Whether you are planning on buying or building an outdoor fire pit, there are a few things to consider, if you are going to make the best of your time and investment. After struggling to find the best outdoor fire pit to suit my needs, here are a few things to consider.
The bowl or tub where the wood will burn is the most important part of any fire pit of course. In an ideal world, the larger the better is the best advice. A larger bowl is more flexible since it can cope with more variety in log sizes, and will allow you to get a decent size fire burning which doesn’t need to be constantly added to.
Of course this might be alright for those with plenty of space, but in a small urban setting you may need to compromise on this. But remember larger fires are easier to keep burning well, so if you can go for something of a reasonable size.
Without air getting into the heart of the fire you will end up with smokey embers struggling to remain alight. Thus you should have either a grill at the bottom of the tub itself, or air holes cut into the sides of the bowl. The one time you don’t need to worry about such features quite so much is if you are choosing a particularly large bowl. In this case there should be plenty of room for air to circulate naturally.
For the best heating, ideally you want a fire to be at knee height or below. That way you can sit around it and get cosy and warm!
Viewing the Fire
There are some amazing fire-places and chimineas on the market. Their main drawback is that you can only see the flames from one side. Fine in some settings, but not so great in the middle of a small patio or deck where everyone wants to sit around the fire.
Storing the Fire Pit
Most will need protecting from the elements (particularly the rain). Many come with covers, though often it is better to spend a little extra on a higher quality cover. Or chose a model which is portable enough to move to the garage when not in use.
You should take into account the safety of your garden for any camp-fire. If placing anything but a high fire pit table onto a wooden surface you will need an asbestos mat placed underneath. Even on grass scorching can be an issue with low tubs. In dry, wooded or windy areas a good spark screen is a must.
There are some very enticing cheap fire pits available. Remember the massive changes in temperature will put a lot of stress on the metal bowl itself. This should be as thick as possible. If you plan on using it regularly it will pay to buy the best quality you can afford.
There are a few models which feature flat inserts so making them usable as occasional or outdoor dining tables.
If you enjoy evenings at the beach, or camping, getting a lighter weight model which will fit in the car is worthwhile. Remember though it will get hot and dirty so consider how often you really will want to man-handle it into the trunk first!
Eating Al Fresco
This is the main reason I wanted a fire pit. As well as providing a focal point, and somewhere to keep warm we use ours for cooking. Now I know BBQs and grills are owned by many. But, personally I find cooking over a wood fire simply more enjoyable. It’s fun, it takes co-operation and it gets the kids away from the TV. Choosing a low tub style fire pit that has a good heavy grill on top means burgers will never be the same again!
Of course your budget will narrow down your choices somewhat. But it is worth bearing in mind the above pointers before making a decision. If I have left anything out please leave a comment below!