What Is An Outdoor Fire Pit? Do I Need One? What’s The Purpose?

Beautiful outdoor patio of a luxury home with a fire pit and pergola

Looking for a way to spruce up your property while adding some social enjoyment? A friend of mine suggested that I add an outdoor fire pit. Being the overeducated idiot that I am, I immediately went home and Googled “What is an outdoor fire pit” so that I fully understood all aspects. This article will share what I have learned. 

Outdoor fire pits on a property are a wonderful way to spruce up the atmosphere of your backyard while also providing a venue for some good old-fashioned conversation and food.


You should be able to buy or build one that not only satisfies your functional requirements but also your aesthetic preferences because they are available in such a wide variety of shapes and sizes. 

This variety should also make it possible for you to find one that is suitable for your budget.

Let’s go over the various types of outdoor fire pit ideas that are currently available on the market, how to choose the model that is best suited for your requirements, and the considerations that ought to be made prior to making a purchase of one of these pits. 

Outdoor fire pits have a multitude of uses, appearance and fuel sources. Consider what you want the fire pit to bring to your life and review the choices that fit your needs. Fire pits provide warmth, light, and a pleasing atmosphere to spur on social conversation. Whether you buy one or build one, there is an outdoor fire pit just for you!

What Is An Outdoor Fire Pit?

An outdoor fire pit is a great addition to any gathering. Not only do they provide heat and light, but they also create a focal point for socializing and relaxing. There are many different types of outdoor fire pits available on the market, so it is important to do your research before making a purchase or building your own.

Social Warmth & Ambiance

A fire pit often serves as a gathering place for friends and family. Conversations engage while actively roasting marshmallows, cooking hot dogs or even just to enjoying the ambiance of a flickering fire. The pit becomes the center podium, if you will, for everyone to gather around and share stories. 

Another popular use for a fire pit is as a source of warmth. If you are having a party or gathering outside in the cooler months, a fire pit can provide a source of heat to keep everyone comfortable. Grab some chairs and soft blankets and there is no better environment for group conversation than the crisp, cool air of the outdoors aided by the gentle heat of a well-fed fire pit. 

A fire pit can also be used as a source of light. If you are having an outdoor event in the evening, a fire pit can provide light so that everyone can see. It can provide ample lighting while you set up your campground tents and supplies. You may also want to use your fire pit to create a romantic ambiance for a night out with a loved one. 

Ah, crackling ember sounds!

view of an outdoor wood burning fire pit with father and son warming up their hands

I still remember cozying up by an outdoor fire pit at a posh restaurant in north Scottsdale, Arizona called Sandolo at the Hyatt Regency in Gainey Ranch. My fiancé, now wife of 24 years, and I enjoyed the warmth while waiting for our gondola ride in a nearby manmade waterway. A good outdoor fire pit can exist in the background yet be an anchoring part of a lifetime memory.

Location, Location, Location

When considering a location for your fire pit, be sure to select a spot that is at least 10 feet away from any buildings or other structures. You’ll also want to avoid putting your fire pit under any low-hanging branches or awnings. Once you’ve found the perfect spot, you can begin to set up your fire pit.

If you’re using a pre-made fire pit kit, simply follow the instructions that came with it. If you’re building your own fire pit from scratch, start by digging a hole that is about two feet wide and two feet deep. Next, line the hole with gravel and then stack bricks or stones around the perimeter to create the walls of your fire pit. Be sure to leave an opening in one of the walls so that you can easily access the fire.

Once your fire pit is built, you’re ready to start enjoying it! If you’re using it for warmth, simply build a small fire and enjoy the heat. If you’re looking to cook some food, build a larger fire and make sure there are no flames leaping out of the pit. You can then place a grill over the top of the pit and cook away. Just be sure to keep an eye on your food so that it doesn’t burn.

Types of Outdoor Fire Pits

There are many different types of outdoor fire pits! The most common type is a wood-burning fire pit. These typically have a metal bowl in the center where you build your fire. You can also find gas and propane fire pits. Gas and propane fire pits are convenient because you don’t have to worry about gathering wood and starting a fire. You simply turn on the gas or propane and light the pit. Alternatives also include fire pits that use a gel alcohol for fuel. 

Let’s review them!

a cast iron fire pit at a campsite with a bright burning flame and a guy relaxing behind it

Wood Burning

The most common type of outdoor fire pit is a wood-burning pit. These pits are generally made from metal or stone and have a grate in the center for holding wood. They may also have a screen or cover to keep sparks and embers from escaping. 

A wood burning fire pit works by using a grate to hold the wood in place while it burns. The grate also allows for air to flow around the wood, which is necessary for the fire to stay lit. Most grates are made of metal and have gaps between the bars so that air can circulate.

