Outdoor entertainment is no longer restricted to the warmer months. Today, fire pits are almost a requirement for every home. They warm the cool nights and are perfect for a marshmallow roast, not to mention how relaxing it is to sit there and watch the flames flicker. The temperature of your fire depends on the type of fire pit you have and the type of fuel you use.
Fire pits are available in a variety of styles, sizes, and materials. From a lightweight metal bowl that can be installed anywhere to fixed masonry features ideal for gathering around on a patio, the right product for you is determined by how frequently you will use it, where you will put it, your budget, and local code.
Some owners swear by a crackling wood fire and are willing to put up with the smoke and ash that it produces. Others may prefer the ease of flipping a switch and having more controllable flames.
The structure of your fire pit, as well as the materials used in its construction, influence the temperatures it can reach. To start a fire, you’ll need three things: oxygen, fuel, and heat. When you combine those three ingredients, a chemical reaction occurs, resulting in the production of heat. Temperatures in a bonfire can reach 2012 degrees Fahrenheit (1100 degrees Celsius). That is hot enough to easily reach the melting point of aluminum.
Types of fire pit housing
The material used to construct a fire pit’s structure can significantly impact the amount of heat it produces.
Here are the two most common pit types you’ll come across:
- Fire bowls are the most cost-effective type of fire pit. They are typically made of steel and are self-contained. Some people make them out of old industrial propane tanks that have been cut in half. They should be kept as close to the ground as possible.
- Masonry fire pits are often more appealing. They are made up of a metal firebox surrounded by layers of bricks or pavers. These have the benefit of absorbing radiant heat from flames and storing it for later release. They are, however, more expensive and time-consuming to build.
Different types of fuel are suitable for use in pits, just as there are different pits. Heat output from fire pits is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units).
Wood, smokeless coal, charcoal, wood chips, and gases such as propane and fireplace ethanol are common fuel options for fire pits. Let’s see if we can find the best option for your heating requirements.
A bioethanol gas fire pit is generally more decorative and not intended for outdoor use. Because they are smaller, they use less fuel, have a smaller flame, and produce less heat than other types. These fire pits should have a heat output of between 1000 and 4000 BTUs. That’s a sufficient amount of heat to create a comfortable atmosphere in a closed entertainment room. Even so, they would struggle to keep you warm if used outside, especially on chilly evenings.
Propane fire pits are easier to light than wood-burning fire pits. The heat can be controlled and has little to no mess to clean up afterward. Manufacturers of propane-powered products typically advertise their heat rating to compete in the market. There are propane pits that produce only 10,000 BTUs at the low end of the scale. They are more decorative, with an emphasis on the product’s style as well as the amount of heat it can produce. A domestic gas-powered product’s maximum output will be around 70,000 BTUs.
Unlike a propane fire pit, a gas fire pit must be stationary because the gas is supplied by a gas line connected to your home. Natural gas costs about one-sixth of propane price in some areas, and it is more convenient because you will not run out of gas. Propane is more efficient, producing approximately 2500BTUs, whereas natural gas produces only 1000BTUs in the same volume.
It is difficult to determine the temperature of a wood fire. Numerous factors can influence the heat produced by burning wood. As a result, it is unlikely that manufacturers will specify the amount of heat produced by their product.
Any fire bowl that uses wood as its primary fuel will reach higher temperatures than gas burners. When wood burns, two types of heat are produced. The first is the radiant heat from the glowing loop and embers, and the second is the flames produced as the wood burns. When burning wood, the temperature can reach over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, and the heat output can easily exceed 100,000 BTUs. The size of the fire bowl in which the wood is burning will have an impact on this. The larger the bowl, the larger the flames and the higher the heat.
The amount of air that can circulate around the fire will also affect the heat levels. The more airflow there is, the more heat there will be. As a result, the location of your outdoor fire pit structure is an important factor in how much heat you will generate. A hot spot in the center will generate more heat than one off the side or tucked away out of sight.
Dealing with spillover heat
If you plan to install a wood-fired pit or a higher-output propane installation, make sure the surrounding area is prepared for the possibility of high temperatures.
Radiant heat from wood fires can reach temperatures of over 200 degrees Fahrenheit, softening and melting some commonly used outdoor plastics.
It is also critical to clear the low-hanging tree branches and shrubbery area and have a hose or chemical fire extinguisher nearby if your fire becomes out of control.
A spark screen is also a good investment for windy days to prevent embers from escaping the confines of your pit.
Heat mitigation options for propane and biofuel fire pits are limited, as a basic fire extinguisher should typically extinguish any accidental flames.
It is highly unlikely that any flammable residue will accumulate and cause problems if you do not cook over your fire pit.
Making use of your outdoor pit fire safely
Installing a fire pit is a great way to use your backyard during the cold winter months, but you must ensure your safety and the safety of others by following a few simple rules.
- Position at least ten feet away from any structure or flammable vegetation, such as trees or grass.
