A small, steel wood burning fire pit sitting on the edge of a rock with a lake view in the background.

Wood Burning Fire Pit Buying Guide

Discover the best wood fire pit design, material, and accessories for your outdoor space 

Last Updated: September 12, 2023

A wood burning fire pit is the closest thing you can get to a campfire on your patio. If you like the idea of an open flame, the sound of crackling embers, and the smokey aroma of burning wood, there's no substitute for a classic wood fire pit.  

In addition to real fires, intense heat, and soothing ambiance, wood burning fire pits are affordable, easy to set up, and extend the use of your outdoor space well into the chilly autumn season. 

With so many options to choose from, determining the best model for your space can be a challenge. To help you narrow down your options, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide that breaks down each wood burning fire pit style, how to choose an installation location, what kind of firewood you can use, and which accessories will enhance your fireside experience!  


While wood burning fire pits require a bit more effort to use, monitor, and maintain than gas models, most homeowners find that the nostalgic, comforting atmosphere offered only by a real wood fire makes the extra work worthwhile.  

The most notable benefits of a wood burning fire pit include:  

  • Authentic, campfire-like experience  
  • Quick and easy installation  
  • Affordable  
  • The ability to cook over an open fire   

Keep in mind, wood fire pits will create smoke, which may not be suitable for customers with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory conditions.  

You'll need to monitor the wood as it burns, consistently adding logs to maintain the fire and heat output. You’ll also need to watch your fire pit after you put out the flames to make sure it’s completely extinguished.  


Before you choose your new wood fire pit, assess the area you’d like to install it in. You’ll also need to check your city’s local codes and ordinances regarding residential fire pits.

Some areas implement strict “burn bans” during certain times of the year, while other cities and states have outlawed the use of wood fire pits altogether. 

Before you place your new wood burning fire pit in the final location, make sure the area is flat and level.

The amount of clearance you’ll need around the sides of your wood fire pit will depend on how large it is. Generally, you should plan for at least 3 feet of clearance around each side of the fire pit and at least 6 feet above it.  

It’s also important to make sure your wood fire pit is at least 20-25 feet away from your house or other combustible structures and foliage, like sheds, pool houses, trees, and plants.


Wood burning fire pits come in a variety of sizes and shapes, including rectangular, square, round, and oval.

Some models are designed to sit on the ground, while others come with legs or raised bases to elevate the fire.  

Wood Fire Bowls

Wood burning fire bowls are great for backyards and patios with limited space to work with. They feature shallow, coffee table-height designs that arrive fully assembled for a quick and easy installation.  

Some models even have elaborate designs carved into the sides, creating an elegant, artistic focal point that makes your outdoor gathering space even more unique.  

Wood Fire Tables  

Perfect for homeowners who like to invite their friends and family to cozy backyard gatherings, wood burning fire tables boost comfort and function in your outdoor space.  

They feature spacious, chat-height designs with wide ledges, so you can keep your drinks and snacks close-by as you relax around the fire with your guests. 

Wood Fire Rings 

Wood fire rings are bottomless metal or stone structures designed to encircle a campfire that is placed directly on the ground. They prevent logs from rolling out of the fire and catch stray sparks before they can land on nearby objects and people.  

Some models can be used as inserts that are placed in permanent stone backyard fire pits, while other fire rings stand alone.  

Fire rings are perfect for small, temporary fires placed on a non-flammable surface, like dirt, gravel, sand, and stone. They're also extremely portable, so you can take your fire ring to campsites, beaches, and other vacation spots.  

wrench icon Pro Tip:

Because fire pit rings are placed directly on the ground, they are not suitable for grass- covered yards, wooden decks, or patios built with combustible materials.


Wood fire pits are available in a variety of materials, from heavy-duty concrete to shiny copper. The best option will depend on the climate you live in and the amount of time you want to commit to maintenance

Stone and Concrete Wood Fire Pits  

Stone and concrete fire pits are extremely durable and can easily withstand tough weather conditions and any kind of environment, from dry, arid climates to humid, coastal regions.  

Concrete models exude crisp, contemporary style, while stone fire pits are great for masonry detailing, because you can finish your fire pit with the same materials used in your outdoor décor to tie your space together.  

Since stone and concrete are heavy materials, it’s best to choose a permanent location for your stone or concrete wood fire pit. 


Steel Wood Fire Pits  

Steel wood fire pits are very affordable and lightweight. They also come in a variety of luxe, powder-coated finishes to match your outdoor décor and outlast harsh elements.  

Steel is prone to rusting as it sits outside, especially in humid or wet climates. Over time, your steel fire pit will develop a rustic, aged-metal appearance.  


Starting at

Stainless Steel Wood Fire Pits  

If you’re looking for a clean, modern look for your space, consider a stainless steel wood fire pit.  

While stainless steel models cost more than natural steel wood fire pits, they resist rust and corrosion and are a great option for coastal areas.  



Copper Wood Fire Pits  

Copper wood fire pits feature hand-crafted designs that develop a rustic, blue/green patina over time, offering a unique, artisanal look.  

