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How To Make a Fire Pit

Cooking on a fire pit

Firepits are an easy way to introduce campfire cooking into your garden. You can experience all the wonderful flavours of outdoor cooking, without buying a barbeque or scouring the countryside for a secluded field.

Fire bowls serve the same dual purpose of outdoor stove and brazier, and have the benefit of being portable, but in our experience a fire pit in the garden is hard to beat. And they are so easy to make.

  • You will need around 4 bags of sand (ideally sharp sand, but building sand or plastering sand is fine), 6 bags of gravel (any aggregate or shingle will do the job), a few bricks or rocks, a length of string, a small stake, a spade and about 1 hour.  A pair of fire bellows will also come in handy.
  • Find somewhere level for your fire pit that isn't close to anything flammable such as trees or buildings. We want the fire to stay in the pit and not to spread!
  • Be sure there aren't any underground wires, cable or pipes. Your pit will rapidly turn into a plunge pool if you hit a pipe.
  • Drive a stake into the ground where you want to build the fire pit. Draw a circle around the stake by tying a piece of string to the stake. The string should measure between 45 – 60cm.
  • Mark the circle you have drawn with flour or sand.
  • Remove the turf inside the circle and dig out the hole to a depth of about 30cm. Try to keep the sides of your hole as straight as possible.
  • In the centre of your fire pit dig a further hole about 20cm square and 30cm deep. Fill this small hole with gravel. This will act as a heat store and improve the drainage of your fire pit.
  • Back fill the main hole with 10cm of gravel and then 10cm of sand. This will provide a well drained flat base for your firepit which will retain the heat from your fire. The aim is to have the base of the fire pit around 10cm below ground level.
  • At this stage you may want to make a ventilation channel but cutting a narrow trench out from the fire pit. This can help the fire to draw, particularly if your pit is more than 10cm deep.
  • Surround the inner rim of the fire pit with a single layer of bricks or rocks, leaving a gap if you have made a ventilation channel. This will help contain the heat of the fire and strengthen the edges.
  • Surround the outer rim of the fire pit with a ring of stones or bricks. This helps demarcate the pit and make it less likely someone will inadvertently fall into it. The stones also provide a useful platform for pots, pans and plates for when you cook with your fire pit.
  • For the full authentic outdoor fire experience you can light you firepit without matches with a firelighter kit, with bellows for extra puff.  What is important though is having plenty of bone dry kindling to get the fire up to critical heat, at which point you can add any less dry wood