A fire pit turns your garden or patio into a 24-hour, 365-day fun place to hang out. It provides plenty of warmth in the colder evening hours and during the nippy autumn and winter months.
It also adds a beautiful touch to your garden and provides a warm focal point for conversations with friends and family.
A good fire pit should be well built, beautifully designed and practical without costing you a lot of money.
In this buying guide, I review the best fire pits you can buy online and give you some tips on how to choose the right fire pit for your garden or patio.
What To Consider When Choosing A Fire Pit
The best fire pits are made from either steel or cast iron. These are the best materials for durability. They are also resistant to high temperatures.
Avoid fire pits made from thin sheets of aluminium or some other material. They’ll warp or dent easily.
The larger the area you want to cover, the larger the pit should be. If it’s a small patio, a small fire pit will give off enough heat to keep everyone warm.
If you want to use it for your garden, get something bigger that can hold more wood or charcoal for added warmth.
The right size also depends on what kind of fuel you plan to use. A small fire pit can hold a lot of charcoal. But if you plan to put logs in the fire pit, get one that’s large enough to fit sizeable logs from your log store.
Also keep portability in mind when considering what size of pit to get. More on this below.
A garden or patio fire pit is meant to be moved around. If it’s too heavy, you’ll not be able to move it on your own.
You won’t find a feather-light pit anywhere. The cast iron or steel construction of most fire pits makes them naturally hefty.
But you can still find a reasonably light fire pit you can lift and move on your own (around 15kg or less). You may need to settle for a smaller fire pit to keep weight down.
Of course, if you have someone to help you move it, weight is not important.
Portability is even more essential if you are looking for a pit you can take with you when camping. The best camping fire pits are smaller, lighter (around 5kg), have foldable legs and come with a carry bag.
d) Can You Grill On It?
Next, consider the versatility of the pit. Is it just for warmth or can you also use it to cook and grill.
The choice depends on your needs. If you never grill or already have an outdoor grill, you can get a pit designed just for warmth.
But if you think you might love to grill some meat, corn or burgers, get a dual-purpose pit with a grill rack.
A well designed fire pit should keep your logs or coals burning for hours. This requires good airflow under and around the wood or charcoal.
Check that the pit has enough holes at the bottom to allow air through. Some pits have a raised bed that creates better airflow beneath the wood.
f) Spark Screen
We highly recommend getting a fire pit with a spark screen, also called a fire screen. It’s domed mesh cover that goes over the top of the fire pit to keep sparks from flying out when the fire is burning.
A spark screen is especially important if you plan to use the pit in a wood-floored patio (prevents a fire hazard from the sparks). It’s also a good safety measure if your lawn has dry grass or bushes that can easily catch fire.
A fire pit is not just for warmth and cooking. You can also use it as a decorative centrepiece for your garden or patio.
Most fire pits have a traditional or vintage design, with a curved fire bowl and ornately designed feet. Some go as far as adding a distressed finish to complete the look.
The best design depends on your tastes.
How To Use A Fire Pit
Here are some helpful tips for using a fire pit.
Avoid putting it near anything that can catch fire such as an upholstered chair or near a dry bush.
The best place to place a fire pit is on flat and non-combustible surface such as pavement, bricks or gravel.
If you are using it in your garden, prepare a level surface with gravel or paving stones and clear sticks, leaves and anything flammable from the surrounding area.
If your patio has a wooden floor, lay a fire protection mat on the floor then place the fire pit on it.
Wherever you put it, make sure the ground is flat. If the fire pit tips and falls, it could easily start a fire.
Most fire pits work with charcoal, coal or wood. Choose fuel that burns for long and produces little smoke.
It’s easy to find slow-burning and low-smoke charcoal, wood briquettes or logs online or at a local store.
If you are using your own wood, make sure it is dry. Moisture in wood makes it harder to start a fire and causes a lot of smoke.
iii. Starting A Fire
You can start a fire using dry kindling from your garden, dry grass or even a newspaper.
