Nothing beats the warmth of the crackling fire. On a cold night, we all want to huddle around something warm. Those who provide the chance for friends to assemble around a wood-burning fire should be able to also extinguish the flames. Different people have different ideas on how to properly extinguish a fire pit. There are a variety of safe ways to put out a fire pit, and some methods are better suited to certain scenarios than others.

Fire pit

A fire pit is nothing more than a fire contained within a hole excavated in the ground or in a more enclosed area. It is possible to construct one of these out of brick, steel, or another type of metal. Even if a pit fire is kept in one of these enclosures, it is still considerably more open than a fireplace.

Fire pits are quite popular. The odds are that you’ve seen them previously at a campground. Many people choose these constructs because they are low-cost, simple to operate, and fire-safe.

Ideal spots for fire pits

Choosing the appropriate location for your outdoor fire pit is one method to make sure it’s safe around your fire pit. Always check that the ground is level before setting up a portable fire pit. Keep flames at least 10 – 20 feet away from adjacent plants and structures. Make sure your fire pit has enough ventilation and isn’t situated near anything combustible.

If you place plastic items, such as water bottles, too close to your fire pit, they might melt and damage the surface. When plastic is burned, it emits noxious gases into the atmosphere. Consult your local municipal and county officials to confirm that you are adhering to the legal distance requirements. 

In addition to deciding where to put your firepit, you’ll want to figure out what kind of surface you want it to be made of. Brick, stone, gravel, and concrete are all good options for pit surfaces since they all have a low coefficient of friction. It is never acceptable to have a fire pit on a wooden deck.

The most basic fire pit is a metal bowl with a grill on top and a protective screen cover. Patios and courtyards with adequate circulation and municipal laws that allow it can benefit from the option of a covered fire pit. Using a fire pit in a confined location is never a good idea. Large and small portable pits are both available. The open sides of the fire bowl’s self-made lid allow you to add fuel quickly, while its waterproof construction stops rain from seeping in. In the summer, these fire pits double as functional planters.

Even while chimineas don’t produce a lot of heat, their wood-burning scent and ease of installation make them attractive as a fire pit option. Alternatively, there are pits that don’t contain anything except a limestone ring that has been mortared together. Some more advanced designs feature a drain in the middle that’s connected to a pipe running underground to properly dispose of any rainfall that it collects.

Large backyards benefit greatly from having an in-ground or brick fire pit. They are more than capable of handling big logs, and can comfortably hold a larger, higher-temperature fire. A rectangular block retaining wall can be constructed to form a block pit. Once the grass, soil, and other debris have been removed, lay a gravel base on top and press it down. To connect the blocks together, use a concrete glue. Place a layer of fire bricks in the interior of the fire pit, then add a layer of lava rocks beneath them for the foundation.

Materials that are safe to burn in a fire pit

It goes without saying that wood is the ideal fuel for a fire pit because that’s what they are made of. However, you can’t simply burn any old wood in a fire pit. Oak, sycamore, and maple are examples of hardwoods that will burn best if they have been seasoned for at least six months, if not more, before being used.

Wood that has been cut and left to cure for a long period of time is referred to as “seasoned.” Without allowing the wood to season, it will retain too much moisture to ignite readily or burn efficiently, resulting in a lot of smoke when it is finally ignited and burnt. Proper storage and stacking techniques are necessary to prevent firewood from becoming moldy or rotting.

The use of softwoods should be avoided due to the possibility of sparks. Use a screen if you’re going to use softwood in your fire pit to keep the sparks contained.

If possible, keep your firewood to a length that’s about three-quarters the diameter of the pit.

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

Water

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

Put out your fire using water, but don’t just keep one bucket of it on the side for this purpose.  In order to extinguish the flames with water, you’ll need a garden hose and a nozzle with a variety of tips. Extinguishing fires safely calls for the nozzle to be set to spray mode rather than stream mode.

