Outdoor fire pits emit images of family and friends sitting around a warm fire, laughing, relaxing, and sometimes cooking favorite snacks. Fire pits at home and in the backyard can be used year-round without going to parks, camping grounds, etc. Fire pits of all types are a beautiful architectural landscape for homeowners.
There are varied types of fuel-induced fire pits:
• Gel – Gel retardant fueled fire pits are started by using gel blocks that are lit with a grill lighter and when the blocks are consumed (6 to 30+ hours), then the flames go out automatically.
• Natural Gas – natural gas fire pits require a connection to a gas line.
• Propane – propane fire pits are connected to a propane tank. It is designed with an ignition switch.
• Wood burning – wood burning fire pits are similar to a camp fire experience. You build a fire with wood materials as the fuel.
All fire pits require safety and operating precautions. Let’s begin a fire pit discussion with wood burning fire pits. The right type of a wood burning fire pit location is a first start to enjoying outdoor fun. A wood burning fire pit, like a natural campfire, should be several feet away from the home or other structures, about ten feet away.
Never design or build a fire pit near low hanging trees, bushes or under a homes’ eaves. A healthy camp fire in a fire pit should begin in a clear, wide open area and perhaps with a covering like a screen. A healthy camp fire in a fire pit can be affected by winds, even if the winds are slight.
Therefore, keep fire retardant safety tools nearby. For example, keep a bucket of water or have a water hose connected nearby. You can also use sand or dirt close at hand, or a fire extinguisher because the goal is to smother and extinguish escaping flames.
Before you prepare to start your fire in the pit, clear away all extraneous debris. Clear all the leaves, excess twigs, paper materials, excess grass or anything that could become combustible if a spark flies out of the pit. Whether your outdoor wood burning fire pit is designed above or slightly below ground, wood material is the main fuel.
The best solution in controlling a fire within a wood burning fire pit, is to keep the flames small. A large fire with upward shooting flames can easily become uncontrollable. To start your healthy pit fire, you can use a retail store fire starter kit or become a naturalist and start with crumbled up newspaper and small sticks, twigs, or logs.
Using the method that the boy scouts and the first scouts are taught, make sure that your firewood sticks or twigs are small in size. The best firewood to keep flames burning is dry wood, but do not use green sticks or twigs because it will not burn.
Outdoor wood burning fire pits are more successful if you use seasoned wood like cedar, oak, hickory, pecan, mesquite, and certain fruit tree wood material like apple. You can use wood pieces like pine or birch, but know that they create more sparks and lots of crackling.
If you wish to buy your firewood, there are logs that are made from renewable materials like recycled sawdust, soy, switchgrass, and non-petroleum natural wax. These log materials are eco-friendly and when they are burn, there is less smoky emissions.
Now that you have crumbled paper lying in the center of the pit, lightly place a few small wood pieces on top of the paper and light them. As the fire begins to burn add larger pieces of wood on top. Add more smaller wood pieces as the fire burns because your fire kindling will begin to fall apart.
Remember to always keep an eye on the fire, even in a fire pit. If the flames begin to taper off, simply add more kindling wood and fuel. The ashes left behind from a wood fire can be used again as a fire-based foundation.
The evening was delightful, and everyone had fun, so it is time to quench the fire. Do not just throw water on the pit fire and walk away, because there could be smoldering embers that can flare up later at night. Instead make sure that the wood has burned down to ashes if possible.
Pour a lot of water slowly on the wood or ashes. There will some sizzling sounds but do not worry because it means that some of the ashes are still quite hot. Make sure that the water is poured on all the ashes including the center area where you started the fire and all around the perimeter of the fire area.
Take a stick or a shovel and move or stir the wet ashes and wood together and check again that the water has covered everything. Check the surrounding exterior fire pit area to make sure that no embers blew onto the ground.
Lastly, check the temperature of the fire pit ashes to make sure that they are dead, meaning the ashes are not still hot or generating heat. If there are any large wood ash, then take your shovel and break it up.