Nothing beats gathering around a roaring fire with family and friends, especially when you're outside in the fresh air, under the stars. It’s incredible how the addition of a firepit can transform an entire backyard into an outdoor living room, encouraging everyone to spend more time outside, away from screens, sharing stories and conversation, and living in the moment.
With a little know-how, you can make most of the fire pit experience and get the maximum amount of enjoyment of it, from start to finish.
Don’t play with fire. It’s much easier to relax a few feet away from a pit full of flames when you know you’re doing it safely.
Before you get your matches out, you need the right materials to keep your firepit burning long and strong.
The secret to lighting your fire pit is to place a lit match at the bottom of the woodpile directly in the center. The rising flames will use the wood above as fuel and eventually everything will catch fire.
Taking a few simple protective measures will prevent property damage and extend the life of your fire pit.
It’s no secret that fire pits are fantastic for toasting marshmallows, but why stop there? Harness the power of the flame and make a meal of it! Place a cast-iron grill grate directly over the top to cook steak, hot dogs, burgers, foil-wrapped baked potatoes, halloumi, vegetable skewers, watermelon... you name it. If you can cook it on the barbecue or in a skillet, you can cook it on the firepit.
People have burned sage leaves for centuries to connect with the spiritual realm, but they also happen to be a handy insect repellent! The smoke from sage emits a pleasantly fragrant aroma that blood-sucking pests like mosquitoes despise. If you don’t want to be bugged when you’re trying to enjoy your fire pit, toss a bundle or two into the flames.
Sunken fire pits create the illusion that flames are springing straight from the ground. They’re smaller and keep the blaze better contained than above-ground firepits, but they're also easier to fall into! Use extra caution, especially when there are small children and pets around.
In-ground fire pits can be as basic as a hole dug into the ground, or a formal stone-lined pit built into a patio.
A perfect focal point for any outdoor space, permanent above-ground firepits are usually installed with a stone surround, sometimes with matching built-in benches. The stones warm up with the heat of the fire, which is perfect for year-round enjoyment. Because the flames rise higher than in-ground firepits, it’s important to install your above-ground fire pit far enough away from nearby trees and houses.
Portable fire pits are perfect for urban backyards and small patios, and they come in an endless variety of designs, shapes, and sizes. They’re also easy to clean out: just dump out the ashes, rinse, and start over.
No firepit? No problem! A Swedish fire log, sometimes called a Canadian candle, is nothing but a freestanding vertical log strategically chopped across the top. The best part is that it’s self-feeding, and the fire can last for up to five hours.
Now that you know the basics, it’s time for the fun part: creating an outdoor space with the perfect ambiance. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:
Don’t put that ash in the trash! Leftover firepit wood ash has plenty of surprisingly practical uses.
Store leftover ash in a sealed waterproof container.