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FIRE PIT BUYING GUIDE

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BUYING A FIRE PIT

Fire pits have become increasingly popular in recent years and it’s easy to understand why. Given their popularity, we’ve put together this comprehensive fire pit buying guide that covers everything you could need to know about garden fire pits.

If there is a specific topic that you’re interested in you can use the links in the list below to navigate to that section of the guide. Alternatively, you can read the full guide to get a complete understanding of fire pits!

  • Introduction
  • Where to place a fire pit
  • How to light a fire pit
  • Cooking on a fire pit
  • Putting out a fire pit
  • Other fire pit FAQs
  • Which fire pit should you buy?

INTRODUCTION TO FIRE PITS

What is a fire pit?

A fire pit is a structure that is designed to contain a fire. Fire pits can be made from various materials including metal, stone and brick, and they’re ideal for heating outdoor areas in the evenings, lighting up the night and creating a cosy atmosphere. Many fire pits can also be used to cook food whilst you relax and unwind, or socialise with family and friends.

Are fire pits legal?

Yes, fire pits are legal to own and use in the UK. The only exception to this, is if you live in an area that has a specific law that does not allow fires or BBQs. For specific information, you can contact your local council.

UK government guidelines state that fires and fire pits are legal, as long as you don’t light fires that are a continuous nuisance to your neighbours. You also need to be cautious of creating smoke that could drift onto roads and impede a driver’s vision, and you shouldn’t burn fuel that produces toxic smoke. As long as you use kiln-dried, seasoned wood that's specifically designed for use in fire pits, the amount of smoke produced should be minimal and not cause any issues. You can find the UK government guidelines regarding fire pits, fires and bonfires on the gov.uk website here.

What is a fire pit used for?

People often purchase fire pits so that they can enjoy their garden and patio areas during the evenings all year round. Fire pits not only help people to stay warm long into the night; research from the University of Alabama also suggests that fires and fire pits can make people significantly more relaxed and sociable.

WHERE TO PLACE A FIRE PIT

Where do you place an outdoor fire pit?

Wood fires release highly combustible embers and sparks, so it’s really important to position your fire pit in a suitable area.

Ensure that you place your fire pit in a wide-open space, on a level surface. The fire pit should be 15ft to 20ft, or more away from any other structure that could catch alight. Remember that wood piles, leaves and low-hanging branches are especially combustible and hazardous. Also keep in mind the direction of any wind and don't use a fire pit if the wind is especially strong.

Using a mesh fire pit, or fire pit with a mesh spark guard can minimise the risk of any surrounding items or structures catching fire. Chiminea fire pits with mesh guards are an excellent choice too. The mesh guard minimises the chances of any errant sparks or embers causing issues, and the chimney funnels the smoke away efficiently.

It is best to place the fire pit on concrete, gravel, brick, stone, slate or a fire-resistant synthetic material. Some people choose to build a brick base or surface for their fire pit. It is possible to place a fire pit with a stand on grass, although we do not recommend this, as the fire pit will burn and destroy the grass that’s in contact with the fire pit.

Will a fire pit damage my patio?

Due to the high temperatures and the ability of metal to conduct heat, a fire pit is likely to damage or stain a concrete patio over time. This can be a particular issue with certain types of patio tiles, that are especially porous, including sandstone.

Using a fire pit on a stand, a fire pit that has legs, or a fire pit table will minimise or prevent any damage.

Are pavers safe for a fire pit?

Brick or stone pavers provide a safe surface for using a fire pit. Concrete pavers need to be heat-resistant, as concrete surfaces of any type contain tiny air bubbles and small amounts of water that can expand when heated. This expansion can then cause the pavers to crack. If you are unsure if your pavers are heat-resistant, it is best to use a fire pit pad or other suitable fire-resistant structure underneath the fire pit.

Can you put a fire pit on porcelain tiles?

Whether you can or can’t use a fire pit directly on porcelain tiles will depend on the design and manufacturing specifications of the tiles. Whilst most porcelain tiles can withstand extremely high temperatures, if a fire pit heats a specific area within a tile, whilst others areas of the tile remain relatively cool, the tile or tiles could crack due to thermal stress caused by the disparity in temperatures.

Can you put a fire pit on a wooden deck?

