Build a Fire Pit and Everyone Will Love You
Are you one of the many American families who have decided to spend their holidays at home this year? Why not add authenticity to your "staycation" and improve your home's appeal by building a fire pit in your backyard? Remember those wonderful moments of youth, roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories around the fire? Revive the glory days and create a bevy of new memories with a fire pit of your very own.
The first step to heaven in the back yard is to check with your local authorities to be sure you don't land in a legal hot spot. Then you want to find yourself a location. Choose a site that's well away from any buildings, fences, shrubs, overhanging trees and anything else that might catch fire. You may also want to consider the neighbors: if you aren't on good terms, putting the pit downwind from their property will only add fuel to the fire.
What you build your blaze with will also have an impact on your popularity rating. You should only burn untreated wood that's dry and clean. Never burn garbage, especially plastics, leaves or brush - the smoke can be very irritating, aggravating health conditions and upsetting your neighbors.
What the actual fire pit will look like is entirely up to you. There are many pre-made options, such as the Chimenea, a popular three-footed tub often made from ceramic or cast iron. You might also want a portable fire pit that's good to go for camping trips. These usually feature a dish for logs and a spark guard that will ensure your flames stay put.
Building your own ring of fire is a pretty hot project and it's not hard to do. You'll need an interior steel lining like the metal rings you see in campgrounds and some bricks (do not use natural stone, as they may have hidden pockets of water that could explode when heated).
The ideal diameter of the pit should be somewhere between 3 and 4 feet in diameter so that you can talk to your friends across the fire. Lay your cement bricks on the ground and mark a circle around the outside using a shovel. Remove the bricks and dig out the entire circle six inches deep. Then dig a trench where your blocks were that's as wide as the block and an additional six inches deep (the ring where your blocks will lie is now a foot deep). Fill the trench with gravel until it's even with the center. This will protect from frost and provide drainage.
Begin placing the bricks in the pit. The first one should be level side to side and front to back and the following ones should be level to the first until you've finished the first layer. Use masonry adhesive to fasten the second layer to the first, setting the stones to cover the seams on the first layer.
Add six inches of gravel to the center of the pit, continue with a third and fourth layer of bricks and then fit your metal ring inside the bricks. You may want to invest in a screen to keep your fire in the hole.
Wait a couple of days for the adhesive to cure before setting your first fire. Always be sure to have a bucket of water or sand within arms reach of the fire for emergencies, never leave a fire unattended and give children basic fire safety lessons (stop, drop and roll).
Before you know it, you'll be sitting around the fire roasting hot dogs and marshmallows with your friends and family. If you're really ambitious, you could look up the old camp songs - after all, who doesn't love a rousing rendition of "Kumbaya"?