How to Make a Personal Fire Pit
For Cheap!

Welcome Buzzfeed people. If you like this post you might like today’s post on how to print on wood using Waxed Paper Transfers. All you need is waxed paper, a hunk of wood and an inkjet printer.

My name is Karen and I haven’t lit anything on fire in 5 months.  I’m sure I deserve some sort of a chip or something for that.

You see … I’m a bit of a pyromaniac.  Technically I’m not a *real* pyromaniac I guess.  I mean, I only light things on fire that should be lit on fire.  Like kindling and hardwood and pretty much anything with Hello Kitty on it.  And of course all of  Rush’s 1980’s albums where they dabbled in “New Wave”.

We light fires in the fireplace every night here in old Casa de Karen from October until March.  6 face cords every year go flying up that chimney.  But as deep and strong as my love of the log runs, I can’t bring myself to get an outdoor firepit. Once the season for fire rolls around I want to be inside laying on the couch with a hot chocolate and a plate full of cinnamon toast on my chest.  Not outside being bitten by the limp stingers of aged mosquitos.

So what’s a pretend pyromaniac girl like me to do in September?  When it’s cool out, but not cool enough to trap myself in the house all night with my cats, convertor and fire tongs?

The Answer … The Personal Fire Pit.  (as designed by my sister … I saw hers and then immediately came home and made my own exactly like the one she made.) It’s easy and inexpensive to make plus it’s wayyyyyyy nicer than any fire pit I’ve seen for sale in actual stores.

Here we gooooooo …

Materials You Need

Marine Silicone - $5

cheap glass frames - $4

small rocks - $2

any kind of metal mesh - $2

gel fuel - $4

any metal planter with a lip (edge) on it - $8 (on sale)


Step #1

Once you buy your planter, you need to find cheap frames with glass that will fit around the edges of your planter. I used glass document holders from the Dollar Store for $1 each.

Step #2 – Making a Glass Box


You need to make a glass box. So ... run a thin bead of silicone along the edge of one glass panel.


place another piece of glass over the siliconed edge

Press edge into silicone and hold for a few minutes


silicone the 2nd edge, propping both sides up with anything to keep them straight until they dry.


Once the silicone on the 2 sides has dried flip the box over so it looks like this.


run a thin bead of silicone along both exposed edges of glass.


gently place the final piece of glass between the 2 siliconed edges being careful *not* to smear the silicone.


now you have a box. A glass box. Wasn't that easy? Let the silicone dry for 15 minutes or so. Go have a cookie.


don't be alarmed if your silicone squeezes out like this. Clean it up with a razor once it's dried.


run a final bead of silicone around the entire edge of the glass box.


Flip the box over then place siliconed edge on top of metal planter, making sure there's enough edge near the centre left over for some metal mesh to rest on it.


** DISCLAIMER!  I have used my picture frame glass over and over in this firepit WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS AT ALL!

It is sudden temperature changes that causes glass to break, not necessarily heat.    So if you were to take your  hot, hot fire pit and throw it in the freezer, chances are it would break.  Uneven heating and cooling of the glass is the secondary cause of breakage because it puts stress on the glass.  Thin glass is LESS likely to be susceptible to uneven heating and therefore less likely than thick glass to break.  This is not my opinion, it is scientific fact.

However, if you’re still frightened by this then go to a glass cutting facility and have tempered glass cut to size for your fire pit.

Also, I have purposely made this fire pit large to keep the glass away from any direct flame.  Remember to do the same.**

Step #2 – Making the Pit

now that you have the structure, it's just a matter of tweeking it a little so you can have fire.

Cut a piece of mesh (I used a cheapo grill grate from Dollar Store) to fit *exactly* inside your glass box. It will rest on the lip of the planter.

Place your opened can of gel fuel in the centre of the planter.


place as much mesh as you need to cover the entire surface of the planter, resting mesh on the small edge of planter you've left inside the glass box.

It'll look something like this.


cover mesh loosely with rocks (you need some space in between the rocks to allow for oxygen so the fire will stay lit).


You're almost done


Firsty ... admire what you've done for $25.


Step #3 – Light your fire

Clear the rocks away from above the gel fuel can and carefully light the gel fuel. I use an advanced technique. I light the end of a piece of spaghetti. Whole wheat of course.


I would rule on Survivor, provided I'm allowed to bring a piece of spaghetti.


There you have your fire pit! $25. Plus as an added bonus, depending on what type of fuel you use, you can also use this fire pit *indoors*!!!

What makes this fire pit so amazing is the glass. The flames reflect against it creating dancing flames all over the place! Before I get to the final pictures with the fire pit in it’s rightful home in my back yard I wanted to let you in on a few tips.

1.  Make sure you buy gel fuel that’s meant for gel fireplaces.  Gel cooking fuel will not work because it usually only creates heat, not an actual flame.

2. Like I said, if you use a proper gel fuel (Real Flame for example) you can actually use this fire pit indoors. Be careful to place it on heat resistant fabric so it doesn’t scorch your furniture. The metal conducts the flame heat a lot!

