Simply put, an outdoor fire pit is a permanent or temporary place where you can safely build and light fires while allowing them to burn for an extended period of time. Technically, anyone with some training and some fireproof material like stone can build their own fire pit, but most homeowners these days prefer to buy pre-made fire pits as its safer, easier to clean and can be moved out of the way when not being used.
Uses for an Outdoor Fire Pit
Of course, a fire pit is the perfect place to light and fire and watch the embers burn, an activity that has fascinated humankind for millennia. But there are many other amazing uses for today’s latest generation of fire pits, including:
Focal Point –
Even if you don’t really need the warmth from the fire, a fire pit is a great focal point for any back yard or garden.
Whether it’s grilled meat or making s’mores with the kids, a fire pit can easily be used to cook some of your favorite recipes.
Insect Mitigation –
Whether it’s keeping away mosquitos or pesky no-see-‘ums, the heat and smoke from a fire pit can help you enjoy more time out in the back yard or garden.
Heat Source –
Obviously, all fires produce heat. But if you include walls or an overhead structure with your fire pit, you’ll be able to better reflect heat, allowing you to enjoy the great outdoors during chillier times of the year.
Game Center –
Many people think of fire pits as something to gaze at while chatting with friends or contemplating deep thoughts, but playing non-electronic games like cards or making shadow puppets around the fire can be a lot of fun for the whole family.
Burn Scraps –
Although you’ll have to check with your local authorities to determine what is legal to burn in your area, fire pits are a great way to dispose of lawn clippings, twigs, and other organic debris.
Heating Stones –
A great natural way to stay warm on a cold night is to place pre-heated stones in your bed. Simply place a smooth-sided stone on the edge of your fire pit and carefully wrap it with cloth before using it in bed.
Preserve Meat –
A fire pit is the perfect way to dry or smoke fish and meat.
Benefits of Owning an Outdoor Fire Pit
Most people originally build or buy a fire pit to replace a grill or to create a safe place for bonfires, but once you own a fire pit, you’ll be amazed by all the benefits it can provide, including:
Adds Beauty –
Some of today’s pre-made fire pits are quite beautiful to look at, adding a touch of elegance and class to any outdoor area.
Perfect for Gatherings –
Whether it’s a boisterous party with your friends and family or an intimate meeting with a prospective paramour, people will love to come visit you when you have a fire pit.
There’s just something magical about having a fire to look at. Whether you’re by yourself or hosting a get-together, fire pits add a lovely ambiance to any outdoor area.
A dedicated fire pit allows you to light fires without having to worry about accidentally setting alight nearby organic materials. Fire pits also help reduce disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes.
Natural Light –
In the modern world, we often spend our nights being bathed in artificial and somewhat harsh light. Fire pits allow you to relax and enjoy your nights while enjoying soft, natural light that is easy on the eyes.
Extending the Season –
Even if you live in a warm climate, there are always going to be chilly nights. Having a fire pit means that you can enjoy your back yard or garden even when the temperature begins to drop.
Taking Care of Your Outdoor Fire Pit
Once properly installed, a fire pit can be safely used for years with only minimal maintenance and upkeep. Nonetheless, it is essential that you follow a few simple steps to keep your fire pit safe and easy to use:
- If ash and blowing smoke is a problem, consider relocating the fire pit or installing some kind of wind protection.
- Always avoid any flammable materials above your fire pit, including tree branches.
- Keep the perimeter of your fire pit free from flammable materials in at least a 10-foot radius from the outer edge of the fire pit.
- When using the fire pit during chilly periods, the temperature difference can potentially crack the exterior lining of the fire pit. Installing a reinforced concrete base can help reduce cracking, but be aware that some small, cosmetic cracks are not a safety concern.
- Don’t burn inappropriate materials. Even if it’s legal in your jurisdiction, it’s never a good idea to burn treated wood, trash, or chemicals. The best fuel for a wood-fired fire pit is always dried, seasoned wood.
- Always keep emergency dousing materials on hand. Generally, it’s usually best to allow the flames to naturally extinguish themselves. Avoid dousing an active fire with water as it can crack or stress the fire pit, so keep sand or dirt on hand for when you need to extinguish a fire prematurely.
- Be sure to regularly remove ashes from your fire pit. Remember, embers can smolder for a long time after there are no longer any active flames.
- If you have a masonry fire pit, you can clean it using a solution of 9 parts water to 1 part muriatic acid, being sure to let it dry a full 48 hours before lighting a new fire.
- For cast iron fire pits, you can remove rust by using a steel sponge or wire brush.
- Investing in a cover is a great way to protect your fire pit from the elements when it is not in use.
- Fire screens are also a good investment as well. Although they can diffuse the beauty of an open flame, screens ensure that ashes and sparks don’t blow around.
- If you’re using a grate or grill to cook in your fire pit, make sure that these are regularly cleaned to prevent a build-up of stains and/or rust.
- Invest in standard fireplace tools like an ash scoop, poker, and tongs in order to properly manage your fire pit.
- For portable fire pits, it’s a good idea to store these in a garage or shed during long periods of non-use.
Here’s our reviews of the Best Outdoor Fire Pits 2017
After carefully reviewing the fire pits available on the market today, we have come up with what we believe are the 10 best fire pits that money can buy.