Although some people place fire pits on a fire-resistant surface, that sits on top of a decking area, we strongly recommend against this. We do not recommend using a fire pit on a wooden decking areas, and highly recommend that fire pit users stick to keeping any structures, including decking, 15ft to 20ft from the perimeter of a fire pit. We suggest putting a fire pit on a completely fire resistance surface. Fire-proof concrete, stone, gravel, brick or slate are much better and safer options for a fire pit flooring area.

Can I have a fire pit under a gazebo?

No, we do not recommend using a wood fire pit under a gazebo due to the fire risk and the lack of ventilation. If you do have a gazebo in your garden or patio area, we recommend that the perimeter of the gazebo, is positioned at least 20ft from the perimeter of the fire pit.

Can you put a fire pit under a pergola?

We do not recommend using a fire pit under a pergola. Some people choose to use a fire pit under a fire-resistant pergola but we do not recommend this practice. A wood-burning fire pit needs to be positioned well clear of any combustible materials, ensuring there is at least a 20ft gap between the fire pit and any flammable structure (including a pergola roof if it has one).

HOW TO START A FIRE IN A FIRE PIT

How do you light a fire pit?

There are various ways to start a fire pit using wood. A good method is to use kindling wood (thin strips of dried wood that catch fire relatively easily), kiln dried wood as the main fuel, organic firelighters and matches to start the fire.

First of all, you should stack the kindling wood within the fire pit. Make sure there is plenty of space for air-flow around the kindling wood by stacking it in a Jenga style structure. Next place 1 or 2 firelighters within the structure and light one of them with a match. Once the kindling is lit, you can stack the logs up against the Jenga structure. Keep the fire going by tending to it with a poker and by adding and repositioning wood when required.

How do you light a fire pit without kindling?

Kindling is generally regarded as an essential part of any fire starting kit. If you don’t have any kindling, you will need to use wood that is as thin and as dry as possible. You can also try twisting and tying several pieces of newspaper together to create a kindling substitute. Some people also choose to use pine cones to start a fire if no kindling is available, but they must be completely dry.

To start a fire without kindling, some people recommend using the “top-down” method. This involves placing the fire starters (or twisted newspaper) on top of the fire, rather than underneath or within the logs.

How do you start a fire pit with charcoal?

Be sure not to overfill the fire pit with charcoal as this can cause it to overheat and cause the interior surface of the fire pit to be damaged.

First be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that the fire pit is designed to be used with charcoal. Stack the charcoal so that you create a structure with plenty of gaps between each piece to allow for adequate air flow.

If the charcoal pieces are long enough, you can, lean them against each other in a tepee/pyramid shape, or stack then in a Jenga style structure, which allows plenty of room for air-flow and ventilation.

Once you have arranged the charcoal, place 2 or 3 fire lighters within the structure, ensuring that each fire lighter has space for air flow but is also in contact with the charcoal pieces. To start the fire, use a long match to light one or more of the firelighters. As always - Keep a close eye on the fire. You can use a poker to maintain the fire and add more firewood when necessary.

WHAT TO BURN IN A FIRE PIT

What can you burn in a fire pit?

In an open fire pit, wood is the best choice of fuel. Kiln dried oak, alder, cedar and hickory are amongst the best types of wood to use. Wood pellets are also a great option, these are easy to light but are best used with thicker pieces of wood for a fire that is easier to maintain.

Wood bricks are another alternative to logs. Wood bricks are made of compacting bark-free kiln dried wood and tend to get a fire going a lot quicker than logs made of wood from the same tree. Some people also use charcoal but it is important to check the manufacturer's instructions before choosing a fuel, as some fire pits can be damaged by a fire that is started with fuels other than wood.

You should avoid using pressure-treated wood, flammable liquids or paper with gloss or ink. Green wood - wood that is still alive when it is harvested or gathered, is also difficult to burn and produces a large amount of smoke as it has such high moisture content.

What is the best fuel for a fire pit?

As mentioned above, kiln dried firewood is the best fuel for the vast majority of fire pits, although the recommended fuel for each type of fire pit will usually be printed and outlined in the manufacturer’s instructions.