3. Make sure your rocks are heavy for their size. Rocks that are light are full of air and may explode!

4. You can use any metal planter for this. This was on sale, so this is the one I got for this little fire pit experiment. Black metal square planters that are probably on sale at garden centres right now would look fantastic with white rocks.

5.  The gel cans last for about 3 hours, if you’d like to stop the flame earlier, just place something non flammable over the glass box to snuff out the flame.  Cans can be relit at a later date or time.









That’s it! That’s all it takes to make your own personal fire pit. $25, about an hour, and a piece of spaghetti. Oh … and a beautiful, golden, flaming match. Heh heh.

NOTE: Many people are having trouble finding a metal planter similar to mine. Remember you can also use terra cotta or ceramic.

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  1. Connor says:

    I LOVE this. LOVE. Fire gooooooood. Love.

    Aaanyway, why marine silicone? More heat resistant, orrr? Cause I have some clear shower caulk lying around that I’d like to use up…

    • Karen says:

      Hey Connor. I say to use marine silicone because it was cheap and is perfect for something you might be leaving out in the rain. It also comes in a small tube, so it’s easy to just squeeze it out by hand. You don’t have to use a big caulking gun which would be messy. And messy is bad. Punishable in fact. If you’re shower caulking is in a small tube, go for it. Otherwise, for the $5 or so, get the marine silicone. – karen!

  2. Jenn A says:

    Annnd… my girl crush continues.

    Will you move in with me?

    • Karen says:

      Sure thing, but you might have to fight Connor for me. Oh … and my fella. And I’m pretty sure Betty would be upset if I up and left. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea. You know what … I’ve been feeling a little unsure about us lately. I … I think we need to break up.

    • donna says:

      I was thinking the same thing! I have found a new source of entertainment when things get crazy around here, every 20 minutes actually….she cooks, is handy, funny as hell and I thank all that I have found her site!!

  3. Amie says:

    Genius! Do you think you could use a ceramic planter box instead of the metal one? xx

    • Karen says:

      Hi Amie. I think it depends on the ceramic planter. Something that won’t explode from the heat would be fine, like terra cotta or something made of clay. Personally, I’d buy whatever was on sale! – karen

      • Suzanne Phillips says:

        wow love this and would like to leave comments. How do I do that without replying to someone else comment. Thank you

  4. Kerry says:

    Wowzers…that’s pure genius! Just my luck it’s spring here now and not much call for fire pits. Hope I can remember this in six months time :)

  5. Every time you post, it’s like God has spoken to me and I must run out and purchase materials to make your wonderful projects.
    Hubby wants to know where I’m putting the glowing orbs, considering we don’t have a porch, or flowerbeds, or an extension cord, or even an electric outlet in the front of the house….
    I just tell him “Be patient young one… if you build it, they will come” and he gives me a strange look and backs away slowly. I think it has something to do with the bloodshot eyes and 14 cups of tea…

  6. Sherry (BTLover2) says:

    I’d like to throw my hat in the ring for having Kare Kare! I won’t make you move away from the guy and mom, but I’d like to hang out with you. I’ll bring the chips. You inspire me every day! You’re extraordinary!

  7. Beth says:

    Hey Karen – another fabulous post!! Love the idea, love the spagetti hint!!

    Just a question – any worries about the glas exploding from the heat. Should one use tempered glass? Of course, it’s not likely to be lying around in the rright size…..

    • Karen says:

      Heck yeah, that worries me. :) But not so much that I’d go out and get tempered glass which would be incredibly expensive. As long as the planter is big enough so the canned flame set in the centre has a fair amount of space around it you should be fine. But I wouldn’t want to use a can of flame in a tiny planter where your glass is right close to the flame. – karen!

      • Elanor says:

        Pretty sure that aquariums are tempered glass. You can get a small one from Walmart for under $15. *shrug*

        • klobster says:

          Not true: link

          • Gary says:

            I don’t think an aquarium would work well they are made of glass and plastic and the glass is super thin.

            • Karen says:

              Gary – Thin glass is actually better. It’s less prone to breaking than thick glass (in terms of hot/cold temperature shocks). But you’re right, an aquarium isn’t the right choice. Glass from picture frames is best glued together with silicone. ~ karen

            • Denise says:

              I want to use my 60gal aquarium for a base for a fire pit . My aquarium I
              Has no plastic and the glass is very thick, much thicker than picture frame glass. I was thinking of putting a metal planter inside of the aquarium and filling area around the planter with rock. Putting the gel heat in the metal planter and filling with more rock. What do you think.

  8. Holly says:

    Perfect Timing! I have been wanting a firepit but have putting off buying one because 1) the style was off and 2) why pay all that money if you don’t actually like it. Now I can make an awesome one for cheaper than buying an ugly one!!! The hubby will be thrilled.

  9. Amanda says:

    Wow, this is fantastic!!!

  10. Erin says:

    This is fabulous!! We live in a condo and have a balcony and I’ve been going crazy trying to figure out how we can have a bit of a fire going out there!

  11. terru clarkson farrell says:

    oh I too love all things flaming this is a great idea.Thinking it would be lovely house present for friends with summer places.

  12. Christina S. says:

    Beautiful! I love it… it’s so classy and expensive looking. You’re just SOOO handy!

