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A fire satisfies a primal urge in all of us, because it’s been key to human survival. We are drawn to fire, and that’s what makes a backyard fire pit so appealing. Of course, it’s not just the licking flames that make outdoor fire pits so attractive, it’s what you can do with them—from making s’mores over an open fire to having a source of heat outside on a cool evening to providing a place to congregate during an open-air gathering. 

The best fire pit for you is one that goes where you want it to go and heats the way you want it to heat. From wood burning fire pits to gas fire pits to portable fire pits, here’s what you need to know.

What to Consider When Shopping For the Best Fire Pit

Fuel source is the main thing to consider when determining which is the best fire pit for you, because different types of fire pits are better for different locations:

  • In general, wood burning fire pits are best if you’re looking for a backyard fire pit that can deliver a little campsite essence to your yard. Wood units are cheaper but can be labor intensive and put out smoke if the wood isn’t seasoned. 
  • Propane units don’t have that savory wood smoke smell, but burn much cleaner than wood. They’re also more portable and powerful. 
  • Natural gas fire pits aren’t portable, but also burn much cleaner than wood, and are much cheaper than propane to operate. 

Once you’ve determined where you want your fire pit to be, you can find a variety of shapes and sizes to fit the space. You can also find an array of materials. Wood burning fire pits can be stainless steel or cast iron, while gas fire pits can be made of concrete or steel.

Do you want to bring the campfire home?

Wood burning fire pits are the closest thing to having a true campfire in your backyard, providing a space where you can burn logs safely. Wood burning fire pits can be bowls with covers, or they can be entirely closed cages. Some of these backyard fire pits have table-like designs, providing ledges where you can set cooking utensils. 

Wood burning fire pits are made out of different materials, including iron, sturdier cast iron, heavy concrete, or stainless steel. Most of these materials offer some protection against rust or wear-and-tear, especially if the fire pit has a waterproof coating. But all outdoor fire pits are ultimately susceptible to the elements, and you should strive to clean and cover your wood burning fire pit after every use. If you plan to move your fire pit from place to place, look for a lighter material.

Best Fire Pit for Wood Burning: Outsunny 34” Outdoor Fire Pit

The Outsunny is a durable fire pit for any weather. Outsunny

Made of powder-coated steel and featuring a square design bordered with a bricklike pattern, this wood burning fire pit is as durable as it is stylish. Rest skewers on the ledge to toast marshmallows or roast hotdogs, or put the included spark screen on top to sit back and enjoy the crackling. The outdoor fire pit comes with a log grate, a poker, and water-resistant cover, so you can keep it outside in all seasons. Fire it up for winter bonfires, or fill it with ice and drinks to serve as a festive summer cooler.    

Do you want a propane fire pit for the patio?

Propane fire pits are perfect if you want something that’ll give your family and friends a source of warmth or entertainment—after all, flickering flames are always mesmerizing—but without the smoke and the need to feed the fire. They’re also available in various designs and construction. You can find models with natural stone looks, concrete builds, wood finishes, steel basins, and more. That gives you an opportunity to get the best fire pit that coordinates with your yard and the rest of your outdoor decor.

Best Propane Fire Pit: Outland Living Gas Fire Pit Table

Add ambiance and warmth to your outdoor space. Outland Living

The elegant Outland Living propane fire pit features weather-resistant espresso-brown wicker siding and arctic ice decorative glass rocks that reflect the dancing flames coming from 50,000 BTUs of heat. The effect is a stylish rectangular unit that can dial up the atmosphere of an outdoor patio. The propane fire pit features push-button ignition, and a durable powder-coated aluminum frame.

Do you want the ease of a natural gas fire pit?

Natural gas fire pits tap into your home’s gas line, giving you a permanent fixture on your patio. Because they don’t need space for a propane tank, they offer even more size and shape versatility. Natural gas fire pits also cost less to heat, and as long as you pay your utility bills, you’ll never run out of fuel. However, natural gas fire pits typically have less heat output than propane fire pits, and because they are fixed in place, they don’t afford the option of portability—which can be problematic if you like to frequently change up the layout of your patio furniture.  

Best Fire Pit for Natural Gas: Elementi Lunar Bowl Natural Gas Fire Pit

Included lava rocks bring a natural element to this natural gas fire pit. Elementi

Burning at 45,000 BTUs, this natural gas fire pit emits a clean, smokeless flame that matches its clean look. It has a glass-fiber-reinforced concrete drum and a durable stainless steel burner. Added perks include a canvas cover, push-start ignition, adjustable flame heights…and the fact that you should be able to use it even when a local burn ban is in effect.  

Do you want a fire pit you can take camping?

Portable fire pits let you bring the fire with you. When shopping for a portable fire pit, look for one that is relatively lightweight (you can find steel options at 30 pounds), come with a handle or carrying case, and don’t require a lot of assembly. Wood-burning fire pits are often easier to transport than gas fire pits, simply because they have fewer components and don’t necessarily require you to carry fuel with you.

Best Portable Fire Pit: Solo Stove Bonfire Fire Pit

The airflow design maximizes burning and minimizes smoke. Solo Stove

The double-wall design channels oxygen into the fire while the bottom vent holes fuel the flames, making for a hot and efficient burn that limits smoke. The stainless steel build gives the unit a modern look, while an included carry case makes this a very portable fire pit.

What’s the best fire pit can you get for less than $40?

You can absolutely find the best fire pit that’s affordable and provides safe places to burn wood in the yard. You’ll no doubt sacrifice on durability, since the frame material has to be cheaper to save on cost. And you’ll likely be limited with your style choice, too. But when you’re watching the flames, will you really notice what the fire pit looks like?

Best Cheap Outdoor Fire Pit: KINGSO Wood Burning Fire Pit

A functional fire pit for less than $40. Walmart

If you’re looking for an affordable, safe way to bring the campfire to your yard, this wood burning fire pit is a match. The 22-inch alloy steel fire pit is coated with a heat-resistant paint finish. And it features a mesh lid to stop the embers and sparks from flying, so you can relax and focus on the dancing flames. 

FAQs

Q: What is the safest fire pit?

The safest fire pit is a gas fire pit. A wood burning fire pit is safe as long as it’s placed in the right location—at least 12 feet from a structure and away from low-hanging limbs.

Q: Is it OK to leave a fire pit burning overnight?

No, it is not OK to leave a fire pit burning overnight. Embers and ashes pose serious fire danger, even if the flames are entirely out. A fire pit should actually never be left unattended. 

Q: Should I pour water on my fire pit?

You can pour water on your wood burning fire pit to put it out safely and efficiently. The best extinguishing method for the longevity of your pit is to let the fire go out on its own, but that’s often impossible, especially on nights when you’ve already pushed your bedtime by hanging around the fire. Keep a filled bucket or hose nearby your active fire pit and douse water on it slowly when you want the fire out. Be sure to stand back, as steam produced from the hot fire and cool water can be dangerous. Once your pit is cooled, clean it and then cover it to prevent corrosion and rust. 

The Final Word on Shopping For the Best Fire Pit.

Be realistic about how you’ll use the fire pit. While wood burning fire pits are great for authentic backyard campfires, gas is much safer and easier to use if you’re looking for something to transform the mood of your wooden deck. No matter what, an outdoor fire pit is an outstanding way to brighten any outdoor space.

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