ConsumerExpert’s Star Buy Outdoor Fire Pit
30 Inch Firebowl Fire Pit with Handles and Spark Screen by Sunnydaze
Featuring a compact yet generous design, the Sunnydaze fire pit has a big 30-inch fire bowl that allows you to add plenty of wood for a long-lasting fire. This is a great feature for winter use, as the volume of wood it can hold will make those cold nights more cosy. The Sunnydaze has a beautiful pedestal base and has a brass-colored finish to add real elegance to any outdoor setting. The Sunnydaze comes with an included 20-inch poker and 29-inch mesh screen to keep ashes and sparks from escaping. The Sunnydaze has bottom holes for draining and two big 4-inch rings that make transporting and storing the fire pit easy.
Beautiful pedestal and half-globe design
Comes with 1 poker, 1 spark screen, and 1 wood grate
Includes drainage holes
Landmann 23-1/2-Inch Savannah Garden Light Fire Pit in Black
With a generous 23 and 1/2-inch fire bowl, the Landmann 26364 is guaranteed to provide plenty of heat and light. The decorative design of the Landmann 26364 firebox adds a lovely flickering ambience that can be viewed from a full 360-degrees. The Landmann 26364 comes with both a poker and spark screen for added safety and convenience. The Landmann 26364 weighs just 22 pounds and comes with ring handles for ease in transporting and storing the fire pit when not in use.
Sturdy steel construction
Provides 360-degrees of fire viewing pleasure
Includes spark screen and poker
Sun Joe SJFP35-STN Cast Stone Fire Pit, 35-Inch
With a huge 29-inch fire bowl and 35-inch diameter, the Sun Joe SJFP35-STN is an excellent addition to any back yard or garden. The Sun Joe SJFP35-STN three elegant designs that add a lovely rustic touch while the built-in screen hook allows you to safely remove the screen while a fire is burning. The Sun Joe SJFP35-STN includes a wire mesh screen and can handle logs up to 21.5 inches long, making it easy to create heat and ambiance.
Available in cast stone, rustic wood, or charcoal gray designs
Heat resistant up to 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit
Included screen can be safely removed while fire is burning
Landmann USA Bromley Fire Pit in Black
With a simple yet elegant all-black design, the Landmann USA Bromley is an excellent fire pit for smaller outdoor yards and gardens. The decorative legs and cutout design allow you to enjoy watching the fire from a full 360-degree viewing angle while the included screen helps keep sparks contained. Weighing in at just 12.7 pounds, the Landmann USA Bromley is easy to transport and store when not in use.
Made entirely from steel
Comes with poker and spark screen
Generous 24-inch fire pit
Best Choice Products BCP Hex Shaped Outdoor Home Garden Backyard Fireplace
The Best Choice Products BCP Hex has a lovely distressed bronze hexagonal design that will add a touch of elegance and class to any outdoor setting. The Best Choice Products BCP Hex comes with a heavy-duty lid/screen that keeps ashes and sparks safely in place. Made from high-premium steel, the Best Choice Products BCP Hex is designed to last for years although it is light enough to easily transport and store when not in use.
Big 24-inch fire bowl
Weighs just 15.75 pounds
Elegant oil-rubbed bronze finish
Best Choice Products Bronze Fire Bowl Fire Pit Patio Backyard Outdoor Garden Stove Firepit, 36″
Another strong contender from Best Choice Products, this fire pit features a rustic lattice design and included spark screen for added safety. The fire pit measures 36 inches in diameter, making it easy to build long-lasting, warm fires while the innovative slanted legs ensure that it will remain securely in place. The Best Choice Products is made from steel with an artisanal oil-rubbed bronze exterior that features hints of copper highlights, making this one truly beautiful addition to any garden, patio, or back yard.
Lovely old-world rustic design
Includes screen to keep ashes and sparks in place
Built-in rings make it easy to transport
CobraCo 30 Inch 100% Round Cast Iron & Copper Fire Pit with Screen and Cover
With its lovely all-copper design, the CobraCo fire pit instantly stands out amongst other fire pit models. The CobraCo SH101 comes with a heavy duty metal stand to ensure stability that is uncoated to add rustic charm to any patio, back yard, or garden. The CobraCo fire pit comes with a screen to prevent ashes and sparks from escaping as well as a vinyl cover with an elastic band to prevent damage from the elements when not in use. The 30-inch open style all-copper fire bowl make it easy to create very warm, long-lasting fires.
Lovely 100% copper fire bowl design
Comes with cover and spark screen
Easy to clean and maintain
Landmann 25319 Haywood Wildlife Sturdy Steel Fire Pit
With a truly innovative design, the Landmann 25319 fire pit is more akin to a portable fireplace than a fire bowl. The elegant cutouts allow 360-degree viewing of the fire while the hinged front door makes it easy to adjust or add wood. The Landmann 25319 can handle wood pieces up to 20 inches in length and is made entirely from construction grade steel for added durability.
Easy and fast to assemble and start using
Works great as a very warm outdoor fireplace
Hinged access door makes it easy to add or adjust wood
DeckMate Kay Home Product’s Avondale Steel Fire Bowl
With a generous 29-inch fire bowl, the Deckmate Avondale fire pit can safely burn either wood or artificial logs. The fire bowl comes with a antique style copper-colored finish to add rustic charm to any outdoor setting, while the included wire mesh screen ensures that ashes and sparks stay safely in place. The Deckmate Avondale also includes a built-in log rest for improved air flow and more even burning.
Measures 31 inches in diameter and 21 inches high
Big 29-inch fire bowl has built-in log rests for more efficient and even burning.
Includes a wire mesh screen and poker
Whether you’re purchasing a fire pit to enjoy the occasional outdoor gathering or want a beautiful way to stay warm on a chilly night, fire pits are great options for homeowners. Fire pits add lovely ambience and a rich source of natural light, making them natural focal points and a great way to create memories with the important people in your life.