpile. Logpile plants two trees for every tree used for firewood.
- 100% hardwood logs and kiln dried to reduce moisture content to under 10%. Ready to burn immediately.
- FIRE PIT & BBQ GRILL COMBO: If You Love Spending Time in Your Garden and Enjoy a Good Barbecue Then We Have the Perfect Item for You. The Asab Steel Square Garden Fire Pit With Bbq Grill is Perfect Those Who Love to Sit Under the Stars and Enjoy a Few Glasses of Wine With Friends Around the Warmth of a Fire or When Grilling Burgers, Sausages and Chicken Etc.
- MULTI FUNCTION: This Outdoor Fire Pit is Ideal for Cool Evenings, Providing Cozy Warmth, Lithe Light Which Makes a Beautiful, Captivating, Comfortable Atmosphere. Sturdy Design With Special Pattern Ideal for Warmth, Bbq and Cooling Drinks and Food in Patio, Garden, Yard
- SAFE AND SECURE: Features With Mesh Lid to Prevent Burning Embers Blowing; Poker Can Be Used to Stoke Fire and Remove the Mesh Lid. Please Feel Free to Use It in Safety!
- 81cm x 81cm x51cm
- Brand new With Mesh Cover and Poker
- Easy Assembly
- Easily Portable
- Easy to Clean
- New Design
- 【Upgraded Robust steel construction 】Made of high quality heat proof steel frame,Much more durable and rust resistant.
- 【New Version,comes with BBQ Grill,safety mesh lid,a poker tool and waterproof cover】Can fully preventing sparks and debris flying out when get enough warm without being scald.While using the poker tool to removing the mesh cover or rearranging the logs or coal.
- 【3 in 1 multi - functional】 Can be used as Fire Pit/ BBQ / Ice Pit.It is well equipped for barbecue party at anytime and anywhere as togather with a BBQ grill.But If use it as Ice Bucket,please line the pit with the plastic to stop water escaping.
- Fire Pit Starter Kit. Everything you need to get the perfect fire in your fire pit.
- Includes 20kg kiln dried hardwood, 3kg net of kiln dried kindling, extra long safety matches and firelighters.
- Thinner than standard logs for a hotter burn with less smoke.
- BEST HEAT RESISTANCE - Our Fire Pit Pad deck protector has a heat resistance rating of up to 1300 degrees Fahrenheit! You'll find that it reflects the heat so well that it is cool to the touch. Make sure there is at least 2" spacing between the heat source and your deck.
- PERFECT SIZE FOR ANY FIRE PIT - Our Fireproof mats work within a tolerance of 4" so whether you have a small fire Pit of 24" or Large 36" we have a size that's right for you! Make sure you center the Fire Pit Mat directly under your Fire Pit / BBQ.
- LAWN, DECK PROTECTOR - Whether your surface is wood, composite, stone, concrete or grass you can be rest assured our Fire pad will protect your patio surface from burns, heat damage, heat deformation, grease spills, cement stains and more!
Last update on 2020-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Fire Pit FAQ’s
Fire Pit General Use Guide
How to Light a Fire
You carefully arrange a small bundle of shredded paper and twigs. With the strike of a match you ignite your pile and carefully add larger and larger pieces of wood until the fire is self-sufficient. You take a step back, a grin tugging at the corner of your mouth. A feeling of primal satisfaction washes over you, knowing you have created something from nothing. Well, nothing except a little patience and know-how.
If you are looking for a simple, but effective, way to start a fire, look no further than starter fluid, also known as lighter fluid. Douse your logs in the fluid and with a match or lighter ignite the edge of pile of wood. Make sure to keep your face and hands away from the pit as much as possible to avoid being singed by the initial burst of flame that can occur.
This may take a couple of tries, especially if your firewood is not seasoned. Avoid pouring lighter fluid onto an existing flame, as rarely it can burn all the way back up the stream to the bottle. Also, be very careful to keep all the fluid in the pit. If you do happen to spill, simply wait a few minutes for the fumes to dissipate before introducing any flame into the area.
Perhaps you particularly enjoy the little extra effort it takes to start a fire from a match and a bit of tinder. Maybe you have had a bad experience with lighter fluid. One of the biggest perks to going old school is the amount of control you will have in the process. By having to manage each step you become more aware and in tune with your fire, making it easier to manage as the evening wears on.
To start, gather some paper, newsprint, or other fine, flammable material. Steer clear of glossy printed paper as it produces some noxious chemicals as it burns. Shred and crumple your tinder into a loose ball.
Stack small sticks and twigs around the bundle in the shape of a tent. Light the base of your tinder and gently blow on the flames. You should blow with the same force you would use to ruffle the seeds on a dandelion without sending them soaring. As the twigs catch alight slowly add larger pieces of wood and wait until those too are on fire. Repeat this until the fire is as large and hot as you want it to be.
As you look away, an ember makes a break for freedom from the fire with a snap. It tumbles through the air before settling on your outstretched leg. You feel a sharp pain, like a bee sting, and spring to your feet while shaking your leg to get the ember off.
It falls to the ground and fades cold, your friends laughing at your ridiculous dance. One of them reaches over and grabs the metal mesh cover and places over the fire. The next ember desperate to escape won’t be so lucky.
Fire pits are the most pleasant when the only thing burning is the fuel inside them.