HGTV reports that a shower-type spray may put out a fire safely, whereas a straight stream of water can spread sparks.

Remember to keep your distance when adding water, since the vapor from the cold liquid splashing on hot coals might cause burns.

After the wood, embers, and ash have been soaked in water, use a shovel or a stick to stir the contents until they are completely wet and cooled down.

Despite the fact that water can swiftly cool and extinguish fire, it may not be the greatest solution for your fire pit, especially if it is made of metal.

Constant extreme temperature changes may adversely affect the strength of metal fire pits, perhaps leading to cracking and premature wear. This may also be a violation of your fire pit’s warranty, depending on the manufacturer.

This is a good alternative for putting out fires if you’re intending on upgrading or updating your fire pit on a frequent basis. While using water is a popular method of putting out a fire, you may maintain your fire pit’s structure over time by instead utilizing alternative choices.

Sand and dirt

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

Dry sand or soil is a typical technique to extinguish a fire pit when no water is available. At this point, if the fire hasn’t completely burnt out, we suggest using a shovel to scatter some sand and soil over the embers.

Stir the cinders, sand, and soil with a shovel or a stick until the fire is totally extinguished.

Choosing this option is the best choice if you want to use your metal fire pit for many years to come. You could also find it convenient if your backyard fire pit is positioned in a way that the garden hose cannot reach it, especially if it is a permanent fixture in your yard.

Snuffer cover

Copper fire pit covers and metal fire pit covers are other good options for putting out fire pits quickly and effectively. If you’re ready to put out the fire, use one of these heavy-duty snuffer covers or fire pit lids, which fit snugly over the pit and prevent sparks from escaping.

With a cover that restricts airflow to the fading embers, you won’t have to worry about the fire rekindling once you put it out. Snuffer lids may be found in a wide range of designs, colors, and materials. You need a robust, cone-shaped cover with strong grips and no gaps for air to enter.

Rain will not get into the pit bowl if there is a strong metal top on the pit. Additionally, if you have an in-ground pit, a heavy metal cover will keep animals and others out while you’re away.

Fire extinguisher

red fire extinguisher on green wall

When it comes to putting out a pit fire, using an extinguisher probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, a fire is a fire.

This approach is effective, but it’s something you need to make a point of performing on a regular basis.

Using a fire extinguisher should only be done in case of an emergency. Because of this, employing one to put out a recreational fire is not the wisest choice. You might be in for some trouble if you fail to install a new fire extinguisher after your current one is used.

Aside from that, replacing fire extinguishers may be rather costly. In addition, prolonged exposure to it or breathing in fire extinguisher vapor may be hazardous to one’s health.

Furthermore, depending on where you live, carrying one around may not be an option, so learning alternative techniques is essential.

How to use a fire extinguisher

Nevertheless, because most individuals have never used a fire extinguisher before, they may experience additional worry and anxiety in the event of an unintentional fire. Try not to develop the habit of using it to put out an unintentional recreational fire as a learning experience. To help you recall the right way to put out a fire, use the acronym PASS:

  • P: To release the seal, remove the safety pin.
  • A: Aim the nozzle at the heart of the blaze.
  • S: Squeeze the extinguisher’s handle to discharge the contents.
  • S: Use a sweeping motion from side to side, making sure to extinguish the flames from the bottom up.

Always remember this acronym, so you are always prepared to use a fire extinguisher if the situation calls for it. 

Put out the fire by not putting out the fire

It’s important to think about the hazards of leaving a backyard fire pit unattended if you plan on letting it burn out on its own.

Cooling fire pits may be just as dangerous as those that have roaring fires raging, in part because no one is there to deal with or warn others of potential risks.

Fire Pit Tip-Overs: If the fire pit tips over for whatever reason, burning embers may come into touch with surrounding fuel sources (pine needles, dry grass, firewood, your deck, etc.)

