The crackle of fire and mesmerizing tango of flames do more than extend the season for backyard living rooms. They're also therapeutic, as long as you enjoy them safely. (And please, if you...
The crackle of fire and mesmerizing tango of flames do more than extend the season for backyard living rooms. They’re also therapeutic, as long as you enjoy them safely. (And please, if you have an outdoor fire, do extinguish it before Santa arrives.)
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Products fueling the cozy outdoor movement are heated by gas, electricity, wood, pellets and propane and can cost from $50 to more than $2,000, depending on the bells and whistles. Chimineas and copper-bowl burners can be found for as little as $50. And a gas-powered fireplace combining fountain and flames by Travis Industries starts at $2,500. Some folks choose in-ground traditional fire pits incorporated into their landscaping by professional rock masters; others snap up portables or full-scale fireplaces.
How to use them
Never use flammable liquids or starter fluids. Instead, try a small fire-starter log.
Always put a chiminea on a stone, sand or concrete surface or a noncombustible pad, never on a wood surface or against a wood fence, wall or deck.
Some retailers recommend adding a 2- or 3-inch layer of sand in the bottom of a chiminea. Place small logs on top of the sand.
Use the 36-inch rule on any fireplace, especially deck units: Make sure it’s at least 3 feet from railings, walls, fences, siding and sheds, with no overhang.
Use well-seasoned, dry wood to avoid excessive smoke. Sawdust-and-paraffin logs are clean and low-sparkers.
Start with a small fire. You always can make it bigger.
If you are burning wood, use a screen, spark guard and noncombustible surface.
Contact the nearest firehouse to learn about necessary codes and restrictions.
Never use a chiminea or outdoor unit inside the house.
Keep kids, pets and clumsy guests away from the fire source.
Have a garden hose or fire extinguisher handy just in case. (But beware: Putting out fires with water can crack some chimineas and fire pits.)
Empty ashes to avoid build-up and keep air flowing.
The Cincinnati Enquirer, Knight Ridder Newspapers