Home and Backyard Fire Pits
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What Are You Going To Burn?
Fire pits can really vary and it's a good idea to do some research about the different types and figure out what works best for you and your backyard. How often you intend to use your fire pit is one main thing to consider, and that leads right away to, "what do you have available or want to burn?" One of the biggest differences in fire pits is what they use for fuel.
Charcoal - This is most often the fuel used for people who want to cook over their fire pits as it provides a controlled and steady heat when compared to wood. It also doesn't have to be chopped down to size. Be sure to get a chimney starter for cooking as lighter fluid lends a nasty taste to food, increases fire danger, adds to expense and is bad for the environment.
Gas-line - Some fire pits can accommodate a gas line. These tend to be stationary fire pits instead of mobile ones. Using a gas line can make for more hassle on the building/installing end, but it's an option some people want alongside or instead of wood or charcoal. For areas where sparking is a huge fire danger, gas is sometimes a good option.
Wood - This is most people's favorite fuel for their fire pit. You get nice light and heat from wood, but you have to make sure your wood is both well-seasoned and kept dry or you'll wind up with really smoky fires. Also, having properly dried wood and a good amount of dry tinder allows for the much easier starting of fires. How hot your fires are will depend on how much wodo your burn at one time. If you need a really intense heat, make sure to get an open bowl and do NOT get a chiminea, as chimineas will crack when fired too high. Even shallow bowls can be stoked up very hotly when you have the right sized wood (about three foot-long logs are the trick).
The Ultimate Fire Bowl
John T. Unger Designs
- Imitator Sues Me to Overturn Copyrights: Please Help Defend My Art
Help the creator of this wonderful fire bowl to stop an imitator from stealing his designs and copyrights!
If I could have any fire bowl in the world...
Right now, I'm living in a shared household with a small backyard and I live pretty frugally. However if price were no object and space was not a consideration, hands down I'd have one of the fire pits that you see here.
I took this picture at a fire circle gathering in Oahu, Hawaii that I went to in December of 2008. Their fire bowl is gorgeous, isn't it? This lovely and understandably-pricey fire bowl is handmade by a man named John T. Unger. He makes an entire series of artisanal fire bowls crafted from recycled propane tanks. He makes a whole variety of size and designs. Each winds up being one of a kind as they are hand-drawn and cut one-by-one by the artist. What you see here is the design called "The Great Bowl O' Fire" and it's the largest of the bunch. Maybe if my Hubs do really well this year, I can get one of the smaller designs.
Backyard fire pit safety
For a more enclosed fire, try a Chiminea
Grilliput Compact Firebowl
A Tiny, Portable Firebowl
I have a super, tiny and portable firebowl. It's made for grilling while camping, and can burn both wood or charcoal. It does look almost exactly like a vegetable steamer, but it's actually larger and does not have the holes all over to vent or admit steam.
But it folds up the same as a steamer, it's all steel and as far as a small, one-person-sized firebowl goes, it's great.
Tips for Using your Fire Pit
Learn how to properly start a fire - Too many people just fling huge chunks of wood into their pits, douse the entire thing with lighter fluid and toss on match. That's a waste of good wood, the lighter fluid is toxic and with just a bit of effort, the whole thing can be cheaper and easier.
Have the right tools - To make using your fire pit easy and safe, you'll want to have fire gloves, some tools for moving burning logs and a screen cover on your pit (to contain sparks and embers).
Be fire safe - Set up your pit so that it's not touching any surfaces it could burn. Make sure no nearby grasses or plants could be ignited. Have a garden hose or fire extinguisher close nearby in case of an emergency.
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