Help me become a firepit guy?
March 25, 2020 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Winters in Wisconsin can be a bit brutal and I'm leaning towards getting a fire pit to add some cheer to when it gets cold.

I have a concrete patio and am thinking a portable firepit would work better than a full-time structure (patio isn't huge so I'd want to move it when not using it).

Any tips? I've seen Instagram feed ads for a variety of them and my local hardware stores have them as well. Materials to focus on or avoid? Features to look for? Will likely get a cover to keep the elements out in-season and store it in my garage otherwise. Thanks in advance!
posted by Twicketface to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My firepit is nice, but has the issue that it doesn't heat terribly well if there's even a light breeze. I ended up getting one that was much lower to the ground (literally 8 inches deep) instead of a table, so I could physically get over it.

I'd suggest thinking about whether you can put in any kind of wind block in order for it to be effective.
posted by jenkinsEar at 11:22 AM on March 25

I'm not sure a firepit in the middle of winter will do much.

My dad has a wood burning stove in his garage, which I think, is a much better solution. And even at that, in the dead of winter, he can't get the garage warm enough to make it worth his while.

If you have a garage available, which it sounds like you do, can you make a space in there for a small wood or pellet stove?
posted by hydra77 at 11:59 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]

We live in Duluth MN and we have a fire pit (AKA one of those metal dishes with a cover that a neighbor threw out when they moved. The mesh cover is kind of trashed, but the bottom part works fine.)

We put it in a place where we have a couple chairs to enjoy the evenings in the non-winter seasons. In the winter, we use it sometimes, and it's awesome. Make a bunch of snow chairs around it, get a pile of wood, and we've hosted lovely small parties that way. But you still have to have sleeping bags to sit on or wear winter coveralls/pants that protect you from the cold.
posted by RedEmma at 12:10 PM on March 25

I'm a firepit gal and I think there is nothing cozier than a crackling outdoor fire!

As far as maximal warmth (and beauty), I prefer firepits with metal cutouts on the sides. Here is an example of what I mean.

You are very clever to be planning on storage. One thing to keep in mind is that you'll want to clean the ash out of it once in a blue moon so have a plan for how to dispose of ashes. Also if you get one with a metal lid (like in the 3rd photo of the firepit I linked to above) make sure you have a nice stick or something to handle it with when adding wood to your fire.

Also, s'mores fixings or weenies, obviously!
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 12:18 PM on March 25

I bought a propane fire pit at Costco a few years ago- it is one of the best purchases I ever made. Yes, wood fires are nicer, smell better, crackle and etc. However, turning a knob and dropping a match is pretty cool. We use it mostly when evening temps are between 45 and 65 degrees (May through September here in Seattle.) Yes, lower is better.
posted by carterk at 1:15 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]

The single best fire pit is an old washing machine drum with some legs welded onto it. Casters is you want to make it easy to move.
posted by booooooze at 1:58 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]

old washing machine drum with some legs welded onto it this is the Bakersfield solution, and the legs, can sink in the snow a little to stabilize in the winter. Nice 360 degree heat field.
posted by Oyéah at 2:11 PM on March 25

I am in WI and I picked up a pretty basic one at Home Depot a few years back for like $75. The trick is to keep your fire-pit in the garage when you're not using it, though obviously wait for it to be 100% cool. If you leave it out it gets rusty really fast and will start to disintegrate. I pick up scraps of wood and pieces of trees here and there and just store it up for spring, summer, and fall. I'm sure you could use a fire pit in winter but I'm not a huge fan.
posted by Slinga at 3:31 PM on March 25

I bought one of those metal ones and spent an inordinate amount of time reading reviews. It seems that all of the $80-$200 metal ones you'll find on Amazon or at big box store suffer from basic cheapness: Shoddy construction, rust easily, etc. There are two tips that I learned that seem good: Give it an extra coat of paint to stave off rust, using high heat spray-paint intended for things like barbecues, and put sand in the bottom to prevent the heat of the embers from wrecking the too-thin metal pan. All of that said, I used mine exactly once, when I discovered that even on a mild night my backyard is way too windy. Now it sits in storage. Sigh.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:27 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]

Something to consider, if you have nearby neighbors please take into account the effect it might have on them. Where I live our houses are very close together, and when our next-door neighbor uses his firepit in the backyard it makes a lot of smoke, which we can smell in our kitchen even with the windows closed. It's not pleasant.
posted by miaou at 7:22 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]

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