Outdoor fire pits have soared in popularity for UK gardens lately!
As more of us enjoy our outdoor space and make the most of our gardens, so has our need for keeping those chilly nights at bay.
Not only do they keep us warm, fire pits also bring a fantastic atmosphere. With flames crackling away into the evening, they really are perfect for enjoying at almost any time of year - from cocktails in the summer evenings to toasting marshmallows come autumn!
Are you thinking of buying one for your garden this season? Our guide has all the information you need to know...
Can you have a fire pit in your garden in the UK?
In the UK, it is perfectly legal to have a fire pit in your garden. However, there is some guidance that you should follow…
- Don’t cause a nuisance to your neighbours - burning a fire every night that sends plumes of unpleasant smoke through their windows might provoke them to lodge a complaint with your local council - which could result in a fine!
- Burn only dry, seasoned wood - throwing on damp twigs is not only ineffective at producing heat, but will cause unnecessary smoke, too.
There are a couple of more stringent rules, too, that will get you in serious trouble if you break…
- You can’t allow your smoke to become so thick and heavy that it impedes visibility on public roads - though this is unlikely with a small garden fire pit
- Burning anything that can create dangerous fumes is a serious no-no. Plastics, oils, paints, flammables and any other chemicals should be kept well away from your fire pit.
So, be considerate of your neighbours and always put safety first. Then, you should have no problems having a fire pit in your garden.
Is cast iron or steel better for a fire pit?
First of all, many people wonder what the best fire pits are made of.
Other than brick, there are two metals you can usually choose between - cast iron or steel. The question is, which one is better?
Cast iron is heavier than steel, so is more durable in terms of withstanding knocks. It’s also often thicker, so has a chunkier appearance that some people prefer.
However, there is one point that has steel fire pits coming up trumps - rust. Cast iron is highly prone to rust and corrodes in the reliable English rain, while stainless steel is far more weather resistant.
In addition, steel fire pits often have more impressive modern designs, making an eye-catching feature for your garden. As they are lightweight, they are also much easier to move around your garden and store away when needed.
Where should you place your outdoor fire pit?
Safety is key when deciding where to place your outdoor fire pit.
You need to find a sturdy, level surface first, so you can be sure it won’t be at risk of toppling over. It also needs to be at least 3 metres away from your and any neighbours’ homes - though we advise leaving as much space as possible.
You also will need to keep it clear of anything hanging overhead, such as tree branches. It’s not a good idea to put one under a canopy or covered patio either - the smoke won’t be able to escape, which will be both unpleasant and dangerous for your lungs.
When it comes to arranging your seating, keep your chairs about 1.5m away from the fire pit. This protects you from being burnt by any sparks. Other flammable materials, such as blankets and cushions, should also be kept well away.
Can you put a fire pit on grass?
It’s not recommended that you place a metal fire pit on your lawn. For a start, the grass will likely become scorched from the heat. Secondly, sparks and embers are more likely to catch fire on the combustible materials that can be found on your lawn.
Is it safe to have a fire pit on a wooden deck?
It’s always best to check with your fire pit’s manufacturer on whether it is safe to put on a wooden deck. Usually, you will need to use a heat resistant mat or place some bricks underneath to protect the wood.
How do I protect my patio from a fire pit?
If your fire is hot enough, it may well damage your patio slabs depending on how well they can withstand high temperatures. Again, check with the manufacturer to see what they recommend, though it will still be a good idea to use a heat resistant shield to place your fire pit on.
A fire pit with a taller stand can help protect your patio too, as it allows more space between the bottom of the fire and the ground.
What kind of wood do you use for a fire pit?
It should say in the manual of your fire pit what fuel should be used with it.
Generally though, it is always better to burn dry, seasoned wood in your fire pit. The moisture content should be below 20%. This ensures your fire is most efficient and produces the lowest level of pollution.
Don’t use your fire pit as a chance to burn unwanted bits of furniture or household wood, either. It will probably be coated in varnish that will release nasty chemicals into the air you are breathing.
For the best experience, choose a wood that produces as few sparks as possible for your fire pit. You don’t want embers popping everywhere when you are trying to relax! Wood that produces heavy smoke will also be unpleasant, so choose one that burns nice and clean. If you become really familiar with wood types, you can even begin to choose a type that gives off the best woody aroma.
To start with, kiln-dried hardwoods such as ash and oak give a good heat output, long burn and low levels of smoke.
How do you light a fire in a fire pit?
Pay attention to the weather when lighting your outdoor fire pit! Wind can make it both difficult and more dangerous - loose clothing can easily catch on the flames, while embers or ashes could blow up and across your garden. So, save it for a calmer day.
Many people like to start by putting a layer of sand at the bottom of their fire pit. This provides some insulation to retain the fire’s heat, plus can help protect the surface below the pit.
Before you move on to lighting the fire, check there are no flammables around. Sweep up any dried leaves and tidy away any other mess or debris.
Place some firelighters in the bottom of the bowl. Natural, chemical-free fire starters are sometimes preferred by those who don’t like the smell of chemical-based ones. Position some kindling around the fire lighter to create a teepee like structure.
Light the fire starters and wait for the kindling to catch fire. Once you have some good flames going, you can start placing some bigger logs on. You shouldn’t use any logs that are wider than your fire pit - they should be able to fit inside the bowl easily.
Remember never to throw any lighter fluid or other flammables on your fire, as this is highly dangerous.
It’s a good idea to have an emergency fire extinguisher close by too, just in case - or at least a hose pipe and bucket of sand.
How to put out a fire pit safely
Lighting fire is one thing, but how do you put one out safely?
It’s always best to allow your fire pit to burn down to ash - never leave your fire pit unattended, though. Spread the ashes out and be sure there is no fuel left in the pit for the fire.
You can then carefully pour some water over them and stir them with a poker to make sure they are completely damped out. If the ashes aren’t completely extinguished, they can flare up again unexpectedly, so be sure before you leave them.
Place your ashes into a bucket and wait until they are completely cool before putting them in the bin.
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