Place the kindling at the bottom first and then place the logs or coals above, making sure to leave space for you to light the kindling and for air to flow.
Make sure not to place the wood higher than the fire bowl.
When you first light the fire pit and the coals or logs start burning, there may be a lot of embers and some smoke.
But as the roaring fire slows down to a glow, it’ll produce fewer sparks and smoke. Occasionally add more charcoal or wood to keep the fire burning.
iv. Safety Tips
- Place a bucket of water or sand nearby in case you need to quickly put out the fire.
- Keeps kids and pets away from the fire pit. Most patio or garden fire pits have no insulation of any kind. So the bowl is going to get very hot.
- Put out the fire before you go. Even if it has burned down to ashes, pour water on it to extinguish any burning embers.
The Best Fire Pit Reviews
1. Gardeco Elidir Cast Iron Fire Pit, D45cm x H47.5 cm
If you are looking for a cast iron fire pit that also doubles up as a BBQ grill, we recommend this one.
It’s thick and sturdy with cast iron legs to keep it stable.
Though not as wide as other fire puts, the Gardeco Elidir fire pit is deep. This makes it suitable for large fires.
You can use it with coal, charcoal, wood briquettes or logs. There are small holes at the bottom to provide ventilation for the fire.
The Gardeco Elidir fire pit comes with a grill rack that you can take off when you are not grilling.
But it doesn’t come with a spark screen and as far as we can tell, the manufacturer doesn’t offer it as an accessory. Be careful where you place it. Keep it away from dry bushes and grass to ensure flying sparks don’t start a fire.
You can use it in your garden, on your deck or on your patio. If you have to use it on a wooden floor, use a heat protection mat to shield the floor from sparks and heat.
As for aesthetics, the Gardeco Elidir fire pit has a beautiful vintage style. It features a distressed bronze finish.
What I like about it:
- Sturdy and durable cast iron construction.
- Doubles up as a grill.
- Ideal for large fires.
- 5-year warranty.
2. VonHaus Geo Fire Pit Bowl, D66.5cm x H64.5cm
If you already have a grill or don’t do any outdoor grilling, we recommend the VonHaus Geo Fire Pit Bowl. It’s designed only for warmth.
It has a deep bowl design, allowing you to put in a lot of fuel for a large and long-burning fire. You can sue logs, charcoal or briquettes.
The sides are vented to provide adequate airflow to the fire and allow even heat distribution around the fire pit.
It comes with a mesh spark screen to keep sparks within the bowl and a metal poker you can use to stir the coals or logs.
The fire pit is made from steel. Both the bowl and the legs are thick, sturdy and durable. It’s most likely the only fire pit you’ll ever need to buy.
One downside of the heavy-duty construction is that it’s heavy (around 9.5kg), but not too heavy that you can’t move it over short distances on your own.
The VonHaus Geo Fire Pit Bowl has the same distressed bronze finish as the Gardeco Elidir fire pit. It looks great in any garden or patio.
What I like about it:
- Deep and wide – perfect for large fires.
- Produces heat from all sides.
- Beautiful finish.
- Comes with spark guard and poker.
- Sturdy and durable steel construction.
3. AmazonBasics Portable Folding Fire Pit, D66cm x H45cm
The AmazonBasics Portable Folding Fire Pit is our top recommendation for those looking for a lighter, more portable fire pit.
It’s especially useful for picnics and camping trips.
This is a 2-in-1 fire pit: you can use it just for warmth or cooking. It comes with two grates for each use.
The log grate sits lower in the bowl. It leaves some space under it to allow airflow under the coals or wood.
The cooking grate sits much higher near the top of the bowl. This is where you place your burgers, corn and other foods for grilling.
A handy swing door on the cooking grate lets you add more fuel to the bowl without removing the cooking grill.
The bowl also comes with a mesh spark screen.
For portability, the fire pit has foldable legs. When folded, the bowl fits neatly into the included carrying bag.
It is made from steel so you can be sure it’ll last a long time.
What I like about it:
- Portable – it’s foldable and weighs 5.3kg.