The wood that you use in your fire pit should be dry and seasoned so that it burns more easily. If you don’t have time to ability to gather wood naturally, you can find this type of wood at your local hardware store or online. Once you have your wood, you will need to build a small teepee out of it so that it catches fire easily.

Flame on!

To start the fire, you will need to light a piece of paper or kindling and place it underneath the teepee. Once the paper starts to burn, the flames will begin to spread to the rest of the wood. You may need to add more logs to keep the fire going but be sure not to overload the pit so that the flames don’t get too high.


A gas fire pit is a type of fire pit that uses natural gas or propane as fuel. Gas fire pits are becoming increasingly popular because they are easy to use and can be placed almost anywhere in your yard or patio. One of the best things about gas fire pits is that you don’t have to deal with the smoke, ashes, or soot that come with traditional wood-burning fire pits. 

If you’re thinking about getting a gas fire pit, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, you’ll need to choose the right location for your gas fire pit. It’s important to place your gas fire pit on a level surface that is at least 10 feet away from any structures or trees. You’ll also need to make sure there is a gas line nearby so that you can hook up your fire pit. Otherwise, use of portable tanks is required. 

Once you’ve chosen the perfect spot for your gas fire pit, it’s time to pick out the perfect one for you! Gas fire pits come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. You’ll want to choose one that fits the overall look and feel of your outdoor space. 


A gel fire pit is a type of fire pit that uses gel fuel instead of wood or gas. Gel fuel is made from a mix of ethanol and water, and it produces a flame that is like a real wood fire. Gel fire pits are becoming increasingly popular because they are easy to use and clean up. Plus, there is no smoke or ash produced from gel fuel, so it is a safer option than traditional fire pits.

If you’re looking for an easy way to enjoy a campfire without all the hassle, then a gel fire pit is the perfect solution. Gel fuel is easy to light and extinguish, so you can control your fire with ease. A cool tip for getting a “prettier” flame with a gel fire pit is to sprinkle some Epsom salt on top of the fire. Also, if you can’t find gel fuel for some reason, hand sanitizer works just as good. 

Covid made sure there’s plenty of that around these days. 

Here are some other benefits of using a gel fire pit:

  • Gel fuel is environmentally friendly and produces very little smoke or emissions.
  • Gel fires produce little to no ash, so there’s no need to worry about messy cleanup.
  • Gel fires are very efficient and will last for hours on end – perfect for long evenings outdoors!
  • Gel fuel is relatively inexpensive, so you can enjoy your gel fire pit without breaking the bank.

What Is The Main Purpose Of A Fire Pit?

Large concrete backyard patio with a roof and a lit fire pit in the center

A Fire Pit Can Serve Many Purposes

There are a lot of reasons why people might want to buy or build a fire pit. We’ve discussed entertaining guests, cooking food and yet others might use it as an addition to their backyard landscaping. Whatever the reason may be, understanding the main purpose of a fire pit can help make your decision easier.

A Fire Pit Can Be Used For Cooking

A fire pit can be used for cooking, but it is important to use it safely. The first thing to consider is the location of your fire pit. It is best to use your fire pit in an open area, away from any trees or other buildings. You will also want to make sure that the ground around your fire pit is clear of any debris.

Next, you will need to purchase a fire pit that is elevated off the ground. This will help to prevent any sparks from falling on you or your clothing. It is also important to purchase a fire pit that has a screen or cover. This will help to keep the embers contained within the fire pit.

Once you have your fire pit and location ready, you will need to gather some fuel to stoke the fire. If you are using wood, the best type to use for a fire pit is hardwood, such as oak or maple. You will want to avoid using softwoods, such as pine, as they can burn too quickly. Otherwise, get your propane turned on or gel fuel added. Once you have the fuel source ready to go, simply ignite the flame. 

Once the flames are going, you can begin cooking your food. Be sure to cook food evenly and avoid letting any fat drip down into the flames. If you do let fat drip into the flames, it could cause a large flare up and could potentially hurt someone.  Once your food is cooked, you can enjoy it with family and friends around the warmth of your fire pit!

A Fire Pit Can Be Used For Warmth

Speaking of warmth… fire pits are perfect for spending time outside during the winter months. Not only do they keep you warm, but they also provide a great backdrop for socializing and enjoying some good company.

Here are a few tips on how to use your fire pit to stay warm:

  • Build a large fire: This may seem obvious, but the bigger the fire, the more heat it will produce. So, if you’re looking to really stay warm, build a big fire!
  • Sit close to the fire: Again, this may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. The closer you are to the fire, the more heat you’ll feel. So, if you’re looking to get really warm, pull up a chair and sit as close to the fire as possible.
  • Wear warm clothing: This is especially important if you aren’t planning on sitting close to the fire. Wearing layers of warm clothing will help trap in heat and keep you comfortable.

