How To Put Out A Fire Pit

We all love to gather around a fire on a chilly night. Those offering the opportunity for friends to gather around a wood-burning fire need to know how to put out a fire pit. How to put out a pit raises some differing opinions. There are several safe methods to put out a fire pit, and the different methods will suit some situations better than others.

General Safety

Precautions must always be taken whenever there is fire involved. If using a fire pit in your backyard or in a campground, make sure you follow basic fire rules before you even light the fire. Bear in mind that fire, mixed with a combination of a party atmosphere, drinks flowing freely, children playing, and an open fire can quickly cause a tragic accident. Simple precautions, pre-planning, and care when using pits will mean dangerous situations are averted.

Before using your fire pit, you should check with your insurance company as disclosure of your fire pit may be a requirement of your policy. You will need to verify that you know how to put out a fire pit. Always use safety gloves when handling a hot fire pit. Put a fire screen around the backyard fire pit to keep the sparks from jumping out of the pit to enhance pit safety.

Before lighting a fire outdoor in your wood-burning fire pit, check the weather forecast. Avoid lighting fire pits in windy conditions that can blow ashes and embers out of the fire bowl. Also, stay up to date with burn bans or burn ordinances that might be in effect at different times during the year. Wood-burning fires are fun and always add to the atmosphere, but pit safety comes first.

Water is your best defense against fire. Have a garden hose or a similar continuous supply of water available at all times. Be aware that many homeowners may shut off their garden hose to prevent freezing in cooler temperatures, and this means that your access to water is going to be delayed. Ensure there is a fire extinguisher handy and that you know how to use it.

A suitable fire extinguisher will have a Class A rating. Read the instructions and keep your extinguisher serviced and ready for use. Ensure that the burning pit is in the care of a responsible adult at all times. There is no way children should be left unattended even if the fire in the wood-burning fire pit has been reduced to ashes. Make sure the area around the fire pit is clear of combustibles, particularly dry leaves and debris.

Where Should A Fire Pit Be Placed?

One way to ensure fire pit safety is to make sure you select the right site for your outdoor fire pit. Make sure the ground is level, especially when using a portable fire pit. Keep fires located at least 10 – 20 feet away from surrounding plants and nearby buildings. Make sure there is plenty of airflow for your fire pit and that it is not near anything flammable.

Plastic materials, for instance, too close to your fire pit, could melt and melted plastic is extremely difficult to remove and will ruin the fire pit’s surface. Burning plastic also releases toxic fumes into the air. Check with your local city and county authorities to make sure you observe the distance required by law. In addition to considering the location of your firepit outdoor, you will need to find the best surface for your purposes. Safe pit surfaces include brick, stone, gravel, and concrete. Fire pits should never be placed on wood decks.  

The simplest fire pit of all is little more than a metal fire bowl, which may or may not come equipped with a grill top and a protective screen cover. Depending on your local regulations, the option of a covered fire pit may be suitable for a patio or courtyard with good airflow. Fire pits should never be used in an enclosed space. Portable pits come in lots of sizes and shapes. The fire bowl with its self-made top prevents rain from getting into the fire pan, and its open sides allow you to add wood easily. During the summer, these fire pits also make great planters.

Chimineas are a popular choice of fire pit though they don’t give off a lot of heat, but the smell of wood-burning and their easy adornment to a backyard is a positive feature. On the other hand, some pits are nothing more than a ring made from mortared limestone. Some more sophisticated versions will have a drain in the center connected to a pipe running underground to dispose of rainwater that might be collected.

In-ground or block fire pits are great for large backyards. They can handle larger wood logs and can hold a larger burning fire. Block pits can be built from rectangular retainer wall blocks. Use a gravel base and tamp down once the grass sod and dirt have been removed. Blocks can be joined with concrete adhesive. Line the inside of the fire pit walls with clay fire bricks, add a few inches of lava rocks for the base.

How To Put Out A Wood-Burning Fire Pit

While fire pits are an excellent choice of decor that will add style and warmth to your outdoor area, if they are not used properly, they can be dangerous fire hazards. The good news is that fires caused by pits are preventable as long as you use them safely and put the fire out properly. Coals, embers, ashes, and wood can retain heat for hours and even days in the right circumstances.

Putting out the fire in your pit completely ensures that you do not have an accidental backyard fire. You will need to have a few supplies ready before you start the fire. Have a large bucket of water, a metal shovel for ashes, and a garden hose nearby.

