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Considering a Fire Pit? Here is what you should know

No longer will a wood deck with a grill do for many homeowners wanting to enjoy their backyards. These days, accessorizing means amenities like ponds, flower beds, vegetable gardens, outdoor kitchens and, increasingly, fire pits that crackle and glow.

Here’s what else to consider before planning a fire pit and dreaming of cool, moonlit nights with toasted marshmallows:

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Wood or Gas?

While there are alternate fuel types like gel fuels, wood or gas seem to be the most common choices. Those who favor a true outdoor smell usually prefer burning real logs.

Some fire pits use gas or propane for an instant fire — maybe even powered with a remote switch — though it’s not as hot as a wood fire and you don’t get the same crackle and smoke.

What to Set It On?

It’s best to set a portable fire pit atop a natural surface such as concrete, stone, gravel, brick or slate or on a fire-resistant composite. Putting it on a wood deck can be dangerous if embers fly.

Where is the Right Location for Your Fire Pit?

Many communities require a minimum of a 10-foot distance from your house and neighbors’ yards.

How to Create the Right Ambiance?

To enhance your enjoyment, consider installing outdoor lighting near the pit. Make it subtle to avoid destroying the camp-fire mood. Energy-efficient LEDs can be plugged into a nearby outlet without making it necessary for you to hire an electrician. ou may also want to consider seating: Maybe metal chairs in a classic Adirondack style, or a low stone wall that’s at least 18 inches high, 12 inches wide, and 2 feet from the pit for safety.

What Safety Tips Should I Keep in Mind?

A fire of any kind — no matter the size — demands serious attention to safety. The National Fire Protection Association and ReadyWV offer the following fire pit safety advice:

  • Check wind direction before you light a fire.
  • Don’t use flammable fluids (gasoline, lighter fluid, etc.) to light or relight fires.
  • Don’t wear flammable clothing (like nylon) or any loose-fitting clothing.
  • Avoid using soft woods like pine or cedar, because they can “pop” and throw sparks.
  • Make sure to keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from the fire.

It’s also important that you know how to safely dispose of the ashes when you’re done with the fire for the night.

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