Types of kiln-dried hardwood logs include ash, oak birch and hazel, whilst seasoned apple, rowan and sycamore are also touted as efficient firewoods. Experts suggest that kiln dried firewood is the best wood to burn in a fire pit as it has very little moisture which minimises the amount of smoke produced. It is also easy to light, burns at a steady rate and doesn’t spit.

When using kiln dried firewood remember that you will typically also need kindling wood to help get a fire started.

If you use your fire pit to grill food, using different types of wood will produce slightly different flavours. Beech firewood for example, will add a zesty flavour, whereas alder firewood will add a sweet aftertaste.

Can you use charcoal in a fire pit?

Whilst we recommend using wood in our Harrier fire pit models, you can use charcoal in some other brands of fire pits (it will be listed as an approved fuel on the manufacturer’s instructions if you can). Charcoal is relatively easy to light but can damage some fire pits that are designed to be used with wood. Charcoal is not as environmentally friendly as sustainable-firewood and can also contain a high level of particulates including sulphur, which can cause issues for those using the fire pit, including inflammation of the eyes and aggravation of any breathing conditions such as asthma.

Can you use smokeless coal in a fire pit?

Many people choose to use smokeless coal on their firepits, however you should always check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that smokeless coal will not damage the structure of the fire pit. It’s important to be aware that all types of coal burn at higher temperatures than wood and can contain particulates which aggravate conditions such as asthma.

Can you use coffee logs in a fire pit?

Coffee logs burn significantly hotter than hardwood logs and are not suitable for use in fire pits for this reason. Coffee logs can damage the structure of the fire pit and they tend to produce more smoke than dried firewood.

Can you burn lumber in a fire pit?

It is generally a bad idea to use lumber as firewood. Freshly cut lumber will be full of moisture and will burn inefficiently and produce lots of smoke. Any lumber that has been pressure-treated to turn it into planks or furniture should not be burnt in a fire pit. Pressure treated wood contains chemicals such as arsenic which get released into the air when it is burnt.

Any type of lumber that has been treated or painted should not be burnt as it will also produce toxic fumes and smoke full of particulates that can damage the lungs and irritate the eyes.

Can you burn pine cones in a fire pit?

Dry pine cones will burn effectively and are used by some as an alternative to kindling, although we always recommended sticking to the fuel recommended in the manufacturer’s instructions. Pine cones can produce excessive amounts of smoke, especially if they are not seasoned or completely dried out.

What happens if you over-fuel the fire pit or use the wrong fuel type?

Fire pits are often designed, and tested using a specific type of fuel. Using alternative fuels or fire-starters can cause damage to the fire pit and can be potentially dangerous. For example, if a fire pit is specifically designed to be used with wood, using charcoal as the main fuel, or using a flammable liquid to start the fire can be extremely dangerous and result in damage to the fire pit. For example, if the fire burns excessively hot, it can damage any protective coating that is applied to the interior of the fire pit and become a health & safety hazard.

How do you keep a fire pit going?

Before using a fire pit make sure you wipe the interior dry as moisture can accumulate within a fire pit (especially during spells of damp or humid weather) which can cause fire pit fires to go out. Once that’s done, the easiest way to ensure that your fire pit stays alight for as long as possible is to use the types of kiln-dried firewood mentioned above. If you are buying firewood, check that it has a moisture content of less than 20% as this will burn efficiently and produce minimal smoke. Seasoned hickory and oak firewood burn for the longest amount of time, making it easier to maintain a fire once it has been lit. Birch firewood is touted as the easiest to burn and start a fire with.

Be sure to start the fire with tinder and kindling wood, and once the fire is established, introduce larger pieces of wood. Whilst larger pieces of wood are more difficult to light, they will burn for longer and produce more heat than smaller pieces of wood.

You should also ensure that firewood is stacked in a tepee or Jenga-style structure, rather than piled on top of each other. Allowing adequate air-flow between each piece of wood is essential for starting and maintaining a fire. You can also keep a fire going by stoking it with a poker to help with the ventilation and circulation of air between the logs.

Can you use charcoal in a fire pit?

Whilst we recommend using wood in our Harrier fire pit models, you can use charcoal in some other brands of fire pits (it will be listed as an approved fuel on the manufacturer’s instructions if you can). Charcoal is relatively easy to light but can damage some fire pits that are designed to be used with wood. Charcoal is not as environmentally friendly as sustainable-firewood and can also contain a high level of particulates including sulphur, which can cause issues for those using the fire pit, including inflammation of the eyes and aggravation of any breathing conditions such as asthma.

