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Fire Pit 101

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Fire Pits Sticks and Stones

With all the available options today, choosing an outdoor fire pit can be an overwhelming task. Not to fear, we firmly believe that with the right information it can (and should) be an enjoyable experience.

Sticks and Stones Furniture founder, Yves St Hilaire likens choosing an outdoor fire pit or fireplace to choosing a new automobile. “There are Chevrolet Pintos and then there are Ferraris,” he says. Depending on the buyer’s budget and personal taste, there are products that come in all shapes and sizes. They also come in a range of materials ranging from rough and rugged stone, to granite and smooth concrete.

Outdoor fire pits need to be made from a non-combustible material.

Something that can also withstand the elements. A fire pit has to use a non-combustible material surrounding the insert, and the insert itself has to be CSA-approved for both home and commercial applications.

Fireplaces and pits can also use a variety of fuels to produce warmth. Buyers should check their city bylaws and relevant fire codes before making a purchase, as there are rules that apply to commercial businesses and residences.

Before you pick a fire pit, you should look at what fuel is available and recommended in your fire pit location. St Hilaire says that certain types of fire pits, like the wood burning caveman-style models, may not be allowed in populated areas due to safety and pollution reasons. As a result, he explains, the pit may need to burn natural gas, propane or an ethanol fuel. Each has their own pros and cons.

“Natural gas produces a great heat source and strong flames, is easy to light, and is the cheapest burning fuel and is abundant because it’s plumbed to your house,” he says. However, installing lines can be expensive if they were not included during a home’s construction. St Hilaire says that this requires a qualified gas fitter to hook it up, something that is not needed with propane or ethanol fire pits.

On the other hand, propane requires the owner to refill tanks frequently. Meanwhile, ethanol is slightly more expensive and it produces less heat and a smaller flame.

But no matter which fuel or design of outdoor fireplace, St. Hilaire says that it will certainly add style, atmosphere and a warm welcome to guests. “Anything that helps bring your family or friends together is a good thing,” he says.
* Excerpts taken from an article written by Steven Hill, a freelance writer in Vancouver. The full article can be found here in Design Quarterly.

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January 14, 2015