Here are a few things you can do to make enjoying your fire pit as safe as possible. Bear in mind that this won’t cover every possible scenario, but it will cover the basics and get you thinking about the inherent risks of managing a fire.
Keep an extinguisher handy!
One of the most important things about making a fire is having a way to put it out. The best option available comes in the form a fire extinguisher. Make sure that it is full and hasn’t reached its expiration date as well. Fire extinguishers come in a variety of types with each being used for different scenarios. It is best to research and know what type is best for the fuel you typically use before the need could ever possibly arise.
At the very least, keeping a bucket of water on hand provides a quick and easy way to douse errant flames. Keep in mind the rapid cooling could cause warping or other permanent damage to your fire pit, so avoid dumping water directly into the pit if possible. A bucket of water works best in situation where fire escapes its enclosure, but hasn’t ignited anything else.
Use a metal cover over the fire!
One of the simplest solutions to keeping a fire contained is to use a metal mesh cover over the fire when you aren’t adding wood or cooking. The cover will still allow the fire to get plenty of air and burn strongly, but will restrict its size and stop any mischievous embers from escaping.
Keep anything flammable away from the pit!
This tip is especially important if you have a metal fire pit of some sort. The metal on your fire pit can reach hundreds of degrees and can be plenty hot enough to ignite fabrics, dead leaves, or other flammable materials in their vicinity.
Make sure your fire pit is on a solid, fireproof surface, and keep the area clear of anything that might burn. Also keep loose, thin clothing secured when adding wood or working near the flames.
Be careful what you burn!
It can be tempting to toss things such as paper plates, napkins, or other bits of trash into a fire, but this can cause unnecessary hazards. Burning trash tends to flake apart and be easily picked up by the wind. It can then be carried to where it can potentially start a fire. The only thing you should burn in your fire pit is standard fuels, such as wood or charcoal. This especially holds true for gas burning fires as they are built not to produce ash so any that is created is difficult to remove and can clog fuel lines.
Now this might catch you off guard, but not all wood is safe to burn. This may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, especially when considering some fire pits are marketed specifically as “wood burning.” A few types of wood to avoid are:
- Green wood – it doesn’t burn efficiently.
- Pine or other sap filled wood – it produces a lot of smoke and sparks.
- Construction wood – it can contain chemicals you don’t want to breath.
Here is a more extensive list of woods and their burning properties to help you get started in picking one that will work best for you.
There are plenty of things to remember when it comes to fire safety, but most of them can be boiled down to three things.
- Be aware of the fire and everything around it.
- Use common sense at all times.
- Have multiple fail-safes in place.
Just think, the safer of an environment you maintain around your fire pit, the more you will be able to enjoy it.
Keeping the Fire Going
As you are enjoying the blaze in your fire pit, you notice it has started to die down a bit and isn’t putting out the same amount of heat as it had been a while ago. You now stand at a crossroad. Do you add wood immediately and risk an oversized bonfire, or do you wait and risk passing a point of no return which would mean relighting the fire from scratch?
This skill is best learned through experience. The more fires you make, the more you will be able to intuitively stoke and maintain the fire. Here are a few things you can watch for to know when to add wood to your fire.
If your fire isn’t producing much flame but still glows and radiates heat it means you have a strong coal bed. At this point use a stick to gently expose those coals and add wood to the fire.
Another thing to watch for is the color of the heart of the fire. A light orange, white, or blue core indicates plenty of heat and fire. You should add more wood if the radiance starts to fade.
Short of dousing your fire with water, it is actually fairly difficult to let a fire die down to the point where it won’t easily ignite wood placed on it.
Again, practice is your best friend. Get out there and make some fires. Intentionally let them burn out.
Stack the wood in different ways and observe the effects. The best way to learn is by doing.
When the Fire Dies
It’s the end of the evening. The beer has been drunk, the food has been eaten, and the people have dispersed. You let the fire burn out as you pick up the trash. The next morning you notice some wisps of smoke rising from the fine ash. Could there still be some hot coals in the fire pit?
There are a few simple things you can do after having a fire to make sure that everything is properly put out and cooled. The first thing you can do is to place a solid metal lid over your fire pit. This starves the fire of oxygen and will quickly smother it.
Once you are sure the fire is out, check to see how much ash and unspent material remains in the pit. If the ash is starting to fill it up, scoop it into a separate metal container. You will want to let your ash bucket sit for a few days to guarantee everything has cooled to the temperature of its surroundings. You can now dispose of the ash in the trash, or even use it as a fertiliser.
Best Fuel for Your Fire Pit
The most commonly used fuels are solid fuels such as wood, charcoal, or artificial logs. What you decide to use will depend on the purpose of your fire. Charcoal is ideal for grilling, while wood is more pleasant to watch and has more distinct flames.
If you want a fire quick and easily, artificial logs, made of sawdust and wax, are always an option. They are aesthetically pleasing, and can offer unique fire characteristics, such as being smokeless.
Maybe you hear “campfire” and shudder at the idea of constantly adding fuel, worrying about ash and embers, or are simply daunted by the idea of lighting a fire from scratch. At the same time, you love having a gathering point for grill-outs, and have always enjoyed the bonfires others have started. By running a gas line into a fire bowl filled with lava rock or fire glass, you can start a clean burning and consistent fire instantly.