Why and How to Use an Outdoor Fire Pit

Why and How to Use an Outdoor Fire Pit

Largely popular in urban areas that have small outdoor spaces, fire pits allow you to create a relaxing outdoor gathering space with the ability to cook small amounts of food while providing a warm central focal point for your conversation areas.


1. Be sure you’re using the pit in a location far away from anything flammable. This means avoiding trees, deck awnings and potted plants. You’ll also want to consider the general moisture of the ground around you. If you haven’t had a rainfall lately consider applying a light spray of water around the area and stay away from very dry grasses.

2. Be careful not to overload your fire pit with too much wood. Overloading will allow the flames to reach too high, potentially burning your guests or getting out of control and spreading beyond the confines of the pit itself. Be sure you avoid pressure treated wood as those emit dangerous fumes which could be toxic to your family.


Fire pits come in three standard forms including rings, pits and tables. What you need depends on your available space, the type of social gatherings you generally have (including the number of people typically present) and whether you need additional table space for holding utensils or food. The rings give more of a campfire feel and are only allowed in areas that don’t have rules against open burning of fires. These pits as a rule are more sophisticated that rings and allow the fire to be contained better. They can be used on patios. Fire pit tables are just fire pits inside a table, which gives you the option to have people eat around it almost in fondue style with their own mini barbecue in the middle. Chimineas are another option that look like small fireplaces. They have a small chimney coming out the top for smoke.

Regardless of the style you choose please be sure to read the directions on the proper setup and use to prevent fires from spreading.

Outdoor Fire

The days are getting shorter, the nights are cooling down and you would like to spend more time on your porch, patio. Consider adding an outdoor fireplace to your entertaining area. Some provide significant heat when required, while others provide an appealing focal point but not much heat. There are fireplaces that look like artwork or furniture when not in use, consider fire pits made of copper or steel. Another option is gas fireplaces such as luminarium, that come in different finishes.

On many outdoor fireplace models, especial firepits are lightweight and portable. Portable units may include features like wood or gas, grill attachments, spark screens, lids, and or wheels, and come in different materials. The different kinds of fireplaces:

Fire Pits:

Pre-made fire pits are the most common form of fire pits and can be purchased from a store. These are commonly made of precast concrete or metal and/or a combination of metal table and stone. They are usually natural gas, propane ( LP ) or bio-ethanol. Wood burning fire pits made of metal are also quite common but under increasing scrutiny due to fire bans and air particulate emissions. Natural gas and propane burners in these sort of prefabricated vessels are certified under ANSI standards. Fire pits have recommended clearance to combustibles and require at least 5 feet above the flame and 16″ circumference from the exterior perimeter of the vessel.

Essentially, to make a fire pit only a hole is required in order to safely contain a fire. This can be as simple as digging a hole in the ground, or as complex as hollowing out a brick or rock pillar. A wood burning fire pit should be located at least ten feet away from structures for safety. The common feature of fire pits is that they are designed to contain a fire and prevent it from spreading.

Fire Rings:

A fire ring is a construction or device used to contain campfires and prevent them from spreading and turning into wildfires.

Fire rings have no bottom and are simply circles made of forged metal, stones, concrete, etc. which surround and contain a fire.

When a fire is to be built somewhere such as on a patio or in a backyard, a fire pit or outdoor fireplace may be better used instead. These are designed to contain the entire fire instead of just keeping it in one place.

A fire ring may be nothing more than a short, wide section of a metal tube, partially buried in the ground. Slightly more advanced fire rings may be partially covered with metal bars so that the fire may be used for cooking. Fire rings in urban areas, such as on beaches, may be made of poured concrete. Makeshift fire rings can be constructed out of a ring of stones where pre-constructed rings are not available, but care should be taken as some stones can explode when heated due to trapped gas pockets, thermal expansion, or water contained flashing into steam.

Fire Places:

An outdoor fireplace is a place for building fires outside of the home. Similar in construction to an indoor fireplace, an outdoor fireplace is usually added to a stone, brick, or concrete patio. It often consists of a firebox and a chimney. As with indoor fireplaces, an outdoor fireplace requires cleaning and maintenance to keep it looking and working at its best. While an outdoor fireplace may not need to be cleaned as often, it will need to be cleaned regularly in order to keep it reasonably tidy and maintained and to remove ash build.

An outdoor fireplace can simply be a decorative element, which allows homeowners to enjoy a crackling fire while entertaining in the backyard.


A chiminea (from Spanish: chimenea means chimney), is a freestanding front-loading fireplace or oven with a bulbous body and usually a vertical smoke vent or chimney.

Historically chimeneas have been made out of fired clay and used for heating and cooking. These traditional designs can be traced to Spain and its influence on Mexico. The first use of a traditionally designed chiminea appears around 400 years ago.

The chiminea was once a daily life necessity that served a domestic purpose. The chiminea of the past was used indoors for heating and cooking, usually by an open window or in the center of the hut or home with an opening in the roof to allow smoke to escape. With the advent of the modern home, chimineas are now used outdoors mainly for entertainment in a backyard setting.