  13. Sera says:

    This is incredible!!!! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

    Love it!!!

  14. gf says:

    silly me I was all ready with a shovel and a bag of sand

  15. mykidzmomnow says:

    This is SO cool, I cannot stand it. I want one. But I doubt Husband would appreciate it wen I only have a million other projects to complete. I blogged about it anyways! :)


    • Karen says:

      Thanks so much! PLUS … you linked to my site the right way!! You didn’t post my whole post and then say “Oh … by the way … this whole thing came from “here”.” When people do that … well … no one goes to the original site to see the content. Good job! You’re an excellent webmaster! Feel free to come and roast marshamallows over my pit anytime. – karen!

  16. Evalyn says:

    I love this idea because I’m part pyro myself, but I anticipate all kinds of problems. Like off-gasing from the metal (esp. if it’s painted) and the glass and the silicone (which are not meant to be used around heat)as well as the previously mentioned shattering glass. I definately would not use this indoors.

    My alternative? A wire mesh bowl of orange salt crystals with the little light bulb glowing through. Very cozy.

  17. Linda says:

    Where could I get my hands on the same planter as yours?
    All I could find online is
    and it’s a bit too modern than what I want

    • Tamiko Lagerwaard says:

      I’d really like to know this as well…Hope you let us know!

      • Karen says:

        Hi Linda and Tamiko! I’m afraid you probably won’t be able to find a planter exactly like mine. I got mine at a small local store that sells all kinds of things. If you keep looking you’ll be able to find something similar at a garden centre though. Or even Homesense (Homegoods). I recently found a planter the same colour as my original one, but in clay. Don’t forget you can use clay as opposed to metal. Good luck! ~ karen

  18. Kate says:

    Hey Karen – Love this project, thinking I will make one as a gift for my dad, he’d just adore it!

    Are you worried about the center of the grate burning away and creating a big hole? It looks pretty molten already…

    Great blog! I stop by often :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kate! The grate goes red *instantly*. But then it’s fine. Doesn’t burn away. However, if after many uses it *does* burn away, it’s no big whoop to remove the rocks and replace the grate. – karen

  19. Zina says:

    Whoa. Way cool, Karen! Am going to have to start looking for the parts.

    Here in the UK, I will add a step, tho, and make sure there’s holes in the bottom of the planter, so the innards don’t float away on the rainwater collected…which would def lead to exploding rocks!

  20. Liz says:

    Veeerrry pretty.

    Can i get a yard to place it in for $25 please?

    • Karen says:

      Well … $25 will probably buy you about 5 bags of dirt. Maybe you wanna slice those open in an unused spot of your living room. Instant backyard. Yes?

  21. Tickled Red says:

    That is absolutely bloody brilliant!! You are my D.I.Y Queen. Oh…thanks for the rock tip btw, I could just see the Leprechauns having a field day with that one 😉

  22. kristen says:

    In order to extinguish and re-use at a later date/time would you have to dump rocks, lift grate and cover fuel? I don’t know too much about gel fuel. And by not much I mean nothing.


    • Rachael says:

      Hi Kristen,

      I found the answer in her post:

      5. The gel cans last for about 3 hours, if you’d like to stop the flame earlier, just place something non flammable over the glass box to snuff out the flame. Cans can be relit at a later date or time.

  23. Vila says:

    You are my (and everyone else’s) idol :))) am completely in aw with this one!

    As I have a history of pyromaniacal behavior I am not worried about flames, but isnt’s boat silicone suceptable to heat? Wont it just desolve near heat at one point and the whole thing end up in some gaudi-like sculpture with broken glass all over the floor? Will ask around what would be the heat resistant alternative and let you guys know if I find something out :)
    Anyhow, thanks a bunch, you are fabulous!

  24. Tracy says:

    What a great project!! Where did you find the planter?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tracy – I found the planter at a little shop in a strip mall near where I live. You’ll probably never find the exact same one, but just keep your eyes open. Something will pop up somewhere. Discount/junk stores for example, or a lot of planters will be on sale at garden centres right now. (in North America anyway)

  25. Brilliant!

    Another clever, stylish Canadian…oh yeah!

  26. lori says:

    OH MAN!! what a great idea. I was thinking along the same lines as GF. get the sand bags out. I love your idea!!!!!or I should say our sisters idea!! couple of question…. do you have to put the glass in?
    and what if I wanted to use wood? couldn’t i put sand in first then the wood and light it???

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lori! No you don’t have to put the glass on it. It just finishes it off and helps to reflect the flame so it seems even bigger than it is. The glass really does add to it, but you can do it w/out if you want! – karen

  27. Penny says:

    I love this idea! I’m just moving into my first place and can’t wait to make it! I’ll definitely be blogging about that journey and will be sharing this post (assuming you don’t mind!) 😉


  28. Jen says:

    Do you think that you can have this indoors? Or would that not work because there’s no proper ventilation??

    I really want to do this indoors, but would worry about my apt catching on fire :)

    • Karen says:

      Jen, As long as you use the proper fuel (the one I’ve used for example) you can use it indoors. This particular gel fuel is meant for indoor gel fireplaces! Good luck. – karen

  29. emily li says:

    does it provide any heat?
    i’ve been thinking about doing this myself!

