Water extinguishes fires by cooling the combustible material and removing the oxygen supply, thereby smothering the flames. It also wets the wood and ash, reducing the likelihood of the fire restarting once the fire pit is left unattended. However, people often wonder if pouring water over a fire pit is the safest way to put out a fire.
You can pour water over your fire pit to put out a fire, but use caution. A hose with a shower setting is ideal. If using a bucket of water, don’t carelessly toss it onto the fire; pour it gently and slowly to avoid steam or splash injuries. Add water until the sizzling stops and the pit is cool.
Though water is a suitable option for dousing flames in some fire pits, it’s not the ideal solution for fire pits made of metal. Fortunately, there are other ways to safely put out fires, as discussed in this article. Read on to learn more about safely putting out fires with water as well as other effective methods.
Extinguishing Flames in a Fire Pit Using Water
Using a Hose To Put Out a Fire Pit
Hoses are ideal when using water to put out fires in a fire pit. They provide a regular supply of water, eliminating the need for running back and forth to refill a bucket.
When using a hose to douse the flames in a fire pit, use a spray nozzle attached to the hose, preferably one with a shower-spray setting. This sends out a gentle, steady stream of water over the fire and embers.
I recommend the FANHAQ Garden Hose Nozzle, available on Amazon. This metal garden hose attachment has seven settings, including a shower spray to safely put out a fire. It also comes with a money-back guarantee.
Direct streams and jet settings aren’t recommended. They’re too aggressive and can cause heated material to fly out of the fire pit, potentially spreading hot ash or embers to the surrounding area.
Using a Bucket To Put Out a Fire Pit
Sometimes hoses aren’t a viable option. Whether you’re camping in the middle of nowhere or simply don’t have a hose on hand, using a bucket may be the only feasible option for dousing the flames.
Buckets of water are effective, but dumping water quickly and directly over a fire can lead to injury if you’re not careful. It can splash hot water and ash nearby and cause steam to rise rapidly, so it’s critical that you take special care to let the fire burn down first. Also, don’t stand too close when pouring water over the fire pit.
How To Put Out a Fire with Water
This section discusses the best ways to extinguish the flames in a fire pit using a hose or buckets to ensure you stay safe and completely eliminate all burning embers.
1. Stop Fueling the Fire an Hour Before Dousing the Flames
At least an hour before you intend to put out the fire, stop adding logs or other fuel to the fire pit. This provides adequate time to allow the fire to burn down, making it easier and safer to douse the fire once you’re ready. The goal is to let the flames die down as much as possible, leaving only small flames and embers.
2. Spread Out the Fire Logs
Use a fire poker, stick, or shovel to spread out any logs left in the fire pit. If you’re using commercial sawdust-based logs (i.e., Duraflame Fire Logs, Enviro-Log, Pine Mountain Fire Logs, etc.), push these to the side and cover them with ash. This will cut off the oxygen supply and stop them from burning. Since these artificial logs are made from sawdust, cellulose, and waxes, they ignite easier than standard wood, so it’s crucial to extinguish them first.
Once you’ve put out any commercial fire logs, use your fire poker, stick, or shovel to move all additional logs away from one another. Do your best to prevent logs from touching to allow them to burn down more quickly.
3. Clear Away Ash
Speed up the burning process by removing excess ash using a fire pit shovel.
I recommend the AMAGABELI 26” Fireplace Shovel for Ash, available on Amazon. The long handle makes it perfect for shoveling hot ash from a fire pit, and the angled head makes removal easier.
Practice extreme caution when moving ash. Don’t be hasty; work slowly, so you don’t accidentally knock burning embers out of the fire pit.
Although removing ash allows for better oxygen flow which keeps the fire burning down, patience is still warranted. To maintain safety, the fire needs at least thirty minutes to burn down before pouring water over the fire pit.
4. Put Out the Fire With Water
Once the fire has burned down to only a few small flames and embers, you can douse the fire using buckets of water or a garden hose.
- Garden Hose – Set your spray nozzle to the shower setting; do not use a jet. Gently spray the water in a sweeping motion while standing back to avoid steam. Continue showering the fire pit with water until any sizzling ceases. Ensure that all ash is covered with water, even if it doesn’t appear red hot.
- Bucket – Have two full buckets of water on hand when using this method to prevent running back and forth. Slowly pour the water over the fire to douse the embers and flames. Keep your head away from the top of the fire pit to avoid inhaling any steam. Do not throw the bucket onto the fire. Repeat the process with the second bucket if needed to soak all ash and stop any sizzling.
5. Ensure That Everything Is Soaked
Use a stick, shovel, or fire poker to stir the wet ash in the fire pit. This extra precaution allows you to ensure that all embers are completely extinguished, and nothing is left burning. If you continue to see steam or hear sizzling, crackling, or notice other signs of continued burning, add more water.
6. Check For Signs of Heat
Before leaving the fire pit unattended, check for signs of heat.
Here are three ways to make sure the fire is completely extinguished:
- Feel for heat. Hover the back of your hand about 8 inches above the fire pit and sweep it over the area, checking for heat. If you feel any hot spots, add more water until everything is completely cool.
- Listen for sizzling, crackling, or sputtering. If you hear any of these sounds, the fire is still burning somewhere. Pour more water over the fire pit until all sounds cease.
- Look for steam, smoke, or glowing embers. Steam and/or smoke are indicative of heat, and glowing embers mean the fire hasn’t been put out completely. If you see these signs, continue using water to wet the fire pit until all steam and smoke stop and all embers are extinguished.
Additionally, you should give the area surrounding the firepit a quick once-over to ensure that no escaped embers are left burning.
Important Considerations for Metal Fire Pits
When using a metal fire pit, you shouldn’t use water to extinguish the fire. The temper can easily become weakened by shock associated with sudden exposure to extreme temperature changes. This can lead to warping and cracking. Exposure to water may also void the warranty on your fire pit.
More Effective Ways To Put Out Fires
If water isn’t an option for putting out a fire in your fire pit, there are other methods you can use.
Pour Dirt on the Fire
Dry dirt or sand can deprive a fire of oxygen, effectively smothering it. Use a shovel to gently pour dirt or sand over the hot embers. Next, stir everything around to ensure all embers are completely extinguished.
This is the best option for putting out fires in metal fire pits or extinguishing fires when water isn’t readily available.
Use a Snuffer in Hardscape Pits
Snuffers are lid-like devices that you place on top of a fire pit to completely deprive the fire of oxygen to smother it. These are effective on permanent hardscape fire pits but don’t work on traditional portable fire pits, as they have additional holes where oxygen can enter.
Some hardscape fire pits and fire bowls come with snuffers, but most require you to purchase one separately. If you’re buying a snuffer, check the brand that makes your fire pit to see if they offer one for your particular model. If not, ensure you’re purchasing one with the proper dimensions to fit over your fire pit.
Allowing a fire pit to burn down on its own is the easiest way to put out a fire, but it’s also extremely dangerous. Even the tiniest embers left burning can cause a catastrophic wildfire, especially during dry or windy conditions. The best way to ensure a fire is completely extinguished is by using water to douse the embers. When water isn’t an option, dirt is the next best thing for smothering the flames, followed by snuffers for hardscape fire pits.