A fire pit can create a very cozy and intimate environment for a backyard, patio or any other outdoor setting by not only providing warmth but also a medium to cook scrumptious marshmallows for yourself and your friends.
However, it can be a frustrating experience if the flame in the fire pit seems to go out every 10 to 20 minutes, forcing you to light it all over again.
Why this happens mostly comes down to the improper setting of the fire pit and the wrong technique for using the fuel/wood.
You can keep your fire pit going for longer by using dry, seasoned hardwoods such as OAK or BIRCH TREE logs at the end of the cycle. An even better thing to do is to first use softwoods such as pines and firs to further add to the kindling step, followed by hardwoods. This combination and a large stash of quality wood fuel will keep your fire pit going for hours and hours.
Let us discuss in detail what makes fire pits go out easily, and some of the tips and tricks you need in order to keep your fire pit burning through the entire night.
Knowing the Basics
It is first important to know that there are two types of fire pits – wood fire pits and gas fire pits. The former uses wood naturally available in the surroundings while the latter makes use of propane and natural gas.
Both types have their own pros and cons and provide a different kind of ambience to the outdoor setting they’re placed in.
Wood vs. Gas Fire pits: What Lasts Longer?
In spite of whether you’re using a wood fire pit or a gas-based one, the answer to which would last longer and in which one should you invest your money is very subjective and is based on individual preference.
Let us help you though make an educated decision by highlighting some of the basic differences between the two.
Wooden fire pits, with the correct installation and maintenance, will last longer than most gas fire pits.
They’re also cheaper in terms of price, as you can easily get your hands on the required woods whenever you want to light a flame.
Also, the flame produced by wood fire pits is stronger as compared to that produced by gas-powered ones.
Gas fire pits, on the other hand, have a fixed time period which boils down to the BTU rating of each individual gas fire pit. On a 20lb propane tank, you can expect to achieve a flame lasting 3 to 6 hours.
They also start easily as they simply require a push-down ignition mechanism as compared to a wooden fire pit which requires you to gather several materials to light the flame.
However, they’re more expensive, and have various safety hazards you need to consider such as gas leaks, which if left unchecked, can lead to dangerous explosions.
How to Properly Light Your Wood Fire Pit So It Lasts Longer?
There are various strategies and techniques to keep your wood fire pit burning for longer hours. Usually, it comes down to using the correct kinds of wood and the manner in which you light them. Below are the things you need to know regarding this subject:
1. Gathering the Proper Materials:
You cannot expect the flame to last overnight by using random woods in a random manner. The best way is to go in the order of tinder, kindling and finally, dry firewood. Let us break these down for you in an easy-to-understand way:
a) Tinder: Tinder materials are those which burn easily and are mainly used at the beginning to kick start the flame. These include newspapers, dry leaves, toilet papers, pieces of cardboard, pine needles, cotton swabs and so on.
b) Kindling: Tinder materials are followed by kindling, which consists of small sticks, branches, and twigs. You can chop a bigger wood piece into smaller chunks and sticks to create your kindling. These last longer than tinder and give more ‘durability’ and structure to your flame.
c) Dry Firewood: Use dry, seasoned hardwoods such as oak or birch tree logs at the end of the cycle. An even better thing to do is to first use softwoods such as pines and firs to further add to the kindling step, followed by hardwoods.
2. Lighting the Fire Pit:
With all the materials gathered, let’s focus on how to use them correctly so you can expect a long-lasting flame:
a) Find an area that is away from vegetation or any flammable materials. A good rule of thumb is to light your pit at least ten feet away from flammable objects.
b) If you don’t have a fire pit, you can easily learn how to make one yourself. Dig a small hole in the ground that is about 6 to 8 inches deep. Surround the hole with rocks in order to absorb moisture and to keep the woods in place.
c) Start with the tinder materials, placing them at the center of your fire pit, followed by placing the kindling and hardwood logs on top of the tinder in a V-like, teepee structure.
d) Light the tinder materials at a few places to create the preliminary flame and keep doing so until you have a consistent flame reaching the kindling and the hardwood. You can add more tinder in case you find the flame weak. You can keep adding branches and sticks to intensify your flame to the desired size.
Reasons Why Your Wood Fire Pit Keeps Going Out?
Besides from knowing how to ignite your fire pit, it helps to know some of the additional do’s and don’ts regarding the subject so you can troubleshoot if you find your fire pit going out too quickly. Below are some of the reasons why your wooden fire pit may not last long:
Using Wood with Too Much Moisture: All woods have moisture, but if the ones you’re using have an overabundance of moisture, which generally means, above 20% percent, your flame will go out too quickly. Always use dry wood.
A wood moisture tool is useful for checking the moisture content of the wood you’re thinking of using. Here’s a good example we use here.
Additionally, you should avoid freshly chopped off trees as they still have a lot of moisture content. Use seasoned woods as they guarantee a sustainable, stronger flame.
Not Providing Enough Ventilation: Proper ventilation will ensure that your flame runs longer, as a fire pit requires oxygen to stay lit. Building your fire pit in the teepee shape is one of the best ways to provide ample ventilation, as the bottom center area within the hole you’ve dug will have enough space for air to pass through.
Apart from the teepee structure, you can also place your logs perpendicular to each other. The void between each log in this case will ensure proper ventilation for the flame.
Not Considering the Weather Conditions: It’s best to simply postpone lighting your fire pit if the weather conditions aren’t exactly fire-friendly. You don’t want strong winds to blow off embers from your fire pit which can harm people in the surrounding or ignite flammable objects.
However, if you still want a fire in this case, consider setting your fire pit in an area that is less exposed to the wind, such as retaining walls. In the case of rains, you can consider using water-resistant woods such as birch trees to keep the flame going on for long.
Not Adding More Firewood from Time to Time: You’ll need to add more firewood from time to time whenever the flame seems to get considerably weak. However, make sure you place the additional firewood in a smart way that does not compromise on the fire pit’s ventilation.
How to Keep Your Gas Fire Pit from Going Out?
We’ve discussed the various do’s and don’ts regarding making a wooden fire pit last longer, and as visible, they require quite a bit of maintenance which can be a hassle for some. Gas fire pits are as easily to start as pushing a button, and they also provide a fixed, consistent flame depending upon the BTU rating, but that doesn’t mean they are invulnerable to problems.
When a gas fire pit goes out, it usually comes down to two things. The first is improper installation. Most gas fire pits will come along with an instruction manual for you to follow in order to install them, but it’s best to get them installed through a professional who’ll set them according to the considerations of your individual space.
Apart from that, gas fire pits can also run into problems if dirt and debris are stuck in the valves or burner ports. The pilot tube can also similarly get clogged. Make sure you regularly clean your gas fire pit and check for blockages from time to time, and if the problem still persists, consult a technician.
How Much Fuel/Wood Do You Need for A Long-Lasting Flame?
In the case of wood fire pits, a general rule of thumb to find out how long your wood will burn is the ½ inch rule according to which every ½ inches of wood will burn for an hour. For example, a twelve inches of wood will burn for twelve hours. As for the tinder and kindling, it’s best to keep adding them until you achieve a stable, consistent flame.
As for gas fire pits, it depends on what setting you keep the flame at instead of just the amount of fuel used. A 20lb propane tank can last 8-9 hours at a moderate setting and 3-4 hours at the maximum setting.
Making your fire pit last longer is a matter of technique and also the kind of fire pit you’re using. Make sure you’re keeping all factors in consideration, such as the type of wood/fuel used, the weather conditions, the maintenance of the fire pit, and so on, in order to ensure you can enjoy a long-lasting, warm ambience from your fire pit.
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All the best
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