  30. This is absolutely AWESOME!

  31. sue says:

    Do you think you could use shells instead of the rocks?
    Which do you find first – the glass and then find a planter to fit the glass size or the planter and then find the glass to match!?
    This is a whole lot cheaper than to have the jel fireplace built in:)

  32. ¡me ha encantado!! y espero que no te moleste que lo comente en mi blog y te haga referencia. Es una idea perfecta, práctica y sencilla, como decimos por aquí un BBB (bueno, bonito y barato) que en inglés sería GPC (good, pretty and cheap) 😉

    (I loved it! and I hope you do not mind that comment on my blog and you refer. It’s a perfect idea, practical and simple, as we say around here a BBB (good, nice and cheap) that English would be GPC (good, pretty and cheap) ;-))

  33. Debbie says:

    What a great idea…saw this on design*sponge. Here in the Netherlands, everyone uses chimneas or small wood pits, and burn treated wood that stinks up the entire neighborhood. This is SO MUCH BETTER..I cannot wait to get started. Thanks!

  34. Patricia says:

    Where do you buy Gel Fuel!?

    • Karen says:

      Patricia. You can get gel fuel over the internet, at Costco sometimes and at hardware stores. Just remember, you wan’t fireplace gel fuel, not cooking fuel! I’m in Canada and I got my Real Flame Gel Fuel at Rona. – karen

  35. holly says:

    Can I just say WOW? How the heck did you think of that?!
    I love it!

  36. Donna says:

    BRILLIANT! Seriously, this is an amazing idea and so inexpensive and modern-looking too, which is a bonus! Definitely going to make one of these.

    Off to browse the rest of your site to see what other genius ideas you came up with! :)

  37. Jenny says:

    Totally brilliant! I am going to make this for our first anniversary. One question though? Did you get the glass and the metal planter at the same place? How do you make sure that they will fit? and can you share where you got them for cheap?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny! I think all of that info is in the post, but I will assume you were so excited over the fire pit you just missed it. LOL. The metal container was on the discount table from a small store around my house. Metal planters are on sale everywhere right now because it’s the end of the gardening season. Try your local garden centre. I bought the glass frames at Dollarama, but you could get thicker (but more expensive) glass custom cut at a glass cutting shop. I bought my planter knowing it was small enough that I’d be able to find glass to fit it. Just keep in mind that most frames come with glass that’s 5 X 7, 4 X 6 or 8 X 10. As long as your planter has an opening that’s somewhere in those measurements you’re good. You can adjust by overlapping the glass a little or extending it a bit and filling with silicone. Good luck! – karen.

  38. Jayfa says:

    Great Idea! I absolutely love it.

    It looks like it may be a bit tricky to get the old can of fuel out and put another one in. Do you think it would be possible (with a little extra time and money) to make the bottom hinged somehow?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jayfa. It really isn’t much of a pain to change the can out. You just have to remove the rocks and then remove the screen. Put a new can in, and refill it with the screen and rocks. If you were to put a hinged trap door on this planter bottom, you’d have to lift the planter over your head to open it, at which point the gel can would fall on your head. Presumably. LOL. Plus the rocks would be smashing against the glass as you held it over your head. Posing yet another problem. :) If I were you I’d just keep it simple, and remove the rocks and screen. I think it’ll be easier in the long run! Good luck.

  39. Cathi says:

    On a recent road trip, somewhere between Texas and California, I saw a sign that said “Mom and Pop’s Pyro Shop”! That’s what you and I can do when we retire! Open our own pyro shops!

  40. Chase says:

    How hot does the air above the fireplace get? I’m thinking of building something like this to make use of one of Chicago’s many no-longer-functional fake fireplaces in my living room, but I’m not sure if it would be too hot. It would be about a foot away from the painted, bricked-over flue of the old fireplace, so probably not a huge deal.

  41. DzynByJules says:

    A=MAZING!!!!!! I just stumbled upon your blog, and am in total AWE! This project gives me a great idea on how to use the firepit/cooler patio table that I’ve had for years and NEVER had a fire in (let alone, cold drinks). I didn’t really want to burn wood in it, as it’s on the walk-out patio under my deck and was in fear of burning it down. Now all I have to do is head to the dollar store and get a grate and glass panes and make my own. I have the rocks from there already, saving them for just the right project, and HERE IT IS!!! I already have a cover to put out the flame and mesh dome from the pit (maybe I don’t even need to build the glass frame then, but it sure does make the fire DANCE) (slight pyro tendencies here too), so once I assemble the rest and find the gel fuel, GAME ON! I’d love to send a picture of the finished product when I’m done… thanks a million for the inspiration! You ROCK!!!!! (major girl-crush going on here too) Jules

  42. I will have to say… I have built and re-built my ourside fire pit. (That I love) But this mite just be what the screen house (its large) Needs! As we are coming into the colder months and I am sure this puts off a little heat as well. Great job! I will also share a link to you on my blog.

