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An outdoor fire pit is a portable fireplace for your backyard that will warm your patio along with your feet! It adds ambiance and a touch of fun for the whole family.
There are many designs of outdoor fire pits, most made of metal or copper. The simplest design is a large wok-shaped tray that sits in a metal stand. Wood and kindling is placed in the tray, which is used like a fire pit. The tray has a removable steel-screen bubble top.
Other fire pits are ornately designed, some square or rectangular in shape. Many have enclosed steel screen siding with solid black metal tops. Designs like these normally have wheeled legs and a rear handle for mobility when the pit is not in use.
There is also the chiminea style outdoor fire pit for that old potbelly stove look. Though charming, bear in mind that the door to the chiminea is relatively small, allowing the heat to radiate out in a very narrow band. If you will want several people to be able to warm themselves around the fire, an open design is preferred.
Outdoor fire pits make an attractive addition to any backyard, and many come with a grill to convert your fire pit to a barbeque pit. You can cook those steaks first, then sit around the fire afterwards!
When shopping for an outdoor fire pit, keep in mind that some are rated for burning wood only, while others can also burn pressed wood or firelogs (such as Duraflame) like the type you can purchase at the grocery store. Firelogs are made from recycled sawdust and petroleum wax, are easy to light, do not require kindling and will burn steadily for 2-5 hours, depending on the size and brand. However, they burn hotter than cordwood, and therefore not all fire pits are rated to burn firelogs. If the fire pit can burn pressed wood, this is an indication that firelogs are okay. Note that firelogs should only be burned one at a time.
Outdoor fire pits sit rather low making them potentially dangerous for small children and pets. Exercise caution and proper supervision when enjoying a fire pit, and keep a recently serviced fire extinguisher handy. That said, adding a fire pit to your backyard brings a little bit of the vacation home!
@ parmnparsley- I used to work for a landscaping company, so I always had the option to pick through old landscaping materials bound for the dump or recyclers. I salvaged a bunch of clink bricks and made a nice outdoor fire pit and grill. I organized the bricks into an "S" shape. One of the semi circles was large and almost enclosed. This larger side of the "S" was the fire pit.
The smaller side was where I built the grill, and it was almost an enclosed circle as well. About 18 inches above the ground, I placed number 3 rebar in the mortar to make a built in grill grate.
The clinker brick is naturally heat resistant. The variation
in color and size also gives the wall of the fire pit a unique look. Not fully enclosing the pit makes it easy to shovel out the soot and ash from the fires. Best of all, it looks great in my back yard.
I used to rent a house in the Mad River Valley in Vermont, and every year, my girlfriend, my friends and I would build an outdoor fire pit in the snow. Around December, we would have enough snow cover on the ground that we would dig out a fire pit, line it with rocks, and dig out benches that circled the fire pit. Then with a snow blower, we would create a snow maze that led to the fire pit.
We would have bonfires that lasted through the night, and a perfect place to celebrate the New Year. Once the late January thaw hit, the fire pit would melt, marking the end of the holiday season.
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