Whether your fire pit is crafted from durable stone or sculptural metal, and whether it runs on gas or logs, it needs thorough, regular cleaning to stay in great condition and work safely. Fortunately, cleaning your fire pit doesn’t have to be, well, the pits. With our helpful tips and a little elbow grease, you’ll have your fire pit safe, sparkling, and ready for another season of toasty, relaxing evenings.
Necessary Fire Pit-Maintenance Tools
Before you clean up your fire pit, clean it out. Having a few tools on hand can make the process even easier. If you have a wood-burning fire pit, get yourself a set of tongs for rearranging the logs and an ash scoop and metal bucket for clearing out all that debris. In addition to these handy tools, make sure you have a spark screen and protective cover sized to fit your pit. These items help your fire pit stay clean once you’ve taken care of the bigger jobs.
How to Clean Out a Wood-Burning Fire Pit
That famous campfire smell is one of the reasons we love wood-burning fire pits so much, but the leftover ashes can make a mess. Part of your fire pit maintenance should include regular cleaning after each fire. Wait until the ashes in the pit are completely cool — and be extra careful, because they can stay hot for hours. Wait at least overnight — or a couple days if possible — to remove the ashes from the pit.
Put on some protective gloves, and take out any large pieces of wood that remain. Then, use your ash scoop to transfer all the dust and debris into your metal bucket. If you have a shop-vac, you can also use it to get out any lingering ash bits.
Now, what do you do to get rid of the cooled ashes? You can likely dispose of them at your local waste management facility or in your home garbage can. Just make sure you contact the company first — some have requirements about how you need to package the ashes. Have a green thumb? You can also reuse the ashes in your garden. They add trace minerals like calcium and potassium, and sprinkling ashes around plants keeps hungry slugs and snails at bay.
Cleaning Out a Gas Fire Pit
Got a gas fire pit? Don’t worry about cleaning out ashes. Simply remove any sticks, leaves, and other debris from the burner pan and fire glass or rocks after each use.
If the fire glass needs some spiffing up, put on some protective gloves and remove the crystals from the pit. Place them in a large bucket outdoors. Get rid of any broken pieces you find, and vacuum any glass dust from the bottom of the pit’s bowl. Fill the fire glass bucket with water and a few squirts of eco-friendly dish soap. Swirl the glass around in the soapy water to loosen any dirt, and then pour some of the glass into a colander. You can finish rinsing off each “batch” of fire glass with your garden hose and let it all dry before storing it or adding it back to the fire pit. Follow these steps any time the glass starts to look dull or dingy — about once a season works well if you use the pit often.
Cleaning Different Materials
Fire pits come in all shapes, sizes, and materials — that’s one big reason to love them. However, all these materials have different cleaning needs. Here’s the lowdown on deep-cleaning by material type.
- Stone and masonry: Scrub the bowl using a stiff-bristled brush to remove large soot stains. Then, whip up a solution of 1 part muriatic acid to 9 parts water. Wear protective gloves, and scrub the pit bowl with this liquid. Hose it out and let the pit dry for a few days. You can also apply stone sealant that helps keep soot from sticking.
- Cast iron: Cast iron pits can rust — it’s a warm, textural look that you might love. However, if you want to keep that dark, industrial vibe, use steel wool to clean the pit or bowl. Rinse off any soot, and dry the pit with a soft cloth.
- Steel: Steel pits are so easy to maintain. Simply hose out any soot and debris, clean the pit with soapy water, and let it dry. It’ll be ready for tomorrow evening’s s’mores in no time.
- Copper: If your copper pit is treated with lacquer, simply use a soft cloth and warm, soapy water to remove soot from the metal. If it’s untreated, cut a lemon in half and sprinkle it with salt. Use this to scrub the pit to prevent patina from developing. Rinse and clean with warm, soapy water.
- Gas: Wipe down any flat surfaces on the pit with warm, soapy water. Check the gas line connections to make sure they’re leak-free. Place your cover over the pit to keep it clean for the next soiree.
Tips for Keeping Your Fire Pit Clean
- Use dry, seasoned hardwood in your fire pit (and never burn wood in a gas fire pit!). It burns more completely, meaning there’s less ash to clean up. Seasoned wood also doesn’t smoke as much. Avoid soft woods like pine and cedar, if possible.
- It’s common to do a deep clean of the entire pit annually every spring. This helps you get it ready to enjoy during warmer weather. If you use your fire pit year-round, it’s a good idea to do a deep clean every 6 months.
- If you have a stone or masonry fire pit, don’t use water to put the fire out if there are still logs burning. The quick drop in temperature can create cracks. Let the wood burn all the way down before adding any water to the ashes, if necessary.
- Keeping your fire pit covered when it’s not in use will keep extra debris – like sticks, leaves, and bugs – from falling into it.
Cleaning your fire pit is easy once you know the process. Follow these tips and easy steps to make the most of your favorite outdoor relaxation spot. With regular fire pit maintenance, you’ll enjoy years of evenings basking in delightful warmth.