- Ideal for warmth and grilling.
- Thoughtfully designed cooking grill.
- Sturdy and durable steel construction.
4. HH Home Hut Large Folding Fire Pit, D52cm x H40cm
The HH Home Hut fire pit is another good choice if you are looking for a portable fire pit.
It weighs about 5kg, similar to the AmazonBasics portable product. It also comes with foldable legs and a carrying bag. You can carry it with you to picnics and camping trips.
You can use it as a source of warmth or to grill foods. It has a charcoal grate where you place coal, briquettes or small logs and a higher cooking grill where you do the actual cooking.
When you are not grilling, you can remove the cooking grill.
The HH Home Hut fire pit is made from steel. It can take the heat without warping or denting. The paint finish makes it highly resistant to corrosion.
What I like about it:
- Portable – perfect for camping and picnics.
- Ideal for cooking and warmth.
- Comes with a mesh spark cover and poker.
- Affordably priced.
5. INTEY Large Fire Pit, D58cm x H30cm
If you love the portable design of the AmazonBasics and HH Home fire pits but don’t need the grilling function, get this one.
It’s smaller and lighter than the above two fire pits, making it perfect for small gardens and patios as well as camping and picnics.
Of course, if you need to, you can always get a grilling rack and put it on top of the bowl. So while it’s designed mostly for warmth, you can easily turn it into a BBQ grill.
The bowl sits on short tripod legs, give it extra stability on all types of grounds. You can use it on grass, snow, earth or tiles. You can even use it at the beach.
You’ll need to attach the legs to the bowl but it’s a 5-minute process. The detachable design is actually great for portability. With the legs removed, the fire put takes up less space in the car.
One thing you’ll appreciate about the INTEY fire pit is how low it sits close to the ground. The bowl is about 30cm from the ground compared to 40cm or higher for other fire pits.
This low-set design makes for excellent heat distribution around a seated group.
What I like about it:
- Very portable – detachable legs and weighs 3.5kg.
- Good heat distribution.
- Made from durable cast iron.
- Easy to assemble.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to light a fire pit?
- Start out with some dry paper at the bottom of your fire pit. Add a layer or two of kindling on top of the paper – you can use the kindling to create a “wigwam” shape or layer the pieces crossways over each other.
- Take a long match or the lit end of a twisted up piece of paper, and light the paper underneath the kindling. Flames should start to burn the kindling as well as the paper pretty quickly.
- Add another handful or two (or three, depending on the size of your fire pit) of kindling until the fire is well established.
- Add a larger log on top, then another, and wait until the embers are very hot before adding any more.
- Once the embers are glowing and the fire is burning merrily, add as many logs as it needs to keep it burning freely.
- Once the embers are glowing and the fire is ell established, you should only need to add another log when the flames die down and it looks like the fire is giving up the ghost. Of course, if you want a proper bonfire then carry on adding logs as and when!
What to burn in fire pit?
Because a fire pit is more open than a chiminea, and more outdoors than a wood burner, you can pretty much burn anything on it. This being said, there are certain things that will burn better on a fire pit than others!
- Old newspapers and cardboard. If you re having a clear out of paperwork, your fire pit will happily accept these things and dispose of them for you.
- Twigs, cuttings and prunings from the garden. You can burn your garden waste inn your fire it quite happily; just make sure that you give them a while to dry out unless you want to be choked with smoke.
- Dry, seasoned logs. This is the dream for any fire. Feed them this, and they will reward you with clean, efficient heat and good flames.
How close can a fire pit be to house?
You want your fire pit to be far enough away from the house that the flames don’t damage your house – bear in mind that they can burn very strongly, and surprisingly fast.
10 feet is the minimum distance you want your fire pit to be from your house. This is the minimum; further way is better if you have the space, just in case the flames go wayward or there is a strong wind.
You must also ensure that your fire pit is far away from overhanging trees, washing lines, children’s play houses, electrical cables and sheds. Also don’t place it on a decking or any other surface that might end up being flammable.