You’ve used your fire pit a few times – marshmallows with your kids, an evening under the stars with your significant other, and that party where your whole family came by for the night.
Your fire pit is proving itself to be a real workhorse. It’s been a great centerpiece to your outdoor décor. Just load it with firewood, light it and relax.
With all that use, you also need to perform a little maintenance to extend the lifespan of your fire pit.
REMOVE ASH AND SAND
In some fire pits, it’s recommended that you put down a layer of sand in your fire bowl to protect the metal from extreme heat. Sand absorbs and distributes the heat evenly throughout the entire base of your fire pit. Depending on the fire pit, a one- or two-inch-thick layer of sand is recommended. Consult your assembly instructions to determine if you should put sand in your fire pit.
It’s not required to change the sand regularly, the heat from a typical campfire isn’t going to change the composition of sand. Regular fires will also keep the sand moisture free, which helps battle against rust. Be sure to cover your fire pit when it is not in use.
Leave the sand in as long as you feel appropriate. For basic maintenance, sift through the sand and pull out any large, unburnt cinders and debris and dispose of them.
Whether or not your fire pit requires sand, you’ll accumulate a layer of ash after any wood fire.
You should scoop or pour the ash out on a regular basis – but only after it has cooled to air temperature. Hot embers can pose a fire hazard, so it’s very important to make sure they are no longer a danger.
If a fire pit only burns untreated wood and paper, there’s an added bonus – the ash can be used as a fertilizer supplement. Learn more about the process here.
Otherwise, dispose of cooled ash in any trash receptacle.
For ash mixed with sand, simply skim the top level of the mixture with a finely slotted scoop or shovel. The sand, which is heavier, will slip through the slats, while the ash stays in the scoop.
CLEAN YOUR FIRE BOWL
Steel Fire Pits
Steel fire pit bowls are the easiest to clean. Once any ash has been removed, simply spray it clean with a hose and then lightly wipe it with a soap and water mixture. After you’re through wiping the bowl, tip it upside down and allow it drip-dry.
Cast Iron Fire Pits
Cleaning cast iron fire pits is slightly more difficult than steel. You should remove debris from the fire bowl in the same fashion, however you may need a few extra steps to return it to its original finish. When exposed to water, cast iron naturally forms a top layer of rust. Unlike steel, this will not harm the structural integrity of your fire bowl, and can be removed by gently scrubbing with steel wool. Rinse and dry with a soft rag when complete.
Copper Fire Pits
CobraCo copper fire pits are shipped with a coating of coconut oil to prevent oxidation during shipment — this ensures they arrive patina-free. After its first use, your fire pit will accumulate a layer of soot and develop a natural patina over time.
To help remove soot between fires, simply spray with a hose and clean with soap and water. This kind of light washing won’t damage the patina.
Before any cleaning, remove all ash from your fire bowl. There are chemical cleaners available that will allow you to easily remove tarnish, soot, and patina. For a natural cleaning option, prepare a salt and vinegar mixture of 1 cup salt to 1 gallon vinegar. From there, dampen a cloth in the mixture and scrub the copper vigorously. The mixture will eventually break down the green patina.
MAINTAINING YOUR FIRE PIT
Whenever a fire pit is emptied and cleaned, it’s a good idea to check its support structure. Do the fire pit’s bolts need to be tightened? Is anything bent? Are its legs loose? Is there any damage to the bowl? Is the spark screen torn?
If your fire bowl comes with a heat-resistant paint coating, it may begin to chip and crack over time. Temperature resistant paint is available at your local hardware store and re-coating every season will extend the life of your fire pit.
We also suggest that at least once a season you clean your spark cover with a wire brush and coat it with a heat resistant paint.