If you prefer a sleek, shiny copper look, follow this guide to safely remove the patina from your wood fire pit without damaging the finish. 




The best type of wood for your fire pit is seasoned hardwood. It's easy to light, produces limited smoke and creosote, and creates longer-lasting flames.  

The most common hardwoods include ash, oak, cherry, pine, and maple

Ash Wood  

Ash wood has a high density and a low moisture content.

While ash wood takes more time to light than other types of wood, it produces clean-burning flames that will last long into the evenings. 

Oak Wood  

While it takes a few years to dry out completely, seasoned oak wood is dense, strong, and very slow burning, which allows you to keep the fire going overnight.

Oak also splits easily, which allows the wood to radiate an impressive amount of heat

Cherry Wood  

Cherry wood lights quickly and burns for a long time, so you can enjoy roaring flames without constantly stoking the fire.

Plus, cherry wood creates a rich and tangy smell, which is excellent for cooking. 

Pine Wood  

If you're looking to maximize the ambiance in your outdoor space, pine wood is an affordable option that offers audible crackling and popping flames.  

Since it burns down quickly, pine wood is best used as kindling for your fire, rather than the main source of wood.

Consider pairing your pine wood with a small, crumpled up piece of newspaper and a log of seasoned ash wood

Maple Wood  

If you plan to do some cooking over your fire pit, using maple wood is the best solution.

It's incredibly dense, guaranteeing a long burn time, and produces sweet-smelling smoke that infuses your food with extra flavor. 


Firewood Racks  

Firewood racks keep your wood supply neatly stacked, while allowing airflow to circulate around and throughout the logs to draw out excess moisture and ensure your wood is properly seasoned for safe burning.  

Some small firewood racks can double as log carriers. These units have sturdy, wrought-iron frames and a removable canvas carrier, allowing you to keep your wood supply within reach and easily replenish the pile when it’s gone. 

You can also purchase a fitted, weatherproof cover for your firewood rack to prevent wear and tear from the elements and keep your logs dry, seasoned, and ready to use.  

Log Carriers  

If you need to transfer firewood from a designated location in your backyard to your wood fire pit, log carriers make the job much easier.  

Made from durable, weather-resistant materials, log carriers allow you to comfortably move large quantities of wood, without handling any sharp or dirty logs.  

Firewood Carts  

Firewood carts allow you to easily move a large pile of wood from one location to another with fewer trips and less energy.

They feature a dolly-like design with a heavy-duty frame and a two- or four-wheeled base.   


There are several accessories and tools available to upgrade your outdoor experience and enhance the safety of your wood fire pit.  

Fire Screens and Spark Guards 

Wood fire pit screens and spark guards sit on top of your fire pit while it’s burning to prevent sparks, embers, and ash from flying out.  

They’re typically designed with steel frames and fireproof mesh sides, so you can still enjoy a clear view of the fire.  



Fatwood is a natural material made from small pieces of wood that are about 8-10 inches long. The material comes from tree stumps that contain resin, a flammable substance that ignites efficiently and safely.  

Break ‘n’ Burn Firestarters

Break ‘n’ Burn firestarters are made from wood chips, recycled newspaper, and paraffin wax.

These non-toxic materials are compressed into small squares that ignite very quickly, providing a safe alternative to natural kindling.  

Lightning Nuggets

Lightning Nuggets are small pieces of pitch wood used in place of natural kindling. They light quickly for a hassle-free fire every time.  


Fire pit grates sit inside of your wood fire pit to hold up the logs.

Keeping your logs elevated while they burn allows the ash to fall through to the bottom, maintaining constant airflow.  

Not all wood fire pits can accommodate a grate, but if one is available for your fire pit, it’s a useful tool that keeps your fires burning much longer.  

If you enjoy the rustic experience of grilling food over open flames, you can also add a cooking grate to your wood fire pit.  

Pokers and Tongs 

Fire pokers and tongs are two essential tools that help you tend to the fire quickly, safely, and efficiently. 

A poker lets you move your logs around and stoke the fire without getting too close to the flames, while tongs allow you to add more logs to the fire and arrange them into position without burning your hands. 


Whether you buy a wood burning fire pit or build one on-site, you’ll need to clean and inspect it for damage regularly.  

We recommend deep cleaning your wood burning fire pit at least once a year in the spring, before you start planning your outdoor gatherings.

If you use your fire pit year-round, it’s best to clean it out every six months.  

Follow our in-depth maintenance guide to keep your wood fire pit burning safely and efficiently for many seasons to come. 


Need some help choosing the best wood burning fire pit for your patio? We're here for you! Call our team of NFI certified experts today at 800.919.1904


Looking for some design inspiration? Check out our Top 5 Wood Burning Fire Pits

Discover how wood fire pits operate and which accessories are available to enhance your burning experience. 

Thinking of building your own fire pit? Learn the key differences between wood and gas models, and why it's important to recruit the help of a pro.