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Guide to garden firepits

Firepits are a great addition to your garden in the autumn months. Safety is the key to making the most of your firepit, so here are a few tips about what to burn, how to stay safe and how to make the most of this versatile addition to your garden.

Safety first

Once you’ve found a safe, stable position for your firepit, your focus will be on choosing the appropriate fuel. The safest option is to stick with commercially produced speciality fuel, which is most likely to be kiln-dried logs or dry-seasoned logs. It’s important that anything you burn has a moisture level below 20%, so if you are considering using wood you’ve prepared yourself, do make sure that it’s properly dried out.

Charcoal is also a popular choice, as it retains a high temperature, so it’s ideal for cooking, and it produces less smoke than wood. If the smell of woodsmoke appeals to you, try out an applewood blend of kiln-dried logs, or seasoned logs infused with citronella to deter insects.

Lighting your fire

The next job is to light your firepit. You’ll need natural firelighters, kindling sticks, matches and patience. Steer well clear of paraffin blocks, as these can be far too flammable for firepit use. Do invest in a pair of heat-resistant gloves, and always make a family rule that only one person is designated as fire starter and tender. This avoids children or guests throwing the wrong item on the firepit – a used napkin soaked with cooking oil, for example, can cause a dangerous flame surge.

If you’re going to cook over the firepit, a heat resistant apron is a good idea too. Finally, always have a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water close by as a precaution, and make sure the fire is fully burnt out before leaving it unattended at the end of the evening.

Cooking equipment

Most firepits can double as a BBQ, but you’ll need the right specialist equipment to stay completely safe. If you’re adding a grill, make sure it can be firmly affixed, and that you have the right tools to access it from a safe distance – firepits can be very hot! There are some useful cooking aides on the market too, like pizza paddles, kebab racks, smoker boxes and traditional marshmallow toasting forks.

Creating an atmosphere

Wherever you set up your firepit, creating an area where people want to linger is key. If there’s space for chairs, benches or outdoor sofas, add them in, but sometimes, just a few picnic rugs and cushions can be just as inviting. Strings of solar lights in nearby trees can be a lovely touch, as can outdoor candles in hurricane lamps. Music is also great, but only at a sound level that encourages conversation and doesn’t disturb your neighbours. Finally, if you want the look of a firepit but none of the fuss, you can buy a flicker flame lamp that mimics real flames.

A firepit can elongate your outdoor entertaining season well into the autumn months, and it can bring a magical feel to your garden.

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