A few years ago I looked at a lot of fire pits when I was shopping for one for my husband's birthday. I was quite surprised, and pleased, with the great selection on the market. Besides fire pits, there are some other great options that you may prefer. Lets take a look at all the options available so you can make the best decision for your circumstances.
First, there are the standard fire pits. You can find these made out of a variety of materials and in different shapes and configurations. Most of them look like small tables, usually round or square though you can find fancier shapes, in which there is a steel fire bowl with a ledge around the top edge. The ledge is often what distinguishes each table. I found some made out of black marble, others glass and marble mosaic, slate, granite, bronze and cast iron. In most of them you build a regular fire with wood, but there are gas ones available also. The styles available range from Tuscan to American South West to Asian and others, so there is something to suit any taste or landscaping. Most have fancy cast iron legs, though there are exceptions. Also, almost all fire pits come with a mesh safety screen to go over the fire to help contain random sparks.
Another great option to traditional fire pits, and that have become more popular over the last several years, are chimineas. A chiminea is an outdoor fireplace that is free standing. Traditionally they are earthenware, but you can also find modern styles made from cast iron. The cast iron ones I have seen have come in a variety of molds designs, mimicking many different cultural styles. A chiminea is typically shaped like an upside down light bulb on legs: a bulbous end for the fire with a short chimney. These can really add a classic feel to your back porch or landscaping.
Similar to chimineas, and serve the same basic purpose as fire pits, are outdoor fireplaces. The main difference that I can see is that they do not have the traditional chiminea shape. The box can be round, square or other shape, and there usually is not chimney. All the ones I looked were made of metal, either painted black or stainless steel and some had copper accents.
If you just have a small area, one that wouldn't allow for a fire pit, then a great option for you might be a table top fire bowl. Though one of these might be too small for roasting hot dogs, but you could still manage one marshmallow at a time! These add great ambiance to a basic patio table. Fire bowls have a gas flame, and the available styles are endless. A few that I have seen are copper bowls, hammered polished brass, nickel towers and chrome. As you can guess, they also come in many shapes: round, rectangular, towers (straight and wavy), square, oval etc. Even if fire pits would work for you, or you already have one, these can still have a great place on you patio.
Fire pits can add so much to your landscaping. They offer a place where you can gather with family and friends. The fire pit I ended up getting for my husband was round and copper. Our family spent many summer evenings sitting around the fire, roasting marshmallow for s'mores, talking and laughing. Our entire family has fond memories from those evenings. So, if you are looking for a great way to build family connection, and add some ambiance to your back yard, then fire pits may be for you.
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