Basic Guidelines for Fire Pit Use and Selection

While the modern form of the communal fire still includes the traditional campfire, the safer, more convenient and clean method of providing an outdoor fire area is the fire pit, fire bowl, fire dome, patio fireplace or chiminea. These fire units allow for the use of fires on the patio, deck or lawn, while also complimenting the existing style of the outdoor space with a large variety of styles and designs.

Fire pits are made from a variety of metals such as copper, bronze, sculptural grade steel, stainless steel, cast iron and wrought iron. Some fire pits are machine pressed into the shape of a bowl, often the case with copper or aluminum fire bowls, as well as stainless steel bowls. Sculptural grade steel is generally used for larger fire pits or fire domes and are hand crafted by welding steel pieces together into a bowl or dome shape. These steel bowls and domes are adorned with a decorative pattern, created by the artisan with the use of a plasma cutter to remove the sections of the metal to create openings. These patterns are not just created for aesthetic reasons, although the results do yield a stunning work of art; the patterns enable air to reach the fire within the dome, as well as enable heat to escape from the sides for a warming effect on the surrounding area. Wrought iron fire bowls are often covered in a decorative bronze or copper finish that is applied by artisans with an old world method of hand hammering the chosen material onto the wrought iron form. Fire pit tables usually have a design around the edge and are also available with decorative tile or slate surrounds around the fire bowl.

Fire pit accessories include wood grates, to provide a breathable platform to elevate wood while burning for better air flow to the fire, fire pokers for tending the fire, and spark guards to protect surrounding areas from burning due to stray sparks. Fire pit grills are also available to allow for cooking over the fire. Fire pads should be used under fire components that are placed on decks or wood patios to protect the wood beneath from potentially catching on fire, as well as preventing warping, cracking and discoloring of the wood from excessive heat.

Fire pits are a versatile, functional outdoor decor, and aside from the aspect of providing a fiery focal point for entertaining, they can also be used for heating the patio, deck or surrounding area of the pit, as well as for cooking foods. When choosing a fire pit, you should take into consideration what you may want to use the fire pit for. While all fire pit styles are excellent for entertaining, certain styles and designs work better for certain purposes. The large steel fire domes are the perfect fire component for sophisticated outdoor entertaining, with their stunning beauty they are also effective in heating the surrounding outdoor space and accommodate marshmallow roasting as well. Table fire pits are a great choice for entertaining as well as casual use, as they can be used as a table when the fire bowl is not in use, and also provide a flat surrounding surface on which drinks or plates can be placed when a fire is burning. These fire pits are convenient for cooking quickly grilled foods, however most do not provide much heat and are not well suited for BBQ’s or for grilling foods that require long cook times. If you would like a fire unit that will be an attractive entertaining focal point, provide heat, and have the ability to grill any foods you like, steel, bronze or wrought iron fire bowls are your generally your best bet.

If heating your outdoor space is your main goal and you want a beautiful, decorative addition to your patio, deck or lawn without an open fire, a chiminea may be the right choice for you. These fire components are effective outdoor heating, without the use of an open fire, while adding a touch of old world style to any area. Patio fire places also fit the bill for these uses as well, providing effective 365 degree heating for the surrounding outdoor space with an enclosed lantern, firehouse or pagoda design.


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