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A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling,
passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
A fire pit can be a great addition to your outdoor space. The hypnotic dancing flames emanating from this fire hole can revamp any boring backyard into a delightful chilling spot for your family and friends.
What is even more intriguing is that you can use your fire pit for all sorts of activities. Apart from keeping you and your friends warm, a fire pit is ideal for lighting up your outdoor space at night, thus saving up on electricity. You can also use these earth ovens in place of a grill for your nighttime barbecues.
The best part is that you have so many fuel options for your fire hole, ranging from wood to natural gas to propane. Apparently, more and more people are moving away from the traditional wood-burning fire pits to natural gas and propane fire pits.
This post delves specifically into propane fire pits, and it seeks to answer the big question – are propane fire pits safe? Let’s find out.
What is a Propane Fire Pit?
A propane fire pit is similar to a traditional campfire or a wood-burning fire hole. However, the pit consists of a synthetic wood-like or lava rock interior that helps contain the fire within the ring.
Many homeowners prefer propane pits
since they are simple and very easy to light – you can ignite your propane fire pit with the flip of a switch. Unlike other types of fire pits, you can also control the size of the flame and the amount of heat to your desired temperature.
If you’re looking for a firepit that fits any outdoor space, one of the best choices is getting a propane type because it comes in different styles and sizes and extremely portable.
How Propane Fire Pits Work?
Propane fire pits work virtually the same way like any other traditional fire hole. However, instead of using natural wood or gas for fuel, these pits use propane to operate. The pit consists of a propane tank that connects to a burner via a metal gas line.
When you light up the fire pit, the burner will release propane gas automatically at regular intervals through several holes punctured along the tube, as it works to keep you warm.
The fire pit comes equipped with an air mixer that ensures propane mixes with air appropriately to light the pit and prevent the formation of soot. It also does come with a fuel valve that controls the flow of propane into the pit from the tank.
Are Propane Fire Pits Safe?
For starters, the interior and the area surrounding the pit are made using special fireproof materials such as concrete, stone, ceramic, lava rock or heat-resistant glass to ensure the fire only burns within the designated area.
As mentioned earlier, the fire pit features a fuel valve that controls the flow of propane to the burner. This valve releases propane gas in intervals to ensure that just the right amount of fuel reaches the burner, hence reducing the chances of fire accidents.
In addition, all the connections that transport propane gas from the tank to the burner are made from durable materials such as metal to prevent possible leakages. And since propane is a flammable, liquefied gas, modern propane fire pits come with a leak-proof tank installed away from the burner.
The hallmark of these fire pits is their smoke-free design. Unlike wood-burning fire pits that release carbon dioxide and other harmful gases, propane fire pits tend to burn clean - they virtually don’t emit any smoke or odors. This comes in handy if you are struggling with smoke allergies and sensitivities.
Another important safety feature integrated in a propane fire pit is the ignition switch that allows for safe and easy lighting. With this safety ignition switch, you do not need a match to light your fire pit. Some pits also come with a shutdown valve that automatically closes the connection to the propane tank in case the burner is not producing flames.
As much as propane fire pits are safe, we all agree that accidents do happen. Using your fire pit inappropriately and failure to take safety precautions could expose you and your family to potential harm.
Although they come with numerous safety features, fire pits are not playpens. These pits use highly flammable gas to operate, and what might seem like a small, harmless flame might get out of control and quickly turn into a major disaster.
With this in mind, you have to take urgent steps to protect your household from accidental fires. Here are a few helpful safety tips to observe when using a propane fire pit.
1. Always select a safe spot for installation
Where you set up your propane fire pit is of utmost importance as far as safety is concerned. Ideally, you should install your fire pit outdoors in a clean and clutter-free site.
The spot you choose should be at least 20 feet away from standing structures and any flammable materials. Moreover, the surface and the surrounding area should be made from fireproof, heat-resistant materials such as concrete, ceramic or gravel
2. Check the fire pit for leakages
Before igniting your newly installed fire pit, you should check it out for leakages. This should also be part of your routine every time you want to light up your fire pit. Any lose connections and broken lines can be a recipe for disaster, considering that propane is a highly flammable gas and it ignites easily when near any source of fire.
3. Carry out routine cleaning and maintenance regularly
Like any other appliance, you must clean and maintain your propane fire pit regularly if you want it to function optimally. Start by cleaning the burners and the connection pipes to remove dirt build-up and prevent clogging. Make sure you contact a certified technician if you notice any malfunctioning parts that require replacements.
4. Make sure you have adequate ventilation
For your propane fire pit to work safely, you must ensure the surrounding area has sufficient ventilation. Apparently, propane gas has to mix with air (oxygen) in order to produce flames through a process called combustion. Without adequate airflow, propane will build up at ground level and pose a risk of ignition.
5. Avoid wearing loose and flammable clothes
Certain fabrics such as linen, nylon and polyester are prone to catching fire very quickly. With this in mind, you should urge everyone who intends to gather around the fire pit to avoid these fabrics for their own safety. Wearing loose clothing can also pose a safety hazard, and for this reason, you should wear tight-fitting clothes such as jeans when lounging around the fire pit.
6. Put off the pit in case you notice heavy smoke
One of the reasons why propane fire pits are widely popular is that they have a smoke-free design, and they do not emit any odors. Therefore, if you notice any heavy smoke coming from the fire pit then it means that something is terribly wrong. You should extinguish the fire immediately and call a professional to inspect the pit accordingly.
7. Install a fire extinguisher nearby
Always have a fire extinguisher nearby in case things turn awry and the fire gets out of control. Alternatively, you can keep a garden hose or a bucket of sand if a fire extinguisher is beyond your reach.
The Pros and Cons
Propane fire pits come with their fair share of upsides and downsides. However, the upsides certainly outweigh the few shortcomings. With that said, here are the pros and cons of installing a propane fire pit in your outdoor space.
Final Thoughts: Is It Really Safe?
Propane fire pits are extremely safe if the above arguments are anything to go by. Besides, these modern fire holes come with dozens of safety features designed to protect you and your household from any accidents or potential harm. However, safety starts with you and you should take urgent precautions to avoid turning your warm, cozy evening around the fire pit into a terrible disaster.
When your making your own fire pit, following the safety standards and designs mentioned above should also be followed.
Read more: Roasting marshmallows in your fire pit.