Having a brick fire pit in your garden can increase and enhance your entertainment and relaxation opportunities. Of course, not all fire pits are equal. Some easily accomplished tips can help you get the most out of your brick fire pit.
A brick fire pit can serve a variety of functions, the most popular of which is entertaining. This means a brick fire pit should be designed with groups in mind. As such, a round fire pit is a popular choice because it maximises the number of people that can sit around it.
The ability to cook over the pit is another function, which means the fire pit should be set into the ground, rather than raised, to allow guests to stick-roast food from a seated position. While marshmallows and hot dogs are mainstays of fire-pit cooking, you can put together more complicated fare.
Finally, a fire pit can be used to produce warmth, which is useful for extending the outdoor season into the autumn. A brick fire pit is excellent at releasing heat slowly throughout the night, which means your guests will be comfortable longer. All of these uses should inform the design and use of your brick fire pit.
Fire pits are typically circular or semicircular with a flat edge against a wall. One common pitfall is to build bricks too high, creating an unnecessary barrier between users and the fire's heat and light. Five rows of bricks is a good general rule when it comes to the maximum height that will allow for fire containment and for users to cook or warm their hands.
Since fire pits are primarily social installations, the design of the area around the fire pit is just as important as the pit itself. Many brick fire pits have stone or tile work surrounding the pit with either built-in benches or space for lawn chairs.
While brick is attractive, adding coping stones (capstones) to your fire pit can enhance its rustic, natural charm. Once you've found a stone you like, simply place them on top of the brick all the way around the pit. Mark where the stones hang over the brick or otherwise do not fit. Score the markings with a chisel and hammer and split along the scoring to create appropriate size stones. Affix with mortar and bonding additive. You now can enjoy the structural integrity of a brick fireplace with the appearance of a stone fireplace.
Of course, not all stones are appropriate for this outer sheath. Avoid sandstone or other sedimentary stones. They can have air pockets that will expand and explode when heated.
Use fragrant wood, such as pine chips or apple wood, to enhance the mood around your fire pit. People are used to the smell of smoke in their clothing after enjoying a fire ring, but this is avoidable. Many grocery stores, grilling supply stores and chef supply shops will have wood chips designed for fragrant grill cooking. These work just as well in a brick fire pit.
Cleanliness is just as important for keeping an attractive and pleasantly scented fire pit. Removing burnt material and fire debris will prevent rotting.
Install a grill or cooking tripod over your brick fire pit. You can either purchase a removable grill that matches the dimensions of your fire pit or have a more permanent version installed that can be pulled away from the surface of the fire pit on a hinge. You can plan for a permanent grilling space by installing metal tabs that will support a grill between the bricks while designing and building your fire pit. It is easy to match these tabs to standard grill surfaces with a little comparative shopping before building.
Of course, cooking over a fire has pitfalls, most notably uneven heating and ash. Turn, stir or rotate items regularly when they are over a fire or, whenever possible, keep the food in an enclosed container. Grilling over the fire is a great experience that everyone can share, and you can cook anything from steaks to mushrooms. And nothing beats chilli made in a cast-iron cauldron suspended from a tripod.