  43. Seul says:

    Want to thank you– my BF has been bemoaning the lack of fireplace in our little starter apt, and regulations don’t allow a firepit … gonna make this for him for his b’day *smiles*

  44. Phoebe says:

    I love it, love it, love it! I found the glass at a dollar store and one square metal planter at Lowes. It was the last one in stock. I cannot wait to make it. I only hope to find more planters.

    Thanks, Karen, for your brilliant ideas!

  45. I LOVE this project!!! This will make a romantic Christmas Gift for My Guy. Thank you for posting!! (I found the link to this on Design Sponge.)

  46. Seul says:

    Update on the firepit: (I was the one who said I wanted to make on for the boyfriend’s b-day.) Went looking for a base, discovered NO ONE sells flower pots in October, particularly rectangle pots with a rim. Also, apparently the fire gel is semi-seasonal as well. Five stores later, amazoned the fire gel. Sixty dollars worth of it. Ok, now I’m committed to this project. Six more stores looking for square flower pots. Complete no go. Fire bowl, maybe? Back to same stores, looking for metal or clay bowl. From Tuesday Morning: large metal planter/cauldren/bowl thing. From the hardware store: can of spray paint so that bowl didn’t look like it wandered out of the 80’s. From the dollar store: multiple oven racks to use as screening. Total fail again. Square racks don’t fit into round bowls so well, even with wiresnips. But need something to hold the can in place. Several hours later: D’oh moment: filled metal bowl with dirt, hollowed out a space to hold the can. Placed a layer of river rocks around the can, they’re fairly large, so a few of the cover the edges of the can, and it doesn’t look quite so round. Fired it up, (yes, without him!) and works beautifully. Looks similar to this one:
    but at a nineth of the price. Thank you so much for the idea and the lovely tutorial … still hoping to make the square one with glass next summer. –S

    • Karen says:

      Hah! Well that sounds like quite an adventure. If you’re doing this again you can also go to the hardware store and ask for “hardware cloth”. It’s like a heavy duty version of chicken wire, that you’ll need tin snips or wire cutters to cut to size. Really cheap. You won’t need more than $1-$2’s worth. If you manage to take a picture of your creation send it along. Sounds like it was a struggle but turned out well! Congrats … hope your boyfriends loves it (and appreciates all the pain in the butt running around!) ~ karen

  47. so…i came across your project on design sponge and fell in love. I live in an apartment with a small balcony and cant wait to try this one out. My question is…. do you think the temperature difference when it starts to get around 40 degrees outside is gonna have an effect on the glass and the heat when I turn it on? I recently experienced exploding glass when I tried to make some brownies and put the hot pan on my cold sink. I would love to avoid it as much as I can.

    • Karen says:

      Oh dear. Exploding glass is such a bad way to end a batch of brownies. Oddly enough it’s really only things that are made for heat like Pyrex that explode like that with temperature change. Regular glass will usually just crack and break as opposed to explode. You should be fine with lighting your pit if it’s in 40 degree weather. The glass will gradually warm up from the flame. As long as your fire pit is as large as mine, which keeps the glass quite a ways away from the actual flame you won’t have another brownie incident. My glass gets warm but it isn’t so hot that you can’t touch it. Give it a go! I should say that if you bring the fire pit inside (which is totally doable) the Real Flame does stink a tiny bit. They say it doesn’t … but it does. The BEST part about Real Flame gel cans is they actually crackle like a fire! So try and get that brand if you can. Good luck! ~ karen

  48. If you want a cheap round fire pit, may I suggest another cheap alternative: the inside metal basket of your washing machine! This is my hubby’s trick. You can find them at places that sell used appliances. We got our for free (the washing machine it belonged to was broken). We placed it in position in the center of our backyard patio, stacked bricks around it, and it was done. Instant wood-burning fire pit!

  49. Karen says:

    Another Karen as smart and resourceful as me!!! I even have blonde hair too, but you got the pretty genes, probably bedazzled too!
    Looking forward to your emails and I am also trying to think of some glass tube that I dont have to glue over my mostly round planters. Hmmmm????!!! Keep using that noodle, so it doesnt dry out. : )

  50. So amazing! Thanks so much for sharing, it’s gorgeous!!

  51. Schafblick says:

    Thank you so much for the inspiration. We made ours this weekend:

    The hardest thing is indeed to find a suitable container at the end of november. We got lucky at the third store, but we had to overlap the glass panes a little bit.

    • Karen says:

      I’m so impressed!!! Not only that you a good job, but that you did it at all! I’m impressed that a lot of the people who read this website, actually take the initiative to go out and do the “stuff” I show. Thanks for linking the picture. I love it when people send photos of their completed projects. You made my day! ~ karen!

  52. fierrry says:

    This is PERFECT! I just got a brand new loft with a beautiful deck and it’s the middle of winter (snow)! Aaahhhhhh! Soo perfect. I love you!!!!


  53. Steph says:

    Hey Karen, this is by far the best DIY project I’ve ever seen. Thanks for coming up with it.

    I found a metal planter that measures 9.75L x 7W x 4.75H inches. In your opinion, is that too small? Would the flames be too close to the glass? For comparison, what are the dimensions of your planter? Would love to avoid making the glass too hot.

