The Best Outdoor Fire Pits

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The term fire pit has come to include anything from fire bowls that sit atop your outdoor patio table to natural stone-created fixtures with deep interiors. The best outdoor fire pits will meet safety, cooking, maintenance and other needs of the individual using it. Some outdoor fire pits are better for use with children, while some lend themselves more for adult use.

Distributes Heat Evenly

Your outdoor fire pit might need to serve more than one function: cooking food and warming up the guests standing or sitting near it. Some materials used to make an outdoor fire pit are more beneficial than others in accomplishing these two tasks. Copper is an example. Copper outdoor fire pits retain heat and distribute it evenly, allowing for uniform cooking of your outdoor meal or spreading heat to all your guests in the vicinity.

Reduces Burn Risk

You need a fire pit that isn't a potential hazard to you, your children or guests. A fire pit that is adequately covered and allows for a directed smoke flow in the top will be safer to use than one without these components. A log's unexpected movement -- and resulting potential misplacement from the fire pit itself -- could hit a nearby bystander or send sparks onto dry areas within range, causing burns, damage or a wildfire. According to the University of Chicago Medical Center, fires and burns at the home are the fifth-leading cause of unintentional death in America for children aged 14 and under. Reduce your child's fire and burn risk; choose an outdoor fire pit with a screen, or that is made of stone and deep enough to reduce this risk.

Accommodates Needs

Outdoor fire pit needs will likely differ from person to person. The best outdoor fire pit will meet the safety, cooking and warming needs of the homeowner buying it. That can