Ever since man, or perhaps women discovered fire, there has been an almost magnetic attraction to sit around it. A fire draws people together, to cook, and share stories, to sit around it and talk late into the night. The warmth creates an invisible blanket of comfort against the chill of the evening. Here is the chance to make your own fire pit in your garden.
Although this design will work for gas, it is more aligned with a wood fire using logs.
Where To Position Your Fire Pit
Here are some rough guidelines about how to set up your fire pit. Starting with the pit itself you need to have a circle of about 3 feet diameter. This will be where the fire is going to be located. Next around it you will need to have an area for seating. Ideally this area should be paved or decked but beware of decking with fire. Not a good combination. Flagstone is better or a similar natural rock product or manufactured pavers. Taking your cue from the center point of the fire pit you will need a space of at least six feet form the wall of the fire pit to the edge of the paving for seating. So, the overall diameter of the paving should be around 14 feet.
The most important issue around the fire pit is that it should be higher in the middle and gently taper to the outside. The next important item is to have proper drainage inside the fire pit itself. All too often fire pits are built with no drainage and then when it rains the pit fills with water and when left to evaporate it makes a handy accommodation area for mosquitoes. So, before you lay the paving do yourself a favor and fit a drain in the pit leading out under the paving. With a drain, cleaning the fire pit is easy. You can simply hose it down.
The area has been cleared and leveled and the drainpipe is fitted the and now the paving can be laid. It is best to pave the entire area and then build the fire pit on top of the paving. Consequently, it is important that the paving is laid on a compacted bed of material that drains well. One of the more appropriate materials for bedding down the paving is crushed lava rock or volcanic ash. With the paving complete the construction of the fire pit can begin.
Related: How To Make A Self Feeding Fire
The walls of the fire pit need to be made of material that can withstand the high temperatures close to the fire. Also check that the cement you are going to be using is going to withstand the high temperatures.
If you are going to fit a metal grill inside the fire pit it is best to purchase the grill prior to starting to build, to make sure that it is going to fit but there is an alternative. Using some three-quarter inch steel bar cut to the length so that the ends do not protrude out of the fire pit walls will also work and by making holes in the wall at different heights the height of the fire can be altered as required. Make sure that the holes are made when building the walls so that the bars can slide in and out easily.
There is an almost endless range of materials that can be used on the outside of the fire pit wall. Natural rocks especially granite type ones if available nearby are an almost free material and lend a wonderfully attractive rustic ambiance. Stay clear of rocks that can absorb water as they have the chance of exploding when heated. But the range of is limited only by your imagination and the ease of combustion of the possible choice.
The Height Of The Walls
It is possible to take the name literally and your fire pit could simply be a hole in the ground but that has serious limitations so let’s consider a few items. Top priority is safety. Small children have a fascination with fire (so do adults I guess otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about a fire pit) so it is important that the wall of the fire pit does stop children hurting themselves.
The generally accepted comfortable height is around two to two and a half feet. If you want to get clever about the height of the wall here is a little tip that will make your guests think you are a magnificent designer of fire pits. People sitting around a fire pit always want to put there feet up on wall, and that can get the soles of shoes melting in double quick time; so if you can incorporate a lip around the outside of the wall high enough to rest your feet on, and stay warm, but not so high as to set them alight that will be a great addition. I used for mine the design of the material: you can easily rest your feet on the lip part on top of of wall.
If you are considering using the fire pit to cook food on you will need to incorporate some brackets to hold a grill or simply have two holes for the bars mentioned above high enough to allow for cooking. Mine is not used for cooking, I have a separate outdoor kitchen and grill.
There is considerable benefit in having a cover over the fire pit. Stainless steel is probably the best material for this but is expensive and only necessary in areas of high corrosion. A mild steel cover would suffice in other areas. The advantage of a cover is that it can be placed over the fire pit at the end of the evening, and the last of the flames will present no danger. It will also keep the rain out of the fire pit so any unburnt logs will be dry and easy to light at your next fire pit party.
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