    Thank you!!

  54. Jen says:

    Just the other day I was talking about how much I’d like to have the Iittala indoor fireplace that goes for a whopping $1300 — so happy I found this even better and cheaper version. And it totally fits my bargain-hunting and DIY personality. I blogged about it here — thanks for the great idea!

  55. rb says:

    looks great/easy/cheap – BUT
    what the post doesn’t tell you is that:
    1) the glass you’re going to get in most inexpensive picture frames is going to be super-thin and impossible to glue w/o breaking
    2) You can’t buy Real Flame in lots of less than 12, making a purchase of the $4 canisters $48 – oh, and you can’t find them in any store
    3) nobody seems to carry square planters (or any planters for that matter) off-season.

    • Karen says:

      rb – Sorry to hear you’ve had trouble with this but as the person who wrote this post I feel I need to defend it.

      I’ve made several of these and so have other people I’ve known. Thus far I don’t know anyone who has broken the glass while siliconing it. I’m not even sure how that’s possible w/out dropping it.
      As I stated in the post and the comment section I bought the Real Flame in single cans at my local hardware store (Rona). Obviously I can’t guarantee they are sold this way around the entire world, but it definitely is possible to buy Real Flame in single cans.
      I just left my local garden centre from getting a Christmas tree and they still had rows of metal planters for sale (at 75% off). They also had square terra cotta ones.

      So, as I said, I’m truly am sorry if you’re having trouble with this, but I felt I had to set the record straight. I do not under any circumstances post anything that is misleading or untrue.

      – karen

  56. Eve says:

    Amazing now added your site to my favs!!! Thank you for helping me fill up some of my free time! Ha well I’ll now find some for your awesome shared talent!

  57. Shauna says:

    I am an avid blog reader as well as a blogger. You are hands-down, my favorite! Great DIY projects that I would actually want in my home, funny and witty instructions/dialogue and everything laid out so nicely. I have wasted a lot of time this Friday afternoon at work – because Fridays aren’t for working, they’re just for looking pretty – at least that’s what I like to tell my bosses;) So far, they believe me.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Shauna! That’s quite a compliment. I just went and took a look at your blog. Very cute! I love the printable stuff. Well, I should let you get back to not doing work … ~ karen

  58. Soraya says:

    Hi! thanks for that idea, i was earning for a little gel fireplace, but now I will have a nicer and cheaper fireplace. Thanks for your post!!

  59. John C says:

    great idea, thanks for sharing. I like the idea of an indoor fire.

  60. Jane says:

    Hi Karen, I love this and am planning to copy it a.s.a.p – so thank you:) Do you know if it’s possible to burn alcohol in a metal container inside, rather than use the real flame gel? I would like a cheap substitute and don’t think that RF is all that different from isopropyl alcohol – though, I can’t find squat about it on the net, so I am probably way off. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Jane – I did all kinds of research on what else you could burn if you couldn’t find Real Flame and I do remember something about isopropyl alcohol. However, I also remember it wasn’t a good idea to burn it for some reason. In fact … now that I think back on it … I tried it. It burned a little as I recall, but for some reason it was “bad”. Can’t recall exactly why other than … it was bad. Sorry! LOL. If you can find it the Real Flame is worth the $2 or $3 a can. It isn’t like isopropyl alcohol. It’s a gel. It doesn’t smell too bad, plus it crackles! ~ karen!

      • Jane says:

        Thanks for your sage advice:) I will very likely follow it even though I am am sorely tempted* by this:

        *No idea why, since chemistry was never my thing!

        • Karen says:

          Jane – I watched the video! Now I wanna try it! However … like he said, it ends up being around $2 a can so it’ll end up costing around the same amount of money as buying a can of the real stuff. Looks like fun to try though! ~ karen

  61. Jacqueline says:

    I absolutely love your idea Karen and can’t wait to try it!! I’m such a pyro too! I didn’t know it was so simple to create a glass box. Now you’ve got my wheels turning with all the possibilities of what could be put inside of a glass box. Very creative!

  62. Jennifer says:

    Wow! That is so much better than the expensive ideas/pre-made ones I’ve seen! Genius!!!!! Definitely making this when we will hopefully start renting a house this summer 😀

  63. Rob says:

    Hi Karen, greetings from Ireland. I was wondering if these planters would give off much heat? Say you had one in the garden on the ground with 5 people sitting round it comfortably, without crouding it, do you think there would be much warmth?

    thanks Rob

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rob! Um, no. I’m afraid these things wouldn’t give off much heat, especially outdoors. If you want something to give heat, you’d have to have a “real” wood burning firepit. This is more of a *pretty* firepit, as opposed to a roast some marshmallows firepit. Great. Now I’m thinking about roasted marshmallows. ~ karen

  64. Jules says:

    Hi Karen- I am finally attacking this- took me a while to find a container I liked! Question for you- do you think I could use the gel fuel that comes in a bottle and just fill up an empty sterno container to burn it in? just wanted to get your take..thank you for ALL your inspiration!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jules – Yay! Glad you found a container! Chances are the gel fuel that comes in a bottle is meant for heating food. It probably won’t have any flame. If it is designed specifically for fireplaces, I don’t see any reason you couldn’t put it in a sterno container though! ~ karen

  65. Julie Cucinotta says:

    thank you for the input! Nope its not for food and does make a flame so Im going with it..hopefully i do not burn anything down..Im a but of a pyro myself!