You might wonder what might cause your fire pit to tumble over. Kids and pets, wild creatures (raccoons, deer, and occasional bears, and so on) and plenty of other things that dwell in the country and the wilderness. Remember, Murphy is a nocturnal creature.

If you have youngsters in the area, you may want to opt for a more “certain” method of putting out the fire. Because kids can be unexpected and do things they aren’t meant to, but it’s also for their own safety. I’m well aware of this because I have three children who are all 10 or younger.

It’s important to keep in mind that if you have a wood-burning fire pit that can’t tip over, sparking from cooling embers combined with surrounding fuel sources might provide an unintentional fire danger.

If any of these factors don’t apply and the risk is negligible, allowing the fire to burn out naturally may be a viable choice.

How to do it:  

  • Once the flames have gone down, leave them to burn out on their own. This is the most straightforward method.
  • As previously said, keep an eye on youngsters and place severe restrictions on where they are allowed to go near the fire pit.
  • Clear the space surrounding the fire pit and remove anything combustible or heat-sensitive that may be nearby.
  • If the fire pit is on a hardscape surface and away from combustible items, simply watering the area around it can help reduce the chance of a fire and harm from expelled sparks.

How to put out a wood-burning fire pit

wood-burning fire pit

Properly used, fire pits are great additions to your outdoor areas that provide beauty and comfort. However, if they are used incorrectly, they may be hazardous fire dangers. Fortunately, pit fires may be avoided by using them in a safe manner and extinguishing them completely. Coals, embers, ashes, and wood may all maintain heat for several hours or even several days depending on the conditions.

This will prevent an unintentional backyard blaze by putting out your pit’s fire completely. Be sure to have a few things on hand before you begin the fire. Prepare a huge pail of water, an ash shovel, and a yard hose.

To avoid a fire hazard, it is advisable to utilize dry, seasoned wood if using a wood-burning pit. Most reclaimed furniture and lumber should not be used since they’re often rather dry and often covered in paint, stain, or chemicals. Using consistent pieces of wood in a firepit can help you regulate the size of your fire and make better use of your fuel. Keep all of your discarded wood from woodworking projects for the fire pit. Don’t put your firewood in one big clump in the fire pit. Arrange the wood such that there is a definite separation between the pieces.

Fires may be lit by setting a crumpled-up piece of paper under a tiny bundle of twigs, or you can use fire starters that you buy at the shop. To build a slow fire, start with a few tiny sticks then add larger ones as the fire grows. If you’re packing up and moving in soon, don’t add an extra piece of wood.

It’s preferable to let the fire burn down to ash before attempting to extinguish it. Even if it is not emitting light, ash from a wood-burning fire pit will maintain its heat, remaining hot to the touch. Wait for the ash to cool before adding water or hot metal to your fire pit. Some of the ashes haven’t completely extinguished, so you may hear some sizzling noises.

Slowly pour water over the ashes, making sure to wet them completely, not just the ones that are red and burning. It’s important to proceed with caution, since pockets of air might cause the fire to hiss and spit at you. If there is a lot of smoke, wait a bit longer before trying again. Once the sizzling noises have ceased, use water to douse the pit.

Stir up all of the ember’s moist ashes and the remaining wood pieces with a shovel. Make certain that everything has been thoroughly moistened with water. You want the entire pit to be soaked.

If you don’t have access to water, you’ll have to put out the fire with soil or sand. Move the dirt or sand through the embers as you try to smother them by depriving them of oxygen. In the event of an underground fire, it is possible for the fire to burn out and then re-ignite. Eight hours after being covered with sand or soil, buried fires may sustain heat at 100 degrees.

Make one last check to make sure the fire has been extinguished. When you stir the ash, poke a stick in the coals and watch for glowing spots.

How to put out fires in a gas fire pit

gas fire pit

Turning off a gas fire pit makes putting out a blaze much simpler. Decorative components like lava rocks or fire glass in or around the burner should be cold to the touch before covering your gas fire pit with a lid or cover if it has either.

