While many people are buying fire pits these days, an outdoor gas fireplace is still extremely popular. In many cases people will consider them to actually be the same thing. The differences are perhaps much to do with size and shape, with an outdoor gas fireplace being just that – a fireplace that is used outdoors! It will look very much like the fireplace you would find inside a home whereas a fire pit is something that mimics a traditional camp fire and is nothing like anything you would find inside your home.
Its all in the Shape
So when we talk about outdoor gas fireplaces we expect a standard looking fire which will be square or rectangular in shape probably embedded in a fixed position in a garden or yard. But things have changed and a wide variety of shapes and sizes are now available. You can even get a hanging swing fire pit.
What sort of Fuel
You can fuel your fireplace with wood but a much more convenient solution is to use some form of gas. This is usually either Propane or Natural Gas. Remember to read any safety information that comes with your fireplace carefully as there are safety implications with installation and use where gas is concerned.
Some of the problems you might experience with an outdoor gas fireplace:
- Dark orange flames can be caused by lack of air due to dirt or dust in the gas supply. Check and clean vents according to the supplied instructions.
- A whistling noise can also occur due to dirt or air in the supply. Check your supplied instrcutions or have the gas checked by a qualified engineer.
- You hear a clicking noise after you switch off. This is normal and is just the sound produced as the metal cools.
- Black soot can form over time if the fireplace is installed in an exposed windy location due to the wind causing an erratic flame. There are safety issues with location so always follow manufacturers guidance.
How to Build a Fire Pit
The first question to consider is where are you going to build it. You need a safe location with enough space round it so that people can gather and there is no risk of the fire spreading. Remember to look up as well as around. The ground needs to be suitable and of course if you are going to build a fire pit in a park or other similar area you need to take seriously any fire regulations.
You can build a permanent fire pit for which there are many pre-made pits available where you don’t so much build one as assemble it. I am assuming here that you are going to try and build a fire pit not just buy a kit.
Depending on the surface on which you are building your fire pit you may or may not need a base to it. If the location is dirt or sand or some other non-flammable material and there is no problem with leaving a mark on it due to the heat then you are best just using what is there as a base to your fire pit. In other situations, you will need a piece of non-flammable material, probably metal to use a base.
Make a ring of fire bricks and make sure they are large enough and sturdy enough to hold the grill grate.
The Grill Grate
Something to put your food on is also a bonus, like a grill grate. A heavy cast iron one would be best. The grill grate will provide a good guide to the overall size of your fire pit. Don’t fall into the trap of making the fire pit then getting a grate and finding it is too small. The grate should overlap the bricks to make sure it is stable. If hyou don’t want to go to the expense of a grill grate some long skewers will do as a minimum.
A mesh cover is recommended but not vital. The advantages are that it will give you some extra control over your fire to stop embers flying if the fire is burning fiercely.
Cooking on a Fire Pit
Cooking on a fire pit requires practice unless you have a gas fire pit, which provides instant constant heat. With wood it is slow to get going, then typically burns fiercely with large flames before settling down to the ideal stage of nice hot glowing embers. This is the best stage for cooking. The embers will start to cool so you have to then add more wood and go through the cycle again.
Build a Fire Pit – Sorted
Not that hard really. Just remember safety, including other people’s safety is most important. Next most important is to have a good time 🙂