A fire pit is an essential component of an attractive patio or outdoor living space. It serves as a focal point while offering a container in which you can build fires. Whether it’s spring, summer, fall or winter, you’ll probably spend more time outdoors if you have a fire pit. To get the most use out of your fire pit, though, you should consider the seven following tips.

#1) Use Sand to Protect the Bottom From Extreme Heat

If you’re worried that the bottom of your fire pit will sustain heat-related damage, add a thin layer of sand to it. Sand acts as an insulator, reducing the amount of heat to which the bottom of your fire pit is exposed. For additional protection, you can add a layer of lava rocks over the sand. After adding the sand and lava rocks, you can build fires in your fire pit using kiln dried firewood.

Keep in mind that neither sand nor lava rocks will protect your fire pit from rusting or corrosion. To protect your fire pit from rusting and corrosion, you must keep it dry. When moisture accumulates on the metal surface of a fire pit, oxidation will occur, which results in the metal rusting or corroding. As long as you keep your fire pit dry, however, it shouldn’t rust or corrode.

#2) Add a Grill Grate to Cook Using Your Fire Pit

You can use your fire pit to grill hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken and other foods by adding a grill grate to it. Consisting of either cast iron or steel, a grill grate will convert your fire pit into a fully functional grill. As shown below, you simply place the grill grate directly over the top of your fire pit. Once in place, you can add meats, veggies or other foods to it. The grill grate will absorb heat from the fire, allowing your grill delicious foods at the appropriate temperature.

While grill grates are available in both cast iron and steel, most people prefer the former type. When compared to steel grill grates, cast iron grill grates retain more heat, are easier to clean, and they typically last longer. The only downside to cast iron grill grates is that they cost more than steel grill grates. But since they also last longer than steel grill grates, most people will agree that they are a smart investment.

#3) Burn Sage Bundles to Deter Mosquitoes

Don’t let mosquitoes prevent you from enjoying your patio or outdoor living space. It’s frustrating when you’re trying to relax and lounge outdoors, only to be constantly attacked by these blood-sucking pests. While small in size, mosquitoes are a serious nuisance. But the good news is that you can keep mosquitoes away by burning sage bundles in your fire pit.

Sage plants emit a unique aroma when burned that most people love but mosquitoes hate. After building a hot fire in your fire pit, toss a bundle or two of sage in it. It will fill your patio or outdoor living space with a pleasant, fragrant aroma. At the same time, the burning sage will act as a natural mosquito repellent. Granted, smoke in general deters most insects, including mosquitoes, but sage smoke is particularly effective at keeping these blood-sucking pests away.

#4) Use Kiln Dried Firewood for Long-Lasting Fires

You can spend more time lounging around your fire pit and less time collecting and adding firewood by choosing kiln dried firewood. Kiln dried firewood burns cleaner and longer than other types of firewood because of its exceptionally low moisture content. The kiln dried firewood sold here at Cutting Edge Firewood, for example, has been dried for 12 times longer than the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) kiln drying standard. With its low moisture content, it burns longer while producing less byproduct emissions in the process.

#5) Protect Your Patio With a Fire Pit Mat

When using your fire pit on a patio, deck or any other wooden surface, it’s recommended that you use a fire pit mat. What is a fire pit mat exactly? As the name suggests, it’s a fire-resistant mat that’s designed to protect the underlying flooring or surface on which a fire pit is placed.

If you place your fire pit directly on your patio, the heat from the fire may scorch and single the underlying flooring. Granted, your patio flooring probably won’t catch fire. Rather, it will likely develop black marks where the wooden planks are scorched from the heat. A fire pit mat can protect your patio from such damage, however, by acting as a layer of insulation. Its heat-resistant properties will minimize the amount of heat to which your patio is exposed, thereby minimizing the risk of heat-related damage to your patio.

#6) Light Your Fire Pit From the Bottom Center

The secret to lighting a fire pit is to place your match in the bottom center of the wood. Going back to the basics of chemistry, heat rises. Therefore, if you place a match on top of the wood, you’ll struggle to light it. You must place the light in the bottom center of the wood so that the heat will rise and ignite the rest of the wood.

If you’re struggling to light your fire pit, don’t use lighter fluid or other accelerants. Although it may sound like an easy and effective way to start your fire pit, it’s not necessary — and using lighter fluid or other accelerants will only increase the risk of bodily injury and property injury. To light your fire pit, place a match in the bottom center of the wood with a small amount of tinder and kindling. Assuming you use kiln dried firewood and not fresh or air dried firewood, you should be able to easily light your fire pit using nothing more than a match with some tinder and kindling.

#7) Save the Ashes

Rather than discarding your fire pit’s ashes in the trash, consider saving them. Firewood ash has dozens of practical uses, some of which may surprise you. During the winter, for example, you can sprinkle ash on your driveway and sidewalk to melt snow and ice. This is because wood ash contains potassium salts, which acts as a natural de-icing agent. Unlike other de-icing agents, though, wood ash is safe and environmentally friendly.

In addition to melting snow and ice, you can use ash as plant fertilizer. If you have a garden or flowerbed, try sprinkling some leftover ash in it. Wood ash contains essential nutrients, including potassium, that plants need to grow and stay healthy. Furthermore, wood ash can improve the pH level of soil that’s too alkaline.

You can even use leftover ash to keep pests out your garden or flowerbed. Common pests like snails and slugs will actively avoid ash. Therefore, sprinkling a ring of ash around your garden or flowerbed will protect your plants from these and other common pests. These are just a few common uses for wood ash. There are literally dozens of ways to use leftover ash.

Upgrade your patio or outdoor living space with a premium S&S Fire Pit today. We offer a variety of high-quality fire pits, with sizes ranging from 30 inches to 42 inches in diameter.