Can You Burn Wood in a Gas Fire Pit

By Mike

October 23, 2020

The comfort and luxury of a backyard fire pit comes with safety concerns. As a homeowner, your first question will be, “can you burn wood in a gas fire pit?” If it isn’t your first question, it probably should be! All that luxury won’t amount to much if you can’t keep your guests and family safe.

After doing a little research, I quickly found out that the answer is “no.” You can’t burn wood in a gas fire pit. Wood burns at an intense heat that can damage a gas fire pit, which wasn’t built to handle the “flare” of wood fuel. Wood-burning fire pits are built specifically to handle that heat.

If you have a gas fire pit, you can’t use wood as fuel. However, if you’re still deciding which kind of pit to build, you might be wondering about the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Since either would be a sizable investment in the comfort and luxury of your home, you should know how to choose one based on your preferences and needs. I’m going to break it down for you.

Now that you know they aren’t interchangeable, read on to learn how to choose between a wood-burning and a gas fire pit.

What to Burn in Your Fire Pit

Whichever fire pit you choose, you’re going to need a steady fuel supply and the storage space required to suit your preferences.

Wood fire pits are usually built larger in order to disperse the intense heat. They also require a different kind of storage. Your high-quality wood supply won’t do you any good if you store it somewhere that could get wet, which can lead to rot and termites. 

Since some of you are beginners and need to know the basics of owning a new fire pit, know this: wood fire pits need dry wood. If you burn wet logs, expect to get smoke in your eye (and the eyes of your guests!).

Gas fire pits use natural gas or propane for fuel, which requires room for the tank. They come in sizes ranging from 15 to 100 gallons, so you may need a sizable space to store it.

Here’s something else to keep in mind. Most of us install fire pits for the beauty and comfort they provide. A 100-gallon gas tank is an eyesore that can overrule the charm of your fire pit. 

So if you opt for a gas fire pit, plan to landscape for the tank as well so you can hide it cleverly and not compromise the beautiful effect of your patio.

Gas vs Wood Burning Fire Pits

Whether you’re concerned about your carbon footprint or about saving your own time and energy, efficiency and convenience are two major factors of comparison between wood and gas fire pits.

What you need to know is this: gas fire pits are a more efficient option, both in terms of energy consumption and the time you’ll spend starting your fire. Natural gas burns more cleanly than wood. It also lights and heats your outdoor patio more efficiently.

A steady gas supply creates a steady heat source at the push of a button. For better and worse, wood fire pits require you to start the fire yourself and replenish it with new logs when you need to.

Wood fires are certainly less convenient, but they have a rustic charm that I don’t think should go unmentioned. Many of us would rather start a fire with our own hands, manually control the heat and light, and let the flame burn down naturally. 

Wood fire pits crackle and smell like the outdoors. Storing gas on the premises could be ugly or worrisome compared to a clean wood stack, especially if you can’t landscape your yard properly to accommodate it.

Which Fire Pit is Easiest to Install

Since you can’t burn wood in a gas fire pit, you need to be able to run gas lines to it, which requires a contractor and extra installation time. If time is your main concern, though, both wood and gas fire pits require a lot of investment, though with different activities.

For a gas pit, you’re going to be landscaping for the pit and tank with the help of a professional, waiting while they build it for you, and running the gas lines to the heat source (make sure they’re out of the way of common walking paths from the house!). None of this is required for a wood fire pit, which is relatively simple compared to a gas one.

It’s so simple that you could do it yourself. A wood fire pit only needs to have a metal frame to contain the heat, layered with stone or brick, and built a good distance from your home in case something goes wrong. 

Of course, balancing these materials, designing the pit, and constructing it is a significant DIY undertaking. Unless you’re Ron Swanson, even a wood fire pit will likely still require the use of a professional.

And remember: you still have to acquire (or chop) and store all that wood.

Are Fire Pits Hard to Maintain

As for maintenance, you won’t be burning wood in gas fire pits, so there’s no debris like ash and logs to clean up. With wood fires, it’s important to know the risks of unclean pits and the maintenance required to keep it safe for your family and home.

You’ll need to shovel out the soot and debris semi-regularly to prevent creosote from forming, which is a tarry substance made from repeatedly burning wood fire debris. Once it forms, it can produce harmful chemical smoke that isn’t safe to breathe. 

Neglecting to clean a wood fire pit can also put your yard and house at risk, since leftover wood and debris can smolder and set a new fire if you’re not careful.

While gas fire pits are safer in general, a gas leak would be disastrous. This means that regular professional maintenance of the line is something that owners of gas fire pits have to consider as a mandatory safety precaution.

Can Fire Pits Add Value to Home

The value of your gas or wood fire pit depends on your preferences. While wood fire pits are debatably less safe, they also make beautiful fixtures to any property. Both a gas and wood fire pit will raise the value of a property, but wood fire pits may be a more attractive fixture because of their stone inlays and rustic implications.

Gas fire pits are more eco-friendly, though, so that may attract a certain kind of buyer. Either way, a fire pit represents a high return on a house and helps people sell properties more quickly and increase the value of their home.

Are Fire Pits Legal

You’ve asked yourself if you can burn wood in a gas fire pit, but some areas don’t allow you to burn anything. Some local ordinances prevent you from setting fires in open pits or at certain times of the year. Most pit permits also denote a minimum safe distance between the pit and other structures, so make sure your contractor knows that.

Conclusion

Can you burn wood in a gas fire pit? The answer is no, for several reasons: gas fire pits are often not inlaid with brick or stone to contain wood-burning fires and they aren’t built to be full of ash and soot. Gas fire pits have gas lines that require professional maintenance, but they offer direct control over the flame that you can’t get with a natural wood-burning fire pit.

Regardless of which fuel source you pick, use this article to landscape and prepare for the fire pit of your choice. You can’t mix fuel types, but you can take the advantages and disadvantages of each to heart to give your home, family, and guests a dose of natural outdoors comfort with your new fire pit.

About the author

Hi I'm Mike! I'm the owner, writer, and sometimes editor of Foundedproject.com. Being a new homeowner can be a little daunting, which is why I created this blog. I write about problems that a new home owner might run into. 

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