Customer Service Hours

8:00 AM EST to 7:00 PM EST



7525 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA 22306

Get Directions


2843 Rogers Drive, Falls Church, VA 22042

Get Directions


802 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852

Get Directions

Inside a Wood-Burning Fire Pit

You know how to start your wood-burning fire. But here’s info about the pieces of the fire pit structure that lets you to have a safe and secure backyard fire.

How They Work and What You Need to Make Yours Great

Everyone loves a traditional wood-burning fire pit, but very few people know exactly how they work. If you don’t know how your fire functions, how can you be sure your fire pit is operating at maximum efficiency? Read on below for the answers to these questions and more.  We break down the anatomy of a wood-burning fire pit to show you what makes it tick and how you can best utilize one of your own.


Fire Pit Cauldron or Shell

A wood fire pit cauldron (or shell) is the foundation for any wood burning fire pit. This is where the fire burns, so fire pit shells are typically made of high-heat resistant non-combustible materials such as metals, stone, or concrete. The best part of utilizing these materials for construction is that they also provide extra durability and will last for years if properly maintained.

Fire pit cauldrons can come in a variety of sizes, with some versions being portable, while more permanent fire pits can weigh over a ton and be practically immovable once placed.

One handy feature you should look for in a fire pit shell is a drainage hole. While this hole needn’t be large to function properly, it should be centrally located to help drain any water and keep your fire pit ready for use at a moment’s notice. Always ensure all water is drained before placing your firewood in the shell.


Optimal Logs & Kindling

If you want to know what really makes a fire pit excel, it’s quality fuel in the form of logs and kindling.

Kindling is placed underneath logs as a base layer. These sticks should be smaller than a pointer finger in size and easily burnable. Logs can be stacked on top of kindling in a variety of formations to help improve air circulation, our favorite log setup is a log cabin-inspired arrangement.

While you might be tempted to skip kindling and go straight for the logs, this would be a mistake, as a fire burns more efficiently, not to mention is much easier to start, when there are a variety of wood sizes for it to consume as it builds up to a roar. 


Spark Guards & Screens: Fire-Safe and See Through

One vital accessory every wood-burning fire pit should have is a spark guard. These covers are typically constructed from a steel mesh and sit on top of your fire and prevent combustibles such as sparks, embers, or ash from leaving your fire pit and starting an unauthorized fire of their own.

And while you should never leave a fire unattended, if you need to retire for the night, but your fire is still going, covering your pit with a spark guard is a good way to let the fire tamp down on its own while reducing the risk of catastrophe.


Recommended Accessories

The following accessories can be useful for getting the most out of your fire pit and properly maintaining it.


Grates are installed inside your superior fire pit cauldron and are used to elevate logs and separate them from ash to improve the airflow of your fire. While not every fire pit will have a grate, they can be useful for prolonging the burn time of your fires.

Pokers and Tongs

Pokers and tongs are indispensable tools for manipulating and maneuvering burning logs inside your fire pit from a safe distance.


While they may seem excessive, using a cover consistently will actually protect your fire pit from unnecessary damage and greatly prolong its useful lifespan.


The Best Fire Starters

Nothing is more frustrating than going through an entire box of matches when trying to start a fire only to come up empty. The following optional fire starters should help relieve this pain and provide you with a blazing fire in no time.


Fatwood is our favorite fire starter thanks to its environmentally friendly origins and supreme reliability. Fatwood is made from smaller splinters of wood that are naturally rich in resin, and, when combined with the proper kindling, they are almost guaranteed to give you a roaring fire on your first try.

Break ‘n’ Burn Fire Starters

These fire starters are made of a combination of materials such as newspaper, wood chips, and wax that have been compressed together into an easily torn square. This makes Break ‘n’ Burn fire starters extremely versatile as they can be placed in even the smallest of spaces.

Lightning Nuggets

Lightning Nuggets are made of resin-infused pitch wood and are another great fire starter to use, especially if you are short on kindling.


We’re Always Here to Help!

Ready to take the plunge on your own fire pit but not sure where to start? Contact our friendly team of NFI-certified pros today and enjoy a fire of your own in no time! Our phone number is 866-848-3473 or you can get in contact by email. In the meantime take a look through the other articles in our Learning Center and browse our selection for more information.