Great Grills & Firepits
Bring your campfire home.
The battery-powered Grizzly Spit takes the 'rough' out of 'roughing it.'
Although scientists aren’t certain exactly when humans learned to use fire, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that it occurred many millennia ago and, as simple as it sounds, that single act has had an ongoing effect on human development that is truly profound.
Fire has been credited with a broad range of success stories, including our ability to live in cold climates and all manner of advanced tool-making skills. But the most powerful human fallout from fire is arguably more social. Since small, controlled fires were used to cook and preserve food, and since they required relatively constant tending, they became a focal point for human interaction. Some anthropologists suggest that fire was key to social evolution and may have been pivotal to the development of spoken language. No wonder we still gather around the campfire to visit with family and friends, sing, contemplate and even, on occasion, cook.
Today, outdoor fires are often associated with, and in some cases relegated to, the recreational activity called camping, and, most of the time, they are built in some type of container or structure called a firepit. In many cases, the pit is actually an above-ground container built of concrete and/or steel, but the firepit can be as simple as a shallow depression in the ground. Creating a safe place to build an outdoor fire at home is no mystery, but relatively few folks thought to do so until fairly recently. This fact might be due in part to open-fire ordinances in various locations, or the lack of a suitable place to dig a traditional firepit. In any case, fire fanatics now have a number of choices for fanning the flame – all of them are safe and most are legal everywhere.
Dig your own
Creating your own old-fashioned in-the-ground firepit isn’t that complicated. The most important piece to the burning question is location. Let common sense (or local ordinance) be your guide, but the firepit ought to be at least 50 feet from the nearest building (farther is better) or other concentrated source of readily combustible material. The state of New Hampshire, which issues permits for all open fires, requires that you install your pit (up to 48 inches in diameter) within an eight-foot diameter area that has been cleared of all combustibles.
Although there is much discussion on how deep the firepit should be, I have had good luck with an 8- to 12-inch depth, and since a ready supply of stone is included in the soil on our farm, I use it to line the pit’s sides. If your ground is porous you won’t need to worry about drainage. If clay is your medium, then digging a 12-inch-deep sump in the pit’s center and filling it with gravel will help keep the fire bed dry. Wherever the soil is particularly high in organic matter, especially large tree roots, it’s prudent to line your firepit with several inches of clay, sand or fine gravel to minimize the chance of igniting those roots.
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