If you’re planning on spending a chilly night outdoors, there’s nothing more comforting than cuddling up next to a warm fire. But if you’re not careful, your fire can burn out quickly, leaving you cold and miserable. 

Here are a few tips to help you keep your fire burning all night long.

First, make sure you have enough fuel. It’s important to use dry, seasoned wood so that your fire will burn evenly and slowly. If you’re using fresh logs, be sure to split them so that they’ll catch fire more easily. And don’t forget to keep some extra wood close by in case your fire starts to die down.

Next, build your fire correctly. Start by placing some large logs at the bottom of your pit, then add smaller logs on top. Use kindling to help get the fire going but be sure not to overload the pit or you’ll smother the flames. Once the fire is going strong, add a few more logs to keep it going through the night.

Finally, stoke the flames regularly. Every hour or so, poke around the logs with a stick to ensure that air is circulating, and the fire is still burning evenly. You may need to add more wood from time to time to keep the fire going, but if you do it right, you should be able to enjoy a warm fire all night long!

A Fire Pit Can Be Used For Light

Maybe you are hosting a beach party or setting up camp for a weekend outing with family and friends. A lack of accessible electricity means you could have a need for a good source of lighting. An outdoor fire pit can be used for light if you’re careful. 

Speaking of caution, you should never leave a fire unattended.  You should also make sure the area around the fire is clear of any flammable materials. If you’re using a gas-powered fire pit, be sure to turn off the gas before you start the fire. Once the fire is lit, you can adjust the size of the flame by opening or closing the vents. 

If you’re using a wood-burning fire pit, use the teepee building methods we discussed earlier out of kindling to get the fire started. Once the flames are high enough, you can add larger pieces of wood to keep the fire going.

A Fire Pit Can Be Used For A Gathering Place

You have a weekend free of any responsibilities. There’s a list of good friends who are ready, willing, and able to come spend the evening telling jokes and recanting old stories. You even have a local wholesale food club where you can buy ample food and drink for the event. 

All you need is a venue.

This is where the outdoor fire pit shines (pun intended.) One of the best things about Fall is the chance to gather around an outdoor fire pit and roast some marshmallows. It is a great tradition to use a fire pit to provide a place for people to gather around and enjoy the warmth of a fire together.

You want to make sure that the fire pit is big enough to accommodate the number of people who will be using it. Another thing to consider is the material that the fire pit is made from. Some materials will hold up better than others in different weather conditions.

Don’t forget the accessories like windproof matches, skewers, and ample chocolate bars for the marshmallows. I’ve heard those last two also go great on graham crackers! Outdoor fire pits will always be  a great way to bond with friends and family. There’s something about sitting around a fire that brings people together and encourages conversation.

Note: If you have young children or pets, there are a few special considerations to consider when using an outdoor fire pit. 

  • First, make sure that the fire pit is surrounded by a fence or other barrier that will prevent children or pets from getting too close. 
  • Second, never leave the fire unattended – even for a minute! 
  • Third, always keep a close eye on children and pets to make sure they don’t get too close to the fire. 
  • And fourth, have a bucket of water nearby in case of emergencies.

How Much Do Fire Pits Cost On Average?

The typical price of a fire pit can change significantly depending on the style and dimensions of the fire pit being purchased. A smaller fire pit that is portable might only set you back a few hundred dollars, but a larger fire pit that is permanently installed might set you back several thousand. 

The amount your fire pit costs may also be affected by the kind of fuel you use in it. For instance, fire pits that run on gas are typically sold for a higher price point than their wood-burning counterparts.

You can often save money by building the outdoor fire pit yourself. There are plenty of how-to videos on the internet and all supplies can be purchased at local hardware stores. 

Let’s Talk About Fire Pit Size

What Size Fire Pit Is Best For Wood Burning?

There is no definitive answer as to what size fire pit is best for wood burning. It really depends on a variety of factors, such as how often you plan on using the fire pit, what type of wood you’ll be burning, and how big your outdoor space is.

If you plan on using the fire pit regularly, then it’s probably worth investing in a larger one so that you can enjoy a more robust fire. If you’re only going to use it occasionally, then a smaller fire pit will suffice.

The type of fuel you burn also plays a role in determining the ideal size of your fire pit. If you’re planning on burning hardwood, then you’ll need a larger fire pit so that the logs have enough room to properly burn. However, if you’re only going to be burning softwood or kindling, then a smaller fire pit will do just fine. Gas and gel fire pits can be considerably smaller. 