Additional equipment

You’ll save yourself a lot of time and annoyance if you have the appropriate equipment on hand when it’s needed. If you want to operate a wood-burning fire pit, here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Source of water (hose, bucket, etc.): A hose is best, because a bucket is very limiting in an emergency, and also you won’t be able to put out your fire pit, and you won’t have a ready source of water for any condition. With a hose that’s linked, you can obtain water for any purpose, and a nozzle with several settings will offer you alternatives for many scenarios.
  • Shovel: Having a shovel on hand can assist you stir the embers in your fire pit if you decide to douse it in water or douse it in sand or dry soil to put out the fire.H
  • After the fire pit has been extinguished, if you have to transfer it to another area, you may want to use heat-resistant gloves so that you can handle hot metal without burning your hands.A second pair of gloves is recommended in case someone is aiding you (a fire pit full with wet materials or sand/dirt is hot, dirty, heavy, and awkward depending on its size).
  • Fire extinguisher: The fire extinguisher is there as a safety precaution, not to put out your fire pit, but in case it gets out of control or someone is caught in the flames for any reason (sadly, it occurs regularly with fire pits, bonfires, and campfires, among other things). You can put out the fire quickly with the extinguisher, which is always a useful item to have around.

Make a special kit for your fire pit and store all of these materials together. So you won’t have to waste time looking for them afterwards.

Making sure the fire is out

Even if a fire isn’t smoldering, you should always check to make sure it’s completely out before leaving.

Many people may be surprised to learn that the best way to tell if a fire is completely out is to feel and touch the embers. If they’re too hot to handle, they’re too hot to let go of completely, either.

We’ll tell you about this momentarily, but it’s extremely imperative that you check for the following before leaving: all coals should be cold, all embers should be extinguished, and no flaming bits should be lying outside of the pit.

Even if active flames are hotter than coals, it doesn’t imply they aren’t hazardous.

Turning over the ashes in a fire pit ensures that all of the coals are completely extinguished. Even though it’s a painstaking process, it’s necessary for fire safety.

Safety tips for fire pit users

Building a fire pit may be as easy as circling stones in your garden or as sophisticated as having a professionally made unit installed on your patio, depending on your preferences. Whichever route you use, remember these fire pit safety guidelines before you get started.

Preparing your outdoor fire pit

  • To limit the possibility of your fire spreading beyond your fire pit, make sure the ground or surface is flat and leveled.
  • Build your fire pit at least 10 feet away from your house, fences, trees, and other structures to prevent harm resulting from the flames you light.
  • Smooth river bed rocks from riverbanks have the potential to heat up quickly, igniting, and generating a large explosion. Choose large, dry stones rather than river rocks to construct your fire pit.

Using your outdoor fire pit

  • When it’s windy, don’t use your fire pit because embers and flames might blow into your house, yard, and even neighboring trees.
  • Never start a fire using gasoline or kerosene, as these fuels have a tendency to spread fast and spiral out of control. Rather, use a bundle of dry firewood that sits just inside the perimeter of the pit.
  • Unattended flames may easily spread even in a tiny fire pit. Ensure that you’re always keeping an eye on everything.
  • Check to see that visitors keep a safe distance and don’t engage in any dangerous activity. Keep an eye on your children and your pets at all times.

Extinguishing your outdoor fire pit

  • To cool the ashes after they have been put out with water, gently swirl and spread them out. Leave just when they’ve cooled off to the touch.
  • Prepare to douse the flames if they get out of control by keeping an extinguisher, a garden hose, or a pail of sand nearby. Call 9-1-1 if you need help putting the fire out immediately.

These fire pit safety hints can help keep your family and friends safe by preventing catastrophic flames, burn injuries, and other problems. In the event of a calamity, house insurance might come in handy for you and your family.

