Recently while Dave and I were working in the backyard, doing a little of the ever-present cleanup, the idea of an outside fire pit came up. We both liked the idea; it would be fairly simple, we thought, and although we probably wouldn’t use it often, the onset of fall made it sound like an enjoyable addition. We even had a good gravel area near the back patio to use for it.
I was picturing something simple, just a gentle scoop out of the earth lined with stones. But Dave, the one doing the digging, had slightly different ideas. It would be a bit deeper, with fairly vertical walls. And most importantly, he chose to run a pipe (actually a long tube designed for dryer vents) from nearby and feed it under the bottom of the pit, covering the end loosely with a stone. This would allow air to flow (or if we chose, be pumped) to the base of the fire.
He did a beautiful job, and it’s true that being able to blow air into the tube using our shop vac does a remarkable job of stoking that fire up. Within a few days of floating the idea we set it to use roasting marshmallows. The top is also narrow enough that we can set a grate over it to conveniently cook hot dogs.
However, it does turn out that this is only version 1 of the fire pit. Dave was a bit worried that the stones we had might not be suitable for high temperatures, and his fears turned out to be well founded. Under the heat of fire, they tend to break, sending off small splinters. If he turns the shop vac on, the cracking can become truly impressive, with shards of hot stone occasionally flying out of the pit. While that’s certainly exciting, we think it would be a neat feature if our fire pit didn’t spit hot bits of rock out.