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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
so we're planning some outdoor fun, to include an above ground 'fire pit', mostly for enjoying outdoor "campfires",...cooking hotodogs and making smores on long skewers.

The basic foundation is a poured concrete ring, about 4.5 feet in diameter, 1.5 feet high, and 8 inches thick. Have a look -



Now here's where I need some advice. It was recommended to us to line the inside of the ring with something like "fire brick" but upon trying to find some it appears to be not very common an item and what we have found is dern'd spendy. Of course we don't want to make a nice fire and have the concrete get all hot and bothered and crack, so a lining seems logical, but what would we really need to line it with?

We're thinking regular red brick would be a suitable heat barrier. It is 'heat-treated' already and should be a decent barrier, but I really don't have any concept of how much heat the concrete can take and how much of a barrier is necessary for a normal campfire - basically I have no real idea of what I'm talking about :p :). Sure we may toss some LOGS in there and get a FI-YA, but other than that it'd just be for occasional outdoor "campfire" time.

Thoughts on what to line the concrete ring with would be most appreciated!

- Sam
 

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Wow, that's way beyond anything I've ever done.

 

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I doubt you will get a fire to burn worth a damn in that concrete ring unless there are vents at the bottom.  A fire needs to breathe.  I usually just dig down about 12", line it with rocks, sweep the area to remove any plants, leaves, and other flammable material from around the fire and light it up.
 

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Elwenil said:
I doubt you will get a fire to burn worth a damn in that concrete ring unless there are vents at the bottom. A fire needs to breathe. I usually just dig down about 12", line it with rocks, sweep the area to remove any plants, leaves, and other flammable material from around the fire and light it up.
Yep, you need to knock/drill some vent holes in the bottom. Brick might be a good way to go to line the pit, not sure how they will stand up to the heat though. They might crack after a while. River rock might stand up better in the long run and you could also use it on the outside to make the exposed sides of the pit look better.

Chris
 

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wycowboy said:
Brick might be a good way to go to line the pit, not sure how they will stand up to the heat though.
Chris
My uncles fire pit at his cabin is made out of Bricks. Going on 8 years and no problem. Then again they have morter on them so maybe that helps? This is the only good pic I could find of it. It's just two lil brick walls

 

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ive been researching plans for a brick oven (bread baking/pizza making type) and all say you need the fire brick as regular brick often crack when a fire is built on top of them.  they also say that you should also use mortar designed for high-heat as regular mortar will dry out/crack.  this being open it might not be as bad.

matt

 

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As suggested, I would consider finding a way to vent the lower aspect of the pit. You also might want to try incorporating some sort of clean-out, be it a door or just a larger opening to shovel out exhausted material. I know both of those things would be pretty hard to do considering you've already poured it.

I would probably go the cheaper route and just use standard red brick, stacked on it's shorted edge, joined with high temp mortar and packed out away from the inside of the concrete. That way you're not actually conducting heat through contact directly to the concrete outter. Radiant heat won't be nearly as bad on the concrete, especially if a gap is left between the two at the top for the head to escape. Or just toss some cut flag stone or slate across the top to finish it off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
well I figured the only way to find out if the thing would support a big ole fire...was to make one ;D



it ain't perfect, but it seems to work great, and since all we're after is a 'camp fire' this is great. It's pretty far from the back porch so not a bad smoke drift...



..and of course, after it burned down, good coals 8) Can anyone say "Smores"? ;D It actually burned the hell outta the wood - we had a bunch of logs in there - not the small stuff but some big'uns. Seems to work great - had to find out.



It isn't for much bigger fire than that, and it did 'expand' a bit and cracked down two opposite sides, but at least now we know we can at least have a nice fire. It's perfect!

....mmmm smores......
 

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Smart move.  ;)
 

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If want fire/wood to burn complete, so only ash left, could build fire on a grate, and also wouldn't need to clean as much.  Concrete by itself will probably last long time - cheap regular brick (unfired) won't last long but any fired brick should be good for a few years anyway ('borrow' a few bricks from next demolition site you see).
I love fires - can stare at them for hours and has to be real wood fire outdoors.
 

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the concrete will likely have a small amount of water in it, which may cause additional cracking.

but being a Mad Max firepit it's probably got rebar in it...
 

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You call that a fire?  Our camp fires around here generate their own wind, lol.  We typically use old skids or whole logs for firewood.  30ft flames are not unheard of and you get a tan for sitting any closer than 25 or 30ft away.  ;D
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
  I thought about rebar ;) ...but in an attempt to keep it 'on the cheap' i opted for without.  The concrete was simple enough to pour - made a mold out of masonite and bolted it together.  Found a vendor for the firebrick, and while it was spendy it was also on a 5-week back-order..and I knew I couldn't wait that long.  I had to find out if a decent fire could be supported at all, and this basic concrete ring seems to work fine.  I guess I'll just use it until it breaks apart or something drastic
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Elwenil said:
You call that a fire? Our camp fires around here generate their own wind, lol. We typically use old skids or whole logs for firewood. 30ft flames are not unheard of and you get a tan for sitting any closer than 25 or 30ft away. ;D
Well here in Colorado we have to kindof keep our fires a bit smaller else the world will burn away :). Naw this is just right - big enough to stare at for hours while igniting lots of marshmallows... ;D
 

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Won't your beer get kinda warm in those holders in the ring?
 

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Donk said:
Won't your beer get kinda warm in those holders in the ring?
I figured those were either anti-aircraft tubes, or 4th of July aerial bomb launch tubes. ;D

Eric
 

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phawk yeah! Never over think a fire. Out think is one thing, over think is plain stupid. Good plan to just try it out. You could have bought just a few sacks of refractory powder and diluted it with some plain ol' 80lb sacks of ready mix to get a good heat proof ring. You could still line it with refractory mortar and save some dough compared to getting some fire bricks.
The diameter looked big enough to me to get a good draft around the fire stack. Put some sandstone around the outside of it to go along with the stone porch posts. Build a few more small fires, each a little bigger than the last, to temper the ring without cracking it too bad.  I'd bet if you finally get the ring hot all the way thru, it'd stay warm for a few days.

I'm not a pyro, but I love fires. ;D Good job MM!
 

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Mad Max said:
Well here in Colorado we have to kindof keep our fires a bit smaller else the world will burn away :).
What's gonna burn there, the lawn? I think that could easily be handled with a squirt gun. ;D
 
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