Maximize your fire pit’s lifespan

Humans have used fire pits for thousands of years. They were their primary means of heating and cooking in the Stone Age. At one time they were simply holes dug in the earth with a campfire, but these days they’re a little more elaborate. Now that fire pits are the second most popular outdoor decor, it’s important for everyone considering purchasing one (or who has one already) to understand how to properly care for and maintain one.

  • It is important to select a fuel carefully before starting a fire. Do not burn garbage or pressure-treated wood. Rather than that, use a classic fire pit that burns wood, and only use dry, locally obtained wood that is completely free of moisture. In addition to the health risks, burning anything else might harm your fire pit over time because of the poisonous gases and chemicals released.
  • Using dry firewood eliminates the need for lighter fluid. Building your fire by following the right procedure will enable you to light it up with tinder and kindling. It’s important to remember that lighter fluid poses a real hazard to your health, and it may also damage the finish of your fire pit, which can eventually lead to deterioration. If you’re having trouble lighting your fire pit, we’ve got some advice on how to do it with just wood, tinder, and kindling later on in this post.
  • When it comes to fire pits, it’s always best to let the fire burn out naturally. Dousing your fire pit with water may be faster and easier, but the abrupt shift in temperature may cause harm to the materials used to construct your fire pit. If possible, unless there’s an emergency, sit by your fire until it’s totally out. Before you go, make sure it’s absolutely cool. The rapid cooling of a 1000-degree fire might cause structural damage to your fire pit, which could be hazardous in the future.
  • For those of you who cook on your fire pit, you know how important it is to clean the grate both before and after each usage. To clean your fire pit grate, wait until it’s totally cold before using a wire brush to scrape away any leftover food or dirt. Missing any one of these steps might lead to a hardened build-up of food on the grates, which will not be appealing the next time you want to use them. Before using the grate, drizzle it with a little frying oil. This will help to prevent corrosion and erosion, as well as making cooking more convenient.
  • When not in use, keep your fire pit covered. The longer you keep it out in the elements, the more vulnerable it will become. When it rains, the structure might rust and become hazardous to use in the future. It can also lose its aesthetic appeal.
  • Every time you use your fire pit, be sure to clean up the ashes. Using a shovel to transport ashes and debris to a non-flammable container is recommended after the fire pit has been extinguished for at least 24 hours. It is not advisable to attempt to clean up ashes while they are still hot.

Gas pits

To avoid accidents and injuries, frequent maintenance of the burner, gas lines, connectors, hoses, and fittings should be performed. Maintain the free flow of air by making sure that the apertures of the ventilation system and the surrounding regions are never blocked by dirt or trash. The blockage of gas flow due to insect waste, debris, and grease accumulation is a major risk factor in the instance of a fire. An annual inspection by a professional with a permit should be performed on the pit and the gas supply.

Is it safe to leave a fire pit burning overnight?

The hazards of leaving an unattended backyard fire pit to burn out on its own should be carefully weighed before deciding to leave it unattended. It’s possible that pets or even wild animals might topple an unattended fire pit, which is particularly true if you live in the middle of the woods or in a rural region. If these embers come into touch with any dry material, such as grass, pine needles, or even your deck, they might ignite spontaneously.

There’s still the possibility of an unintentional fire danger even if the fire pit is firmly in place and hence unlikely to be knocked over.

To prevent this situation from occurring, remove any items that are either vulnerable to heat or highly combustible from the area around the pit. The area around the fire pit should be wetted to reduce the possibility of a fire and any harm caused by expelled sparks.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a way to increase the coziness of your backyard and socialize more intimately, your outdoor pit is an excellent option. You may even be able to cook a complete dinner over an open flame depending on your fire pit.

To keep your pit in excellent operating order and to ensure the safety of you and your visitors, you must adhere to simple safety rules and maintenance suggestions. A wood-burning fire creates ambience on a winter evening, and many people like resting in front of a roaring flame. Knowing how to properly extinguish a fire pit can offer you peace of mind and ensure that your time spent around the fire is a memorable one for you and your guests.