COOKING ON A FIRE PIT

Can you cook on a fire pit?

Yes, you can cook on a fire pit. As long as you use a grill that’s specifically made for your fire pit, you can cook a range of food both safely and efficiently.

You can use your fire pit to cook food the same way you would on a BBQ. You can grill many different types of steaks, sausages, burgers and even some hard cheeses such as halloumi. Without a grill, some people enjoy using skewers or sticks to toast marshmallows.

We have various fire pit models available that can be purchased with a grill for those wanting to use it as a BBQ.

How do you cook on a fire pit?

To cook a range of food on a fire pit, you will need a grill. Be sure to use a grill that fits securely and is designed for your specific model of fire pit. Once you have all the correct firewood and equipment, the process for cooking meat and other food and recipes is relatively straightforward.

  1. Decide on a recipe - you can find hundreds of fire pit meals to try by searching online.
  2. Collect & prepare the ingredients.
  3. If you are marinating meat, leave the sauce to soak in for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Prepare the fire pit with kindling and dried firewood.
  5. Carefully start the fire with a firelighter and match.
  6. Add your food and wait until it is cooked thoroughly.
  7. Be sure to monitor and supervise the food as it cooks, turning with BBQ tongs or spatula when necessary.

Always wear fire and heatproof gloves when handling any food or adding or adjusting the grill.

Can you use a pizza stone on a fire pit?

With great care, if your fire pit has a grill, you can place a pizza stone directly onto it once the fire is established. Wait a few minutes for the pizza stone to heat up, before placing a pizza on it. The pizza will usually take just a few minutes to cook, so keep a close eye on it to ensure that it doesn’t burn. It’s worth noting that this approach won’t cook a pizza in the same way a pizza oven does. A pizza oven cooks pizza from below, above and the sides thanks to its dome shape. Fire pits don’t have that same dome shape, meaning pizzas cooked on fire pits are cooked from below.

What can you toast on a fire pit?

You can toast a wide range of food using a fire pit, including:

  • Marshmallows
  • Crumpets
  • Baked apples
  • Vegetarian kebabs
  • Corn on the cob

PUTTING OUT A FIRE PIT

How do you put a fire pit out?

The most efficient way to put out a fire pit fire is to:

  • Stop adding fuel to the fire approximately an hour before you want to put it out
  • Let the fire burn out by itself
  • Douse and fully extinguish the fire with water
  • Double-check the fire to make sure it’s 100% out before leaving it
  • Check the surrounding area for any errant embers

Please be aware that when you dowse any fire with water, that smoke, dust, and embers can increase and fly upwards.

If you want to be extra sure that the fire pit is out, you can also add sand to it.

Is it safe to leave a fire pit burning overnight?

No - you should never leave a fire pit burning overnight. You should never leave a fire of any type unattended as a slight gust of wind can cause a small ember to travel several metres, potentially setting fire to nearby items or furniture.

Some types of firewood will also “spit” and can spark fires even when the fire pit itself appears to be extinguished. It is for this reason that you should always make sure you have fully doused and extinguished a fire pit before leaving it unattended.

What can you do with fire pit ashes?

Obviously, before you use any fire pit ashes, you’ll want to make sure that they are cool and not a fire hazard. Once you’ve doused your fire in water, and left the ashes for at least an hour, they should be safe to use in the garden. Ash can be added to soil to raise the pH, making it more alkaline. Plants such as lavender and honeysuckle prefer and grow more effectively in soil that has a high pH. Wood ash also contains nutrients including magnesium and phosphorus. Depending on what type of plants you are growing, cool wood ash can be added to some types of compost to encourage plant growth. Some gardeners and farmers also mix wood ash in manure to grow specific vegetables such as beans and kale.

OTHER FIRE PIT FAQS

How hot do fire pits get?

The internal temperature of a fire in a fire pit can reach 700°C and the temperature just above the flames can reach 500°C. The temperature of a fire pit will depend largely on the weather conditions, the type of fuel used and the size of the fire pit. It’s important not to overfuel a fire pit as excessive heat can damage the interior of the fire pit and cause a health & safety issue.

Do fire pits keep you warm?

