You probably don’t think you need a personal fire pit. And you’re right. Although come to think of it, fire is an essential element. I’m rethinking this – it’s possible you really DO need a personal fire pit. You just don’t need a massive expensive one. A little tabletop cheap fire pit? You could probably use one of those.
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”.
I light fires in the fireplace every night here in the old Casa de Karen from October until April. 6 or 7 face cords go flying up that chimney every year. But as deep and strong as my love of the log runs, I couldn’t bring myself to buy an outdoor firepit when they first came out.
They were hilariously expensive at the time and really in my climate not all that useful. In the last decade or so the weather in Canada has changed.
We used to get Spring. Spring is now a fleeting moment that takes place between the hours of 4 and 5 p.m. in late May. When we wake up the next morning our guts have liquified and the garbage cans have maggots crawling out of them.
Once the season for fire rolls around it happens almost as instantly. And by then I want to be inside laying on the sofa 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.
But still. There are 3 or 4 weeks when it makes sense to have a little personal fire pit outside.
So what was a pyromaniac girl like me to do when it’s cool out, but not cool enough to trap myself in the house all night with my cat, tv remote 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. I used to say it’s a lot nicer than any fire pit you’ve seen for sale in stores, but now that 10 years has passed since I originally made this fire pit a lot of stores are carrying ones that look – how do I say this – completely identical.
Here we gooooooo …
How to Make a Personal Fire Pit
Materials you Need
- Marine Silicone
- Small rocks
- 4 pieces of glass (I bought 4 cheap picture frames from Dollarama and used the glass from those)
- Metal Mesh
- Gel Fuel (recommended) or 70%+ isopropyl alcohol
- Square planter (with a bit of a lip on it)
Step #1 – Making a Glass Box
You need to make a glass box. To do that just run a bead of silicone around the edges of your glass, and place them together.
Do two sides first and hold them in place somehow until they dry.
Position them so your final side will be easy to silicone.
Run another bead of silicone and place your last piece of glass.
When you’re placing your glass, try to be a bit careful about it. You don’t want to smear the silicone around on the glass because it’s a HUGE pain to get off. Just take your time.
Run a final bead of silicone all around the bottom edge of your newly created (because you’re kind of great) glass box.
Flip the box over then place the siliconed edge on top of the metal planter, making sure there’s enough edge in the middle left over for some metal mesh to rest on it.
Update: Everyone seems to be in fits over the fact that the glass will EXPLODE from the heat. It doesn’t. I’m not going to say it never will but 1) only tempered glass EXPLODES. This isn’t tempered glass. 2) Glass breaks through stress either from dropping it or by extreme, fast temperature changes. Neither of which you should have with this project. 3) Thin glass is less likely to break from stress than thick glass. ** I know that seems counterintuitive.
Step 2: Making the pit.
Your box is made so now you move onto cutting your mesh that will fit inside. The only purpose of the mesh is to support some rocks, which in turn hide the fuel can beneath.
Once your piece of mesh is cut your structure is complete and you just have to “build” the fire.
Put an opened can of gel fuel into the centre of your fire pit. If you’re using Isopropyl Alcohol pour some into a leakproof metal container like an old, clean paint can.
Rest the mesh on the inside edge of the planter.
Finally, start putting down your rocks to cover the hideous mesh. If you’re using rocks that you aren’t sure about don’t put them directly over the flame. Rocks with moisture in them can explode as can shaley rocks.
Update: since writing this post originally, fire pit rocks have become available. They’re 100% safe so you don’t need to worry about keeping the rocks away from the flame.
Step 3 – Light your fire
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 visible 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.
Use common sense. Don’t wander off, leaving this burning and never EVER try to refill it when it’s still burning. Snuff out the fire and make sure that it isn’t hot or burning before refuelling. Otherwise you can create a firebomb. You can see that here.
That’s it! That’s all it takes to make your own personal fire pit. $25, about an hour, and a piece of spaghetti.
Update: A lot of people are having trouble finding a metal planter similar to mine. Remember you can also use terra cotta or ceramic.