There’s nothing quite like the comforting warmth and captivating dance of a fire on a chilly night. It’s an ideal setting for making memories with friends and family. However, along with the pleasure of a fire pit comes the responsibility of extinguishing it safely.

There are multiple ways to put out a fire pit, and the best method may depend on your specific situation.

Choosing the Right Fuel for Your Fire Pit

Before we delve into how to safely extinguish a fire pit, it’s crucial to understand what materials are safe to burn in one. Unsurprisingly, wood is the ideal fuel for a fire pit – but not just any old wood.

Hardwoods: Your Fire Pit’s Best Friend

Hardwoods like oak, sycamore, and maple are excellent choices for your fire pit. However, these woods should be seasoned for at least six months before use. “Seasoned” wood refers to wood that has been cut and left to cure, thus reducing its moisture content. If the wood isn’t seasoned, it will produce an excess of smoke and burn inefficiently. To keep your firewood in the best condition, proper storage and stacking techniques are essential.

Softwoods: Use with Caution

On the other hand, burning softwoods in your fire pit may lead to a shower of sparks. If you choose to use softwood, make sure to use a screen to contain these sparks. And as a rule of thumb, your firewood should be about three-quarters the diameter of your fire pit.

Items to Avoid Burning in Your Fire Pit

Certain materials should never make their way into your fire pit, as they can release hazardous gases, create a mess, or pose a risk to the surrounding environment.

Things to never burn in fire pits

  • Pressure-treated, composite, and plywood boards emit hazardous gases when they are set on fire.
  • Plastic splatters and emits noxious odors into your fire pit, making it unusable.
  • Using lighter fluid or gasoline, for example, to get your fire going is a bad idea, because the leftover fuel will be hazardous. Water will only make the problem worse by adding to the risk of contamination to the surrounding environment.
  • To avoid rocks exploding in your fire pit, avoid putting river stones in there.

Safely putting out fire pits

Now, let’s get into the main reason why you’re reading this article: how to put out a fire pit safely. There are various methods, and some might be better suited to certain scenarios than others.


man in black t-shirt and blue denim jeans holding white feather

The most common method of extinguishing a fire is using water. However, this requires more than a single bucket of water standing by. To put out a fire pit safely with water, you’ll need a garden hose with a versatile nozzle.

The key here is to set your nozzle to spray mode rather than stream mode. A shower-type spray can safely extinguish a fire, while a straight stream of water might spread sparks. Be cautious when adding water to the fire, as the steam from the cold liquid splashing on hot coals can cause burns.

After soaking the wood, embers, and ash with water, stir the contents with a shovel or a stick until they are thoroughly wet and cooled down. While water can quickly cool and extinguish the fire, it may not be the best solution for your fire pit, especially if it’s made of metal. Extreme temperature changes can cause metal fire pits to crack and wear prematurely, potentially voiding your fire pit’s warranty.

Sand and dirt

Person crouches down with a handful of sand that slips through their fingers

If you want to preserve the longevity of your metal fire pit or don’t have easy access to water, using dry sand or soil is a good option. Using a shovel, scatter sand or soil over the embers and stir until the fire is completely out.

Snuffer cover

A snuffer cover or a fire pit lid can quickly and effectively extinguish a fire. These heavy-duty covers fit snugly over the pit and prevent sparks from escaping. They come in various designs, colors, and materials, but what you need is a robust, cone-shaped cover with strong grips and no air gaps.

Fire extinguisher

red fire extinguisher on green wall

Having a fire extinguisher nearby is always a good idea when you’re working with fire. It’s crucial to have a fire extinguisher that’s suited for the type of fire you might encounter. For a fire pit, a class A fire extinguisher, which is designed to fight fires involving common combustibles like wood and paper, is a suitable choice.

To use a fire extinguisher, remember the PASS acronym: Pull the pin, Aim at the base of the fire, Squeeze the lever, and Sweep from side to side until the fire is completely out. Make sure to check your fire extinguisher periodically to ensure it’s in good working order.

Post-Extinguishing Procedure

After you’ve extinguished the fire, it’s crucial not to leave the fire pit unattended until it has cooled completely. It may take several hours for the embers to cool down enough to safely leave them unattended. Use the back of your hand to check the temperature—never touch the ashes directly.

Once the fire pit has cooled, dispose of the ashes appropriately. Don’t dump them directly into a trash can or other combustible container. Instead, place them in a metal bucket or can and wet them down thoroughly. Allow the ashes to sit for at least 24 hours before disposing of them to ensure they are completely cool.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to safely extinguish your fire pit can ensure a fun and safe time for everyone involved. Always remember to prepare before starting a fire and to take the necessary precautions when extinguishing it. Being mindful of the potential hazards can help prevent accidents and ensure you and your guests can enjoy a cozy fire pit gathering without worry.