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Home and Backyard Fire Pits

Updated on June 26, 2014

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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

Fire Tribe Hawaii's gorgeous, custom fire bowl made from the end of a recycled propane tank.
Fire Tribe Hawaii's gorgeous, custom fire bowl made from the end of a recycled propane tank. | Source

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.

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. 

How Do You Like Your Fire Pit?

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    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

      Another nice hub Relache. I made a fire pit out of a big aluminium meat packing bowl thrown in the trash at a local supermarket under renovation. Getting lots of mileage out of it, doesn't rust. I just use presto logs in it usually, to keep a fire going for burning personal papers and documents, that kind of thing. Regards, s lane

    • RalphGreene profile image

      RalphGreene 6 years ago

      Wow! Impressive hub,relache.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 7 years ago from Minnesota

      Loved this informative hub. I had a handy-man build me one with bricks and stones. We just put rolled up paper and tree branches to help start it. It is very safe and all the neighbors count on us for fun bonfires. This is the best season for the bonfires. Can't wait.

    • EnergyAdvisor profile image

      EnergyAdvisor 7 years ago from The nearest planet to Venus

      Very nice hub! I live in Surinam(tropics) and people love to make fires here. I bet people would love these things. Our family run a tropical plant nursery and a landscaping business. So we're always looking for these kind a stuff. You have some great gardening hubs too. I'll follow you:)

    • relache profile image

      Raye 7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Too many people burning trash are just toxi-fying the atmosphere and poisoning themselves. I don't condone those sorts of fires.

    • Maryanne Maguire profile image

      Maryanne Maguire 7 years ago from Santa Monica, CA

      It's funny but some areas we've been in, some folks like to watch trash burn on a cool evening :) So hey, just be careful that burning pieces don't fly and catch somewhere. GOod hub.

    • profile image

      LeoSavage 7 years ago


      just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful tips on fire safety.

      someone can always learn if they look for it.

      Thanks for your help.

    • profile image

      LeoSavage 7 years ago

      That is one sweet looking fire bowl. However, I have the great misfortune of not possessing the requisite resources to purchase such an object, so I'll just stick to my cinder block fire pit. :)

    • snakebaby profile image

      Sabrina Yuquan Chen (陈玉泉) 7 years ago from Boston, MA, USA

      Yes, this is indeed cool:-)

    • profile image

      customastrocharts 7 years ago

      super cool!

    • bengriston profile image

      bengriston 8 years ago

      These are very nice looking bowls and seeing a ceremony would be a wonderful experience.

    • profile image

      John T Unger 8 years ago

      I'll try that, thanks!

    • relache profile image

      Raye 8 years ago from Seattle, WA

      John T. Unger,

      Sadly, I don't have any pictures of the bowl in action, as photos aren't allowed during the actual rituals. However you might try emailing the Fire Tribe and see if they have any from their more casual get-togethers.

    • welch profile image

      welch 8 years ago from Alabama

      Very Interesting Article,Fire Bowls are nice to have.

    • profile image

      John T. Unger 8 years ago

      Hi Relache,

      Thanks for posting the photo of the firebowl I made for Fire Tribe Hawaii and for linking to my site. Do you have any pictures of the firebowl in use during a Fire Tribe event? I'd love to see them.


    • profile image

      KStyle 8 years ago


      that's a nice fire pit. We have one that we use in the cooler months and really enjoy it. Roasted peeps with graham crackers and chocolate are a weekend treat on it!

      Thanks I really enjoyed reading this hub.


    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      We have an outdoor pit, but rarely use it. Nice hub.

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Both of us live in real 'barbecue' neighbourhoods. If the weather is half decent there is smoke everywhere. So we doubt that anyone around here would object if we had a fire pit.

      Love that Hawaiian one!

      A few years ago Pat obtained a price for having her back garden remodelled and terrace rebuilt - with a fire pit. The price was 27000 pounds! So nothing has happened.

      Still, we dream on...

      Thanks for sucha thorough hub.

    • sabrebIade profile image

      sabrebIade 8 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I LOVE That Fire Tribe one!

    • stuart747 profile image

      stuart747 8 years ago from Colchester, Essex, UK

      I liked your hub as I have been considering a fire pit as well

    • relache profile image

      Raye 8 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Jason, you'll have to check your local zoning and ordinances. How the heck would I even begin to guess what the rules are wherever you live?

    • Jason Seale profile image

      Jason Seale 8 years ago from Stratford, Ontario, Canada

      I've been thinking about getting a fire bowl for the yard, but I am not sure if we are allowed to have an "open" fire in our yard. Is it the same as having a barbeque? Or do different rules tend to apply?

    • artrush73 profile image

      artrush73 8 years ago

      That's really nice designed fire bowl