  66. Jessica says:

    Uh…this is AMAZING! I’m SO going to do this! Thanks for the awesome tutorial.

    • Karen says:

      You’re very welcome Jessica! It is fun thing to have around! I plan on doing a variation on it this summer! Watch for it. :) ~ karen

  67. Kim Tucker says:

    Love this idea. I’m thinking i may make these for Christmas Presents this year….. shhhhh don’t tell anyone.

  68. Sanjay says:

    I am a bit of a pyro myself – I WANT ONE!!!

    (also forwarded it to my brother – he is going to love this as a cheap fire safe option)

  69. Bill Grigg says:

    Hey, they featured this article on Lifehacker!

    You’ve been Lifehacked. Well done!

  70. Jaime says:

    Hey Karen…I’m wondering if you could use recycled glass instead of the rocks. Any thoughts?
    Thanks, Jaime

    • Karen says:

      Jaime – I’m gonna have to be honest with you here. I have no idea! Regardless of whether you use rocks or not, you have to be careful with whatever you use. With the rocks I make sure to keep them away from direct flame. I leave a rock free circle in the centre of the grate. I really have no idea about the properties of recycled glass. Normal glass only breaks with a change in temperature, I’m not sure about recycled glass. Sorry! ~ karen

  71. Carol-Anne says:

    Great job Karen! Do you leave yours outside all the time? If so, what do you put over it to keep all the rain we’ve been having out of it? I made one yesterday. I made a complete mess of the silicone and I’m not thrilled with my container; I think it’s a bit too high :-( This one will be my practice piece until I find a better planter.

    • Karen says:

      Carol-Anne – Water is a pain. For now my pit is under a covered porch. You have to take it in like you would cushions outside. I actually don’t leave mine outside all the time, I bring it in and out. ~ karen

  72. John says:

    I really want to make this, it looks amazing

  73. Sharon says:

    OMG! Thank you so very much for sharing such a cool and unexpensive idea to create a small fire pit that can decorate both indoor/ outdoor home. I can’t wait to start, and I’m sure that when my friends see it they’re gonna want one too! LUV IT :)

  74. mark says:

    This is well cool, bet its not that easy to build… i wish i had that in my house. so cool

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Mark. And no. It’s not that easy to build. Considering it’s just a series of boxes, really. Plus, well … I’ve never built something to “structure”-like. Planter beds and decks are one thing. A building is something else entirely! ~ k

  75. Cynthia says:

    I’m in total love with this idea and your site! Where the heck have I been? I have a built in area in my living room that is meant for one of those large screen tv’s that were popular several years ago. I’ve been dreaming of turning the space into a faux fireplace. Not sure how to pull it off, but this post is great inspiration.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Cynthia! I have no idea where you’ve been, but I’m glad you found the blog. I can use all the readers I can get. Thanks for stopping by! ~ karen

  76. Erika says:

    This would look so amazing on the patio in the backyard that I will eventually get around to building. Someday. After the upper lawn is leveled away from the house. And after I collect enough stepping stones/bricks/pavers. Meanwhile, I also thought it would look really good on the patio of one of my clients, so forwared the link to her. She’s much more likely to get to it relatively immediately. Thanks!

  77. niki says:

    what are the measurements of the glass/container? this looks AWESOME! Thanks Karen!

  78. mark says:

    Grest fire place i must say

  79. Stuart says:

    Awesome fire pit, this looks amazing!

    …It makes my £100 steel one look terrible!

    The next sunny weekend I will be making one of these :-)

    Thanks for the superb tutorial 😀

  80. Sandy says:

    Greetings, Karen, from a fellow Canuck! This idea is superb! I was hankering for a firepit like the one from solus decor (see old link): — They are from British Columbia. Pricey, of course, and then there is shipping…

    My sister is moving into her 1st house mid October… This would make an awesome housewarming present (pun intended, but true!)

    One more thought: This would add a little bit to the price, but stained glass / slumped glass places also have some very nice clear (uncoloured) glasses that come in different textures, such as waves. You could easily cut out rectangular glass with a glass cutter, or maybe they will cut out your four pieces if you ask them nicely. The textured glass on 1, or all 4 sides, might add an interesting effect.

  81. Jae8888 says:

    Love this idea. It will be assembled next weekend. Love your site and the ideas within it.

  82. Jessica says:

    Can you use it inside or will it set of the smoke detector? Or is that just dangerous anyways?

    • Karen says:

      Jessica – You can absolutely use it inside but obviously you have to be careful around it. It’s more dangerous than a candle not as dangerous as a drunk person smoking on your couch. Also the gel fuel can have a bit of an odour. ~ karen!

  83. Lisa Aurora says:

    Absolutely LOVE this. Me & my husband are definitely planning on making this. So cheap to make but it looks expensive/modern! Congrats, awesome awesome awesome!