If you have a wood-burning pit, always use dry, seasoned sticks or wood for a safer fire. It is generally not a good idea to use recycled furniture of extra dry wood and never burn wood that has been painted, stained, or chemically treated. The best way to control the size of your fire and use your wood more efficiently in a firepit is by using uniform pieces of wood. Save your woodworking scraps for your fire pit. When arranging your firewood in a fire pit, don’t pile the wood in a single clump. Arrange the wood, so there is space between the wood.

Wood fires can be started with crumpled up paper beneath the kindling of small sticks, or you can use store-bought fire starters. Build your fire slowly by placing small sticks and allowing them to begin burning before adding larger pieces of wood. Don’t throw on the extra piece of wood if you plan on wrapping things up a short time afterward or planning on moving inside shortly.

Before you can put out the fire, it is best to allow the wood to burn down to ash. The ash from a wood-burning fire pit will retain heat even if it is not actively glowing and will still be extremely hot. Wait until the ash has cooled some, as hot metal and water can crack your fire pit. You will hear some sizzling sounds from some of the ashes that are still ignited.

Slowly pour water on all of the ashes, not just the ones that are red and glowing. Do this carefully as pockets of air could cause the fire to hiss and spit at you. If there is a lot of smoke – just wait a little and try again. Pour water to put out the pit until the sizzling sounds are completely stopped.

Using a shovel, stir all wet ashes of ember and remaining chunks of wood together. Make sure the water has soaked everything. You want everything in the pit wet. 

If you do not have enough water, you need to use dirt or sand to extinguish the fire. You are trying to suffocate the embers by depriving them of oxygen, so move the dirt or sand through the embers. A buried fire can smolder and then re-ignite. A buried fire with sand or dirt can retain heat at 100 degrees eight hours after being covered. 

Do a final check to see if the fire is out. Poke a stick in the embers and look for bright spots when you stir the ash.

How To Put Out A Fire Pit With A Snuffer Cover

Copper fire pit or metal fire pit covers are also an excellent option for effectively putting out fire pits. These snuffer covers or fire pit lids are a heavy-duty lid that fits securely over the pit and provides a sensible option when you are ready to put the fire out, ensuring no stray sparks can sneak out.

This type of lid limits airflow to the dying embers of your fire, and you can be sure the fire does not rekindle after putting it out. Snuffer lids come in a variety of styles. You want a solid, cone-shaped cover with sturdy handles and no holes to allow air in.  

A sturdy metal lid on a pit also prevents rain from entering the bowl of the pit. Additionally, if you have an in-ground pit, a strong metal cover will keep animals and people from accidentally falling in when you are away.

Can You Leave A Fire Pit Burning Overnight?

An unattended backyard fire pit poses many risks that should be considered if you decide to let the pit burn out on its own. The hot embers from the unattended fire pit could be tipped over by pets or even wild animals, especially if you live in a remote or woodland area. These embers only need to come into contact with dry wood, grass, or pine needles or even your deck, and you have an unplanned fire on your hands.

Even if the fire pit is fixed in place and therefore not likely to be tipped over, sparking from cooking embers mixed with nearby fuel sources could present an unintended fire risk.

If this is your only option, keep the area around the pit clear and remove anything nearby that is susceptible to heat or is flammable. It is a good idea to wet the surface area surrounding the fire pit to minimize fire risk and any possible damage caused by ejected sparks.

General Maintenance

Once the party is over, spend some time maintaining your fire pit. Pits will provide years of enjoyment as long as you take care of them. Remove the ashes and any sand used to put out the fire the next day. Rainwater can turn your fire pit ashes into a sludge-like mess that’s difficult to clean.

If you’re using a cooking grate to prepare food over your wood-burning pit, always clean up properly to avoid a build-up of residue on and around the fire pit and cooking grate. Put a little fire pit ash in your garden as it repels snails and slugs. Your tomatoes will be larger and plumper if you add a ¼ cup of wood ashes to the soil when planting.

Gas Pit

If using a gas pit, regularly inspect the burner, gas lines, connections, hoses, and fittings to make sure they are tight, secure, and clean. Keep the vent openings and surrounding areas free and clear of dirt and debris at all times. Bugs, dirt, and build-up can block the flow of gas and cause a fire. Have the pit and gas supply inspected once a year by a licensed professional.  

Final Thoughts

Your outdoor pit provides a great addition to your backyard and provides the perfect opportunity for a more intimate atmosphere for social gatherings. Depending on the type of fire pit you have, you may even cook full meals on the open flame.

You must follow simple safety guidelines and maintenance tips to keep your pit in good working order and to keep you and your guests safe. A wood-burning fire adds ambiance to a chilly evening, and many people find a burning fire to be very relaxing. Knowing how to put out a fire pit the right way will give you peace of mind and make sure the time you spend around the fire will be the best experience for everyone.