- Place the fire pit it 10 feet away from your neighbor’s yard, not under a pergola, covered porch, or low-hanging tree, and not on a wooden deck or directly on the grass.
- Before lighting, always check the wind direction.
- If it is too windy, do not light.
- To light, do not use lighter fluid. Make use of a commercial fire starter and firewood.
- To light or re-light, do not use any flammable fluids.
- Never leave anything unattended, even for a minute. Before leaving, extinguish the fire with water.
- Children and pets should never be left unattended near a hot pit.
- Ensure that everyone keeps a safe distance from the flames.
- Consider building a covered fire pit with a wire mesh cover to keep embers inside and children and pets from falling in.
- Reduce the amount of fuel you add to the fire. Use only what is required to keep it burning gently.
- Do not throw trash or paper products into the fire. They easily ignite and eject embers or burning remnants.
- Wear flammable or loose-fitting clothing when near the pit.
- Do not burn softwoods such as pine or cedar. They can pop and throw sparks.
- In case of an emergency, keep a container of water and a hose nearby.
How to measure the temperature of a fire pit
We recommend using an Infrared Thermometer to measure the temperature that a fire pit can reach accurately. This way, you won’t have to guess and can instead get precise measurements.
Fluke 62 max infrared thermometer
The Fluke 62 Max Infrared Thermometer is a versatile, portable, and high-performing device that can be used for various tasks. Extreme temperatures spanning from -22°F (-30°C) to 932°F (500°C) can be measured safely without coming into contact with the object. This is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
Temperatures can be measured precisely in:
- Outdoor pizza ovens
- BBQs and Grills
- Fire pits
- Professional maintenance
- Outdoor and indoor temperatures and humidity
- Water temperature
- Electronic components
- Valves and vents
Furthermore, this infrared thermometer is useful for other difficult-to-reach areas for repair and maintenance. Its adjustable emissivity also improves accuracy when measuring temperatures on various surfaces. This well-designed thermometer has a fast response time of less than half a second, allowing you to take quick and accurate measurements in no time.
- Has a user-friendly design
- Provides accurate measurement readings
- Portable and compact size
- Equipped with adjustable emissivity and temperature alarm
- Rugged design that can withstand a 3-meter drop
- Safe to use
- Warranty included
- Offers great value for money
- Battery life can be intermittent
When you’re finished with your fire pit, ensure it’s completely extinguished before leaving it unattended. Here’s how to extinguish the flames safely:
- Keep a shovel nearby to extinguish any escaped flames and extinguish the fire with water.
- Drown it and stir it with a shovel to ensure it is completely extinguished. Dispose of ashes safely.
- Keep a metal bucket solely for ash storage. For two or three days, ashes can be hot enough to start a fire.
- Hot ashes should not be discarded in a cardboard box, paper or plastic bag, compost pile, or anything combustible.
- FIRE EXTINGUISHER – In an emergency, use a dry-chemical fire extinguisher with a multipurpose rating (Class B or C). The majority have a range of only 6 to 10 feet.
Before each fire, go through this checklist to ensure your safety and comfort.
Before: Avoid burning wood in windy conditions—someone will always be dodging a face full of smoke. Metal bowl legs should be checked for rust and stability. Keep logs no longer than three-quarters the diameter of a fire bowl and only burn dry, well-seasoned wood. Do you have a gas burner? Check that all vents are clear. Long matches or a grill lighter can be used to light gel canisters. Before you start a fire, make a plan for putting it out.
During: Keep the top of the flames about as high as the fire pit walls, and keep a spark screen nearby. Keep children and pets away from open flames.
After: Turn off the gas or extinguish the flames. Remove the wood ash from a metal bucket with a lid, later. When a fire pit has completely cooled, cover it to protect it from the elements.
To prevent discoloration, most metal fire bowls are painted black. However, the finish can fade over time, especially if you’re burning wood. Touch up the finish and cover rust spots with spray paint designed to withstand temperatures of up to 1,200°F, or coat the inside of a masonry fire pit uniformly black.
Protect your deck
On a wood deck, a fire screen can keep stray sparks and embers at bay, but composite decking must also be protected from the bowl.
A metal fire pit can reach 800°F and radiate 200° to 400° of heat onto decking; plastics soften at 176°C and melt between 250°C and 350°C.
A thermal barrier can keep high temperatures from warping composites.
DeckProtect (shown above) is a perforated aluminum tray filled with flameproof basalt rock-fiber insulation. Choose one that is the same size as the circumference of the fire pit to fit between the legs or, better yet, with all four legs on the mat.
How much will a fire pit cost?
A 28-inch steel wood-fire bowl can be had for as little as $30. For a 46-inch fire pit, most propane-burning fire pits start around $400. For a similar-sized fire pit, custom masonry costs around $2,400.
Your outdoor fire pit can serve as a cozy focal point for a relaxing evening with family and friends. Remember that it is a hot centerpiece that, if not handled properly, can quickly get out of hand. All that remains is to go outside and enjoy the sunshine.
Last update on 2022-08-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API