Once you have your fire pit in action, here are some useful tips to help you get even more from your outdoor entertaining as well as some to help you keep your family and guests safe, and comfortable.
Extinguishing the fire
The best method for extinguishing a fire is to let it die out naturally. If this isn’t possible a good option is to douse the fire with sand, leave for 1 hour and check with a long-handled ash scraper (or equivalent) to uncover any coals that still may be red. Then douse remaining hot coals with sand, repeat until the fire is completely cool. Be sure not to leave the fire unattended until completely extinguished. Note: simply adding water to the fire will cause increased smoke and may potentially damage your fire pit — extreme hot to extreme cold.
‘Weathering Steel’ Fire pits (rust) are designed to naturally oxidise and deepen in colour over time. If your fire pit becomes scratched or marked, do not attempt to sand it, simply allow the natural corrosion process of weathering steel occur and correct itself. You can use a metal primer to avoid rust running and staining surfaces, however it’s recommended you contact your sealant specialist for advice on specific weathering steel sealants.
Adding a grill grate to your fire pit
Add another dimension to your fire pit by adding a grill grate, enabling you to BBQ hamburgers, sausages, steaks, kebabs and a whole lot more. Consisting of either cast iron or steel, a grill grate will convert your fire pit into a fully functional grill. Most people opt for cast iron grill grates which retain more heat, are easier to clean, and typically last longer. The one downside to cast iron grill grates is that they cost a little more than their steel counterparts, however as they last longer than steel they are a smart investment.
How to avoid smoke
Excess fire pit smoke is typically the result of the incomplete burning of firewood due to excess moisture in the wood, “green” wood or older wood that has not been able to adequately dry. The solution is pretty simple: choosing the right kind of wood that is both adequately dried and not a variety predisposed to smoking excessively when burned should keep smoke to a minimum. Also, burning wood types that contain pitch/sap and other naturally occurring substances can also be a factor in excess fire pit smoke.
Getting rid of your fire pit ash
Don’t just ‘trash’ your fire pit’s ashes, consider saving them. Firewood ash has dozens of practical uses, some of which may surprise you. One of the best is to use ash as plant fertiliser. If you have a garden or flowerbed, try sprinkling some leftover ash in it. Wood ash contains essential nutrients, including potassium, that plants need to grow and stay healthy as well as improving the pH level of soil that’s too alkaline. What’s more, you can even use leftover ash to keep common pests, like snails and slugs, out your garden or flowerbed.
How to make your fire pit area cosy
While nothing beats getting family and friends over to gather around your open pit fire and enjoying a glass of wine, toast marshmallows, there are a number of ways you can make your outdoor fire area even more cosy, romantic and stylish. Here are just a few of the many tips you can pick up. Customise the fabric of your outdoor furniture for an original look. Create added privacy by planting hedges. Why not hang up some string lights around the outdoor area perimeter, or maybe use large stones or rocks to ‘enclose’ your fire pit area.
Use long-handled tools
You quickly discover that for both safety and convenience, long-handled cooking utensils and fire tending tools are a must. To kit yourself out with the cooking basics you will need at least a set of tongs, spatula and a spoon. If you are cooking meat, you will also need a meat fork. Those who have a barbecue grill will likely already have these items on hand but, if you don’t, make sure you purchase sturdy, fire-safe tools and always avoid plastic.
Anyone who enjoys the outdoors is always at battle with the one thing that can prevent you from enjoying your outdoor living space — mosquitoes. While small in size, mosquitoes are a serious nuisance, however the good news is that simply by burning sage bundles in your fire pit you can keep annoying mosquitoes away. After building a hot fire in your fire pit, toss a bundle or two of sage in it. It will fill your patio or outdoor living space with a pleasant, fragrant aroma and act as a natural mosquito repellent.
Choose the right location
In terms of safety, choosing your location is one of the key decisions to make. Don’t put a fire pit under a porch, overhang or tree, and when you install the fire pit, it should be positioned on a gravel area, with plenty of room for movement around the pit when it’s lit. Be sure to avoid tight, secluded or high-traffic areas and do not use a fire pit on top of, or close to, decking or any other flammable surfaces or items such as grass, wood chips, leaves or furniture.
Check council regulations
Don’t build a fire pit without approval from local authorities, and If you live in an apartment and the building has a body corporate, you’ll need to check the regulations to make sure they allow fire pits.