  84. Dana says:

    That is a GREAT idea!!! I want a fire pit, but hate the smoke! Don’t really need something that gives out heat since I live in coastal Florida/ So “fire pit conflicted”. This is perfect!!

    • Karen says:

      Dana – Excellent! The other great thing about the “Real Flame” if you can find it is it crackles like a fire. I love that! ~ karen

  85. shelby says:

    Man, I tell ya, finding a square planter that is just right has been a task! The other day, I went on a “quest” to find said planter. After 5 stores with 3 kids under 4, I was waving my white flag. I ended up finding a planter that was 8X8, but that made me a little nervous. So, I got a different one that measures 12X12. And its going to be super tall because there are no planters I could find here or across the internet that were short like the one you used. :( And the people at home depot and Lowes looked at me like I was from another planet when I inquired where their gel fuel in a can was. I ended up getting some off of the internet. But I am so very excited to finish this :) Despite my whining. Thank you for the great idea!

  86. Jae8888 says:

    Someone asked me if you can glue flooring tile together[(5-12″X 12″) one on bottom and 4 for the sides], then add the glass panes to the top to make the tabletop firepit. I said, “Let me ask the expert and I’ll get back with you”. So,what do you think?

    • Karen says:

      Jae888 – I’m not positive, but I’m not sure you could get the tiles to be sturdy enough so that you could move it from place to place. Depends on what you use to adhere it I suppose. Other than that I can’t see any reason why floor tiles technically wouldn’t work! ~ karen

  87. Nick says:

    I could not find a square planter anywhere! I had to use my imagination and find something else that could work. I went with a 8x8x8 concrete square block. I paid $1.75 for it! I picked up 4(8×10) picture frames, The grate and the rocks at the dollar store. I used the wood frames to build a lip around the top of the block to give it a better look. I have A LOT of beer caps saved up and i’m going to stick them all around the sides of my concrete block. I also couldn’t find the gel fuel so I am using a Tiki torch flame can. It’s cheaper, burns longer, and fits perfect! Thanks for the idea Karen! I’m actually working on it now. Spent UNDER $20!

  88. Kayce says:

    hey, where the heck did you find a metal planter?

    • Karen says:

      Kayce – I found the planter at a local store. Most garden centres have metal planters now. Don’t forget you can also use terra cotta! Anything that won’t burst into flames, basically. ~ karen

  89. Jennifer says:

    We just build an enclosed porch and we need to warm it up. Does you think this will emit enough heat to warm a small room? Say 15 x 12 feet??? Its beautiful either way! I love it

    • Karen says:

      Hi jennifer! I’m afraid the pit won’t warm things up that much. :( If need be however, I’ve used a very small electric fan heater in my kitchen for the past few years and those babies *really* work. Good luck! ~ karen

  90. Brittany Duncan says:

    This is so totally awesome! If I ever get a lil extra money, I am so doing this! It looks so easy and I really want a Fire Pit for the front porch. What do you think, isn’t it beautiful!?

  91. Kaitlin says:

    Do they still sell the planters around you? I have looked almost everywhere and am now currently doing everything to find one online. Just wanted to see if there was a website to the store that you found yours at.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kaitlin – No, I got the last planter like it. It was just from a small local store. Don’t forget you can use a terra cotta planter. Anything that won’t burst into flames actually. Base the size of your planter around the size of the glass you find. Good luck! ~ karen!

  92. Kaitlin says:

    Also, do you know the deminsions of your planter?

  93. Nathalie says:

    Hey Karen where did you buy your real gel? I can only find similar gels in Green Earth stores. Thanks.

  94. Kelly says:

    Hello! Do you think a very large or standard fish tank would do. I have three sitting around here and since we are NOT getting any more fish…for now.. thought I could use one of the tanks.

    You may have already answered this question in your comments. If you don’t mind will you please answer again. I’m worried about the glass breaking. But with fish tanks having tempered glass I should be okay, right?

    Thanks a bunch,

    Kelly, Raleigh, NC

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kelly! Tempered glass is actually more dangerous than regular glass in terms of it “exploding”. However, having said that, as long as the tank is large enough that the flame doesn’t get close to it or touch it, it should be fine. The only problem is, doesn’t the fish tank have a bottom on it? For this to work, you need something that has only glass sides, and no bottom. ~ karen!

  95. Becky says:

    So I was thinking, if you got a metal planter deep enough you could us the little fuel you put in tiki torches. Don’t those things burn forever? They are refillable too!

    • Karen says:

      Becky – You could use paraffin oil but you do have to use it with a wick. You can’t just light it on fire. ~ karen!

      • Cheryl says:

        Idea if you cant find gel fuel: You can buy an empty one quart paint can at a local paint or home improvement store. Then take one roll of toilet paper and remove the cardboard. Squeeze the tp roll into the new clean paint can and pour rubbing alcohol over the tp till it is completely saturated. All you have to do when it burns out is add more alcohol (*The tp acts as your wick and will not burn as long as it is saturated, *do not pour more alcohol on while it’s burning already, * if you blow out the fire before all the alcohol is burned off you may need to find a way to get the paint can lid back on so the alcohol does not totally evaporate). Works great for an emergency camp stove also.

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