Fire pits can keep you warm, but the amount of heat produced depends largely on the type of fuel that is used, as well as the size of the fire pit. Seasoned, kiln-dried wood will produce more heat for example, than freshly collected green wood. Wood burns hotter than propane or natural gas, so if you are looking to get the most heat and warmth from your fire pit, then a wood burning option is likely to be best.

Are fire pits bad for the environment?

If you use firewood that has been responsibly sourced in a sustainable manner, then fire pits are arguably one of the most environmentally friendly sources of heat. In addition, using seasoned or kiln-dried, tar free wood will also reduce the amount of smoke and particulates that are released into the atmosphere.

Is steel a good material for fire pits?

Fire pits made of steel are durable and highly efficient. Galvanised steel is weatherproof, lightweight and extremely strong and durable. Galvanised or stainless steel is also easy to clean and maintain and highly unlikely to rust.

Harrier steel fire pits come in a range of sizes and designs. From steel BBQ fire pits, to steel chiminea fire pits with wood storage, whatever type of steel fire pit you are looking for, you are sure to find what you need within our range of outdoor heating solutions and fire pits.

How do fire pit tables work?

Fire tables have a built-in gas-burner that is attached by a hose or pipe to a bottle of propane gas. Fire tables are a great focal point for any garden-area and provide both warmth and light. Harrier fire pit tables are available in aluminium or rattan style designs, and feature specialised protective glass, and an adjustable fire that can produce 55,000 BTU of heat.

Is it safe to use a rusty fire pit?

No, a rusty fire pit is not considered safe as it may have structural damage and weaknesses which increase the risk of the fire spreading.

WHICH FIRE PIT SHOULD YOU BUY?

How do I choose a fire pit?

Before investing in a fire pit, consider where you are going to keep it and what you are going to use it for. For example, if you are planning on using your fire pit as a source of heat, warmth and also as a BBQ, then you may wish to opt for a large fire pit with a grill, such as the Harrier Mesh Garden Fire Pit BBQ.

If you want a fire pit just for warmth and a relaxing ambience, then a Chiminea Fire Pit is the best option.

If you have a large seating area and want an attractive centrepiece that produces minimal smoke, then a propane fire pit table such as the Harrier Fire Pit Table would be ideal. The Harrier Fire Pit Table is available in weatherproof aluminium and rattan designs, allowing you to choose a model that best suits the decor of your garden and outdoor space.

  • Manufactured using black powder coated steel
  • Supplied with fire pit poker & log grate
  • Optional Grill allows you to create a BBQ
  • Portable & lightweight design
  • Built-in log storage compartment
  • Bowl shaped pit makes fire easier to control
  • Creates a beautiful outdoor centrepiece
  • Optional grill available
  • Luxury steel fire pit with air-flow design
  • Supplied with fire pit poker & log grate
  • Large fire pit providing extra heat, warmth & light
  • Extra-safe design with optional grill plate
  • Cube fire pit design perfect for outdoor entertaining
  • Woven steel design for additional air-flow
  • Robust yet lightweight material
  • Cube design blends into a variety of patio & garden layouts
  • Mesh design circulates air flow for easy combustion
  • Optional grill allows you to cook a wide range of food
  • Durable, sturdy & lightweight weather-resistant steel design
  • Tall mesh design for additional safety
  • Stylish & practical fire pit table available in aluminium or rattan designs
  • Protective glass surround for safety & heat retention
  • Manufactured with UV and weatherproof materials
  • Open doorway for seamless propane gas tank storage
  • Chiminea stack for efficient smoke dispersal
  • Available in a range of sizes & designs
  • Available with log storage compartments
  • Robust & lightweight steel design

OUR HARRIER FIRE PIT OPTIONS

At Net World Sports we sell a comprehensive range of fire pits, BBQs and chimineas. Available in an array of designs and sizes, whether you are looking for an aluminium fire pit table, or a 2 in 1 fire pit BBQ, you are sure to find a fire pit that meets your specific requirements.

We also sell pizza ovens, patio heaters, hot tubs and kamado egg BBQs, so you’ll find everything you need to spruce up your garden on our website!

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The Sunday Hundred Award Logo
The Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Award Logo
The Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100 Award Logo
Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2022 Award Logo
Growth Index 2022 Award Logo