One of our favourite parts of camping is sitting around a campfire under the stars socialising with family and friends. Perhaps it satisfies our primal desire for warmth and companionship, or maybe it’s just the wine and marshmallows! Either way, if you want to enjoy the campfire experience safely and legally in your own back garden, then why don’t you consider a firepit?
The term ‘pit’ is actually a bit misleading as far from being a hole in the ground, firepit products enable you to build a fire in a raised container so that the base surface isn’t singed or damaged. A flat area of grassy lawn or your garden patio are both perfect places to put a firepit, as long as you don’t get too close to buildings or fences.
There are several types of outdoor firepit designs available, even some hybrid models that you can be used as both a BBQ and a firepit. They are very flexible when it comes to fuel; you can use wood logs, BBQ charcoal or even manufactured products like heat logs and briquettes. That said, we would strongly advise burning fuels that burn hot and generate as little smoke as possible – kiln dried hardwood is ideal. It will make your firepit much more enjoyable to sit around, and you won’t annoy your neighbours with excessive smoke.
In this blog we look at the three main types of firepit and consider their pros and cons.
Chimeneas are usually made from clay or aluminium and look and behave more like an indoor fireplace, with an opening to the firebox on one side and a chimney stack that funnels heat and smoke upwards. This may be desirable in a smaller space, but you don’t get the campfire effect where heat and light are distributed equally on all sides. The other drawback is that the clay construction is not as robust as open metal firepits and they can break easily if they are knocked over. However, they do come in many attractive shapes and designs and are often chosen for their visual appeal. They can make a sensible choice for homes with children and pets since the fire is more contained than some of the other options listed in this article.
Cast Iron Fire Pits
Probably the closest thing to a real campfire, these firepits consist of an open cast iron dish set on sturdy legs. They come in many different sizes, including very large models that can take a really big fire. They often include a mesh lid to protect nearby legs from getting singed by flying sparks, and sometimes have side handles so that they can be easily moved. There is some assembly required but this is a one-off job and a quality cast iron firepit should give you years of use with its robust construction.
Combination Fire Pit and BBQ
If you would like a BBQ and a firepit all rolled into one flexible product, then this would be a great choice. With the bowl shape of a traditional firepit they include a grill for cooking your food. When bellies are full, you can remove the grill and keep the fire going with your fuel of choice to provide a source of heat long into the night. Some models also come with a mesh safety cover that stops sparks but doesn’t prevent heat from radiating outwards.
No matter which type of outdoor firepit you decide on, we strongly recommend that you go for a well-made, quality product and burn only kiln dried wood with a moisture content of below 20%. There will always be cheaper firepit options available from supermarkets and discount stores, but when you are dealing with the extreme heat of a roaring fire it is best to go for a high quality firepit that won’t warp, crack or quickly rust.