What Size Fire Pit Is Best For Gas?

There is no incorrect answer to this question as the best size for a gas fire pit will depend on a number of factors. However, I can give you some general guidelines to help you choose the right size for your needs.

The first thing you need to consider is how much space you have available. If you have a large outdoor space, then you will be able to accommodate a bigger fire pit. However, if you have a smaller space like a back patio, then a smaller set up will be just fine.

Another important factor to consider is how many people you want to be able to seat around the fire pit. If you plan on entertaining large groups of people, then you will need a larger fire pit so that everyone can enjoy the warmth and ambiance of the flames. Again, if you only plan on using the fire pit for intimate gatherings, then a smaller fire pit will suffice.

Finally, you need to think about the gas fuel you are using. Gas fire pits can run on either natural gas or propane. If you already have a natural gas line installed in your home, then using a gas fire pit that is close to the house would be the most convenient option. However, if you don’t have a natural gas line, then using a propane-powered gas fire pit would be your best bet.

What Size Fire Pit Is Best For gel?

The best size fire pit for gel is a small fire pit. Gel fuel is made of alcohol and burns very hot, so you don’t need a large amount to get it started. A small fire pit will also be more efficient in terms of the amount of gel fuel that you use.

As an alternative to traditional fire pits, gel fuel fire pits are becoming increasingly popular due to their smokeless and odorless operation, very similar to the smokeless Breeo fire pits. For those with heightened sensitivity to odors or smoke, this may be an excellent choice. Gel fuel options for fire pits don’t produce as much heat as other types of fire pits.

How Long Do Fire Pits Last?

Fire pits can last for many years if they are properly cared for. The key to prolonging the life of your fire pit is to prevent it from rusting (if metal) or otherwise deteriorating. One way to do this is to keep it clean and free of debris. If you live in an area with a lot of rain or snow, you should also cover your fire pit when it’s not in use.

Another way to prevent rust on a metal is to apply a coat of paint or sealant to the fire pit. This will create a barrier between the metal and the elements, which will help to prolong its life. If you do notice any rust starting to form, you should sand it down and reapply the paint or sealant as soon as possible.

This is why I like stone and brick fire pits. They require much less (if any) maintenance and can even look better with more use. Black scorch marks running up the sides of the stones add character, and you never have to worry about rust. 

With proper care, your fire pit should last for many years. 

Is An Outdoor Fire Pit Safe To Have At A Residential Home?

Outdoor fire pits are a great addition to any home, but it’s important to be aware of the potential risks before you install one. Fire pits are usually made of metal or stone and can get very hot, so there is a risk of burns if you or someone else comes into contact with the surface. It’s also important to make sure the fire pit is properly ventilated so that smoke doesn’t build up and cause problems for people with respiratory conditions.

Another safety consideration is the location of the fire pit. It should be situated in an open area away from any structures that could catch fire if embers blew in their direction. It’s also important to keep the fire pit away from trees and other vegetation so that sparks don’t cause accidental fires.

If you follow these safety tips, an outdoor fire pit can be a great asset to your home. Just be sure to use common sense and take precautions to avoid accidents. As with everything else, watch your children and toddlers around the fires. 

Where Should You Never Put A Fire Pit?

You should never put a fire pit on the grass, in an enclosed space, or near any flammable materials. The best location for your fire pit would be in an open area – preferably on concrete or pavers, although NOT directly on them. You want to avoid putting your fire pit on dirt because when the wood ashes fall onto the ground, that’s where they will stay until they are washed away. 

If you were to put your fire pit on dirt, the ashes could easily spread and get into the grass. Fire pits should also be far enough away from trees so that your embers don’t end up falling onto any branches or leaves that could easily catch on fire.

Always conclude the use of an outdoor fire pit by thoroughly extinguishing the embers. Pour water, dirt or sand over the entire pit and make sure there is nothing left smoldering. This will cause a large plume of smoke but you don’t want to be liable for leaving an unattended fire. 


A fire pit in the backyard can serve many functions, including as a gathering spot for friends and family, as a place to do some outdoor cooking, or even just as a way to take in the fresh air and appreciate the natural surroundings while snuggling up close with a loved one. 

You can purchase an extensive variety of outdoor fire pits, each of which comes with a distinctive appearance, a different range of prices, and a different collection of features…or build your own. 

After determining which kind of fire pit is best suited to meet your requirements in the most efficient manner, the next step is to make certain that you install it in a manner that is compliant with all applicable safety regulations.

I hope my article about outdoor fire pits has helped you. Be sure to check out my other articles too. 

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