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Bonfire Night and Fire pits

Posted on 1st November 2016

Autumn is well underway and the dark nights are creeping in but it doesn’t have to be the end of those evenings sat outdoors and enjoying the crisp evening air. Bonfire night is coming soon and we all love to stand and watch the flames, but it doesn’t need to be restricted to just one night.

When used safely, fire pits are a great way for friends and family to gather and keep warm for a winter BBQ or a hearty bowl of warming stew, or curry.

There are a vast range of options from DIY and self-build fire pits made from reclaimed materials that can cost very little to stylish bespoke options for a roaring wood fire and if the smoky atmosphere doesn’t appeal to you, you can even get clean, gas burning options for an easy smoke-free time.

Traditionally, a fire pit would simply be a circular pit or hollow dug down into the ground, maybe lined with stones to contain the fire and retain the heat, a simple fire pit like this can be created very easily and can be temporary. There are some safety considerations to reduce the risk of anyone tripping and falling onto a lit fire in the ground and you should not use this type of fire pit if your soil is peat due to the danger of the ground itself catching fire. Concrete materials shouldn’t be used here either.  Simply place chairs around the heat source and enjoy the open fire. They are great for cooking on too, you can hang a cooking pot or cauldron over the flames on a tripod or place a trivet over the edge where the flames are lower and the embers are forming and place your pot or griddle onto he trivet.

There are a wide range of metal fire bowls and fire baskets on the market and these are popular because they are portable, you can bring them onto the patio (not decking!!) when the autumn weather comes along and pack them away or move to other parts of the garden,  you can even pack them up with your camping gear and take them to your favourite campsite if the owners allow.

Gas fire pits are modern and clean and are usually topped with a suitable decorative aggregate with the flames appearing through. They work well in modern formal gardens and where there is not a good regular supply of cut wood.

If you have a wood burning pit then you will also need a place to store dry wood to season it and keep it in good condition for burning. Fresh and wet wood will be difficult to light, will burn slowly and give off lots of acrid smoke. The best woods to burn are sycamore, oak, hawthorn, ash and cherry and ideally they should be seasoned for several months before burning to get the best out of your flames. Poplar is not recommended, as the smoke is particularly acrid.

After each fire you will need to clean out the cold burnt material, tip the ash and partially burnt wood/charcoal onto your borders as it adds nutrients and helps to condition the soil.