What to Know About Fire Pit Rings

Create a safer, more convenient backyard gathering spot with a versatile fire pit ring.

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Who doesn’t like a peaceful outdoor fire on a chilly evening? It’s a welcome sight, whether you wish to host a sing-a-long with friends or simply commune with only your thoughts to keep you company. The simplest way to enjoy a fire in your backyard is with an outdoor fire pit ring.

What Is a Fire Pit Ring?

An outdoor fire pit ring, also known as a campfire ring, is a fire-proof framework set directly on the ground to contain a fire. Its primary task is to prevent fires from spreading outside the perimeter and accidentally starting a wildfire.

Types of Fire Pit Rings

Although always utilitarian, some fire pit rings are also decorative. While it’s true you can stick with a simple black metal ring, many fire pit rings feature cutouts of everything from trees, birds and wildlife to fairies, stars and moons.

As the name suggests, rings are usually round, although some feature hexagonal or octagonal shapes. In addition, some fire pit rings are collapsible and portable, so you can take them camping or simply store them when campfire season is over.

Outdoor fire pit rings are typically 36 to 44 inches in diameter a good size for backyard fires rather than larger bonfires. These rings are usually made from powder-coated, rusty or galvanized steel. Prices for fire pit rings range from less than $40 to well over $200.

Bowls and Fire Pit Kits

Metal bowls are a step up from a simple fire pit ring. Set on legs to raise up the flames, they feature protective screens to corral sparks before they cause problems outside the fire pit ring.

Some fire pit rings are set within decorative masonry. For example, an all-in-one DIY kit features a ring and surrounding retaining wall blocks, which provide a more finished look when assembled. The ring has a practical role: It keeps fire from drying out the pavers and causing them to crack. Another option is to build your backyard fire pit and use firebricks instead.

Pros and Cons

Fire pit rings are indeed practical not just for containing a fire but also offering a visual clue of a fire’s maximum size. This keeps a modest campfire from becoming a large and possibly unpredictable bonfire. It keeps round logs from rolling off the fire and into the surrounding area, where they might cause a wildfire.

Fire pit rings also offer a good entertaining space to gather together with others for fun and fellowship. When not in use, a fire pit ring can double as a small raised garden bed when filled with soil mix.

As for cons, ashes need to be removed from time to time, and fire pit rings may need to be covered when it rains to prevent a sloppy mess. Fire pit rings become extremely hot and can be dangerous. In 2017 U.S. emergency rooms treated at least 5,300 injuries related to fire pits or outdoor heaters, nearly triple the number reported in 2008, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Safety Considerations

Fire safety is an important consideration when using a fire ring. Place the ring on a level site that is a good 10 to 20 feet away from buildings and overhanging trees.

It’s a good idea to make sure the fire ring isn’t too close to any plants, as the heat could damage them. A base of crushed stone beneath and around the fire ring is also a good idea, as it promotes drainage and keeps the base from becoming a slippery, mucky mess when it rains. Be sure to know and follow proper fire pit safety before using your fire pit.

Luke Miller
Luke Miller is an award-winning garden editor with 25 years' experience in horticultural communications, including editing a national magazine and creating print and online gardening content for a national retailer. He grew up across the street from a park arboretum and has a lifelong passion for gardening in general and trees in particular. In addition to his journalism degree, he has studied horticulture and is a Master Gardener.