how to maintain an outdoor fire pit

How to Maintain an Outdoor Fire Pit – 5 Safety Tips

Last Updated on February 24, 2023

Knowing how to maintain an outdoor fire pit is essential if you wish to continue to get the best out of your fire pit for some time to come. There is no doubt that a fire pit is a wonderful item to own and make use of, but it only works well when you know how to care for it correctly.

But there is more to fire pit maintenance than most people realise. Of course, we need to consider different fire pit safety tips, and how you maintain your fire pit can differ slightly depending on its construction. So, with that idea firmly in our mind, we should go through the key steps for maintaining fire pits in general before we get a bit more specific, depending on the fire bowl or pit that you own.

Why You Need to Maintain Your Fire Pit

You can use the fire bowl for longer than you anticipated if you properly maintain your fire pit, which will always improve its lifespan. So, no matter if you have a wood-burning fire pit, a cast iron fire pit, or even a steel fire pit, these are the key points you need to keep in mind when dealing with the maintenance aspect.

Tip 1: Have a Good Protective Fire Pit Cover

Our first recommendation is to make sure you always cover your fire pit properly when it’s not in use. Even though it’s made from metal, you don’t want to leave it open to the elements, as that will weaken the structure of the fire pit bowl over time. Eventually, your fire pit will become a safety hazard, and it will be time to throw it away.

Keep in mind that allowing rain to hit the metal will lead to things rusting. That is something you must avoid if you wish to preserve your fire bowl for as long as possible.

Tip 2: Clean It Out After Every Use

Another tip is to make sure you clean out your fire pit after every single time you use it. This is an area that people often overlook. Instead, they are of the opinion that it only has to be cleaned out every once in a while, but that’s wrong.

Instead, we strongly recommend you remove the ash and debris once your fire pit has cooled down. This doesn’t mean you need to give it a deep clean after every use. That would be a crazy thing to do, but removing the debris is the absolute minimum you should be doing. Regularly removing the wood ash and debris from your fire pit prevents a build-up from occurring, which will then be harder to remove in the future.

Tip 3: Be Careful How You Extinguish Things

When you have your fire pit burning away merrily, your mind will turn to how you are going to extinguish the flames. Now, while a fire extinguisher may sound like a good idea, it’s not what we recommend if you want to preserve and maintain your fire pit.

Instead, the best course of action is to allow things to die down naturally. That is easier to do when you have a gas fire pit as opposed to one burning wood, but it’s not impossible even when you have that second option.

Putting some cold water onto a fire pit burning away may sound good, but this sudden drop in the temperature increases the risk of the fire pit bowl cracking. If that happens, then you need a new fire pit.

Tip 4: Oiling It May Be Beneficial

This tip is more for people with a steel fire pit over any other type of metal, but oiling the fire pit every couple of months may be beneficial. These steel fire pits are prone to becoming rusted and stained, but oiling them will stop those problems in their tracks.

Also, oiling it will help to maintain its appearance. This type of fire pit looks best when it seems to be shiny and sparkling, and oiling it plays a major role in making sure it continues to look pristine.

Tip 5: Never Burn Plastic

If we are honest, it’s tempting to throw some paper or other items into the fire pit and allow them to burn, but please never throw in any type of plastic. Aside from the toxic fumes that will come from your fire pit, the plastic will tend to melt and simply stick onto the side or base of the bowl.

That molten plastic will then become a serious headache if you want to get it back off. It will require a lot of elbow grease and determination, but larger pieces of plastic could potentially ruin your fire pit.

But as we already discussed, cleaning your fire pit is one of the finest ways to preserve it. So, we can go through the best way to clean your fire pit, depending on the material.

Even though you may think it will work well, never use lighter fluid on your fire pit. It is exceptionally dangerous to do so.

A Steel or Copper Fire Pit

Either a steel or copper fire pit requires a specific form of cleaning if you want to have things looking clean and perfect.

First, you need to wait until the following day to ensure that wood ash and debris have cooled down completely. After that, remove it and dispose of it elsewhere. This should then leave you with an empty fire pit, which is then substantially easier to clean.

Next, you want to take a soft cloth and some soapy water. Use your damp cloth, and wipe the inside of the fire bowl. This should be easy to do if you actually remove ashes after every use. Only doing occasional cleaning will mean some of that ash will stick to the side of the bowl, at which point it becomes harder to remove it. Considering the relative delicacy of the material used, which means you don’t want to scratch it, you could be left with a fire pit that looks quite horrible.

After washing it, do make sure you rinse the fire pit with a garden hose to remove all of the soap. You must then always ensure the fire pit is completely dry. Leaving any moisture will only result in rust starting to form.

A Cast Iron Fire Pit

If you have a cast iron fire pit, then your approach to regular cleaning has to take on a different form. However, we still recommend waiting until the day after you have used your fire pit to clean it. Use an ash scoop and remove the debris from the inside to make it as empty as possible.

Once it is empty, use steel wool and some hot water to scrub the inside of the fire pit. You can be pretty rough with this, as the cast iron will be more challenging than you may expect. Once you have scrubbed it, rinse it clean with some fresh water and dry it.

Masonry Fire Pits

Large fireplace in the backyard

Whether you have a fire pit made from bricks or stone, how you clean the fire pits remains the same.

The first step is to remove the wood ash from the bowl on the following day. Ashes can remain hot for a substantial period, so leaving it to the next day is a safety issue.

Once emptied the bowl, scrub the inside down using warm soapy water and a wire brush. You want to scrub things to remove ash that is even lodged in between the bricks or stones. Once you have scrubbed it, you should then look at washing it all down with a hose to remove the soap. As it is masonry, you should then leave it to air dry before you cover anything up.

A Gas Fire Pit

If you are using gas to power your fire pit instead of burning wood, things do become slightly different. You need to take more care over the maintenance of this fire pit, and keeping the burners clean is a key component here.

With a gas fire pit, look for any debris that is even on the outside of it. You will want to lightly wipe residue down to keep it looking perfect and check for any blockages on the burners. This type of fire pit is low maintenance, so it may very well be the ideal solution for several people.

General Fire Pit Safety

The last thing to quickly consider is general fire pit safety, as this is not something you can ever overlook.

The key here is to ensure everyone can be at a safe distance from the fire pit at any given time. Remember: a fire pit will stay hot for a prolonged period, and embers in the wood will continue to burn and remain hot for longer than you realise.

In terms of position, you must also make sure you keep your fire pit away from anything that could potentially catch fire if there’s a rapid change in the wind direction and flames or ash leap from the fire pit. It is surprising how many people fail to keep it in the perfect location from a safety perspective and instead focus on where they think it is more convenient.

Teenage friends sit around a fireplace eating pizza

Finally, always make sure you have either a bucket of water, a hose, or some sand on hand at all times. This is to douse those flames or anything else that starts burning where you fear things may be going out of control. Hopefully, you will never need to use them, but having them on hand is essential. Also, never abandon it when using your fire pit.

Maintaining an Outdoor Fire Pit is Easy!

And that is how to maintain an outdoor fire pit: hopefully, it’s easier to do than you anticipated. The most important point of all is to ensure you do it in a safe manner.

If cared for correctly, you could use your fire pit no matter the year-round weather conditions. They can be an excellent way of still enjoying the outdoors on colder evenings, so look after them, and your fire pit will reward you for years to come.

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