Fire pits have become a favorite backyard feature for many reasons. They provide a center of activity for family and guests where you can cook over them or just sit and talk. They can be used for summer fun or winter warmth, which helps you enjoy the backyard longer into the winter season.
Yet, fire pits have their risks because of the heat they produce. How hot does a fire pit get? That depends on the type of fire pit you have and the type of fuel used. Metal fire pits can easily climb to 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wood pits burn hotter than gas and both produce more heat than a gel used in a fire pit. Gas and gels can produce anywhere from 1,000 BTUs to 70,000 BTUs.
Many types of fire pits are available for purchase and to build DIY. There are chimney versions, which are smaller and produce little heat but make for a nice focal point for gatherings. Stone fire pits are easy to build and practical for a permanent structure. Metal fire pits are practical.
People will find or build a fire pit that has a metal bowl with masonry around it. Outdoor fireplaces are also popular and serve the same purpose as a fire pit. Any permanent fire pit will increase both the value and marketability of your home.
The size, shape, and structure of your fire pit will play a role in how hot they burn.
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Fire needs three things to burn. It needs oxygen, fuel, and heat. The combination is why wood always burns hotter than other fuels and can reach up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wood doesn’t need that much oxygen for it to burn. It only needs about 15 percent. Air surrounding a firepit has 21 percent so wood burns well. It is the hottest fuel available for a fire pit.
Wood can produce up to 100,000 BTUs. How hot it gets depends on the size and type of the fire bowl and the type of wood used. Metal fire bowls are going to burn hotter. Some woods burn hotter and faster than other types.
Hardwoods, like oak, birch, and maple, are going to burn hotter and longer than other woods. Woods must be seasoned to burn well, meaning it needs to sit at least six months after cutting so moisture dries out.
Circulating air will also affect how hot your wood fire gets in a fire pit. This is where fire pit location is important.
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Other Types of Fuel
Different types of chemicals burn differently in fire pits. Some are going to burn hotter than others and some are going to be more easily controlled than others.
Besides wood, propane gas fire pits are some of the most popular. The propane comes in a portable tank that can be refilled. These pits are easier to start than wood pits and are much easier to control.
A gas fire pit isn’t going to burn as hot as wood. The smaller versions are going to burn at 10,000 BTUs while larger versions are going to rise to 70,000 BTUs. While there is no temperature equivalent to that, it is by all standards pretty hot. The average home propane pit produces 30,000 BTUs.
Some homeowners install natural gas fire pits. These are permanent structures as they are connected to a gas line that must be laid underground. Natural gas is cheaper than propane and always reliable. However, it doesn’t burn as hot as propane. Natural gas produces around 1,000 BTUs.
Some gas fire pits can produce heat and flame with bioethanol but these are the least effective fire pits. Bioethanol produces between 1,000 and 4,000 BTUs which won’t keep you warm on a chilly night outdoors.
You can buy alcohol gel fuel cans. They are a combination of water, isopropyl alcohol, binders, and salt. They can last up to three hours with most brands although some will last longer and will get up to 3,000 BTUs.
There is also the option of liquid ethanol. This is pure alcohol. While it can produce up to 5,000 BTUs of heat and burn about five hours, it takes around 15 minutes to produce heat.
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How to Know When It’s Hot?
Most wood produces yellow and orange flames and began to crackle as they blaze. You may see some blues in the fire whether you use wood or some other fuel. That is the hottest part of the fire.
A gas fire pit producing regular blue flames means there could be a clog. A fire should be turned off and the line checked.
Any fire pit can have its share of risks. Some standard safety measures are encouraged no matter what type of fire pit you install.
Always put a fire pit away from structures and the house. The standard rule is to place it at least 10 feet away. Another precaution is to keep it from porches and low-hanging trees too.
Have a fire extinguisher, a bucket of sand, and a garden hose handy just in case you have to act quickly.
It’s best to use a fire screen over your fire pit. This keeps smaller children and pets away from the hottest part of the blaze.
Keep the walls of the fire pit lower. Make sure they are less than two feet high. This will prevent people from piling the pit high with wood to build a large fire.
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Get a Fire Dome
A fire dome is a metal cover that you place on the pit after extinguishing the fire. This prevents embers from escaping the pit and catching grass or other items on fire while you aren’t attending the fire pit.
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When is the weather too bad to use a fire pit?
There are certain times of the year when the weather makes using a fire pit impractical. Most experts say weather that is above 90 degrees or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit is too extreme to be hanging around a firepit.
Another weather condition to avoid is wind. Higher winds add risk to a fire pit because they can blow flames and embers where they shouldn’t go.
Is 50,000 BTU hot?
Yes, 50,000 BTU is extremely hot and typically is the type of heat produced by a high heat table rather than a fire pit.
What is a good BTU for an outdoor fire pit?
A single candle produces 1 BTU. A patio heater produces around 40,000 BTUs so you can use that for reference. A typical residential fire pit will produce around 90,0000 BTUs.
Can you use a gas fire pit to roast marshmallows?
Yes, gas fire pits can be used to roast marshmallows are cooked any other type of food. Many outdoor grills run off propane gas. Cooking with a propane fire pit is no different.
Does rain ruin a gas fire pit?
No, rain doesn’t have much impact on a gas fire pit. The one effect it could have is that moisture builds up inside the pit and that can interfere with the gas burners. This may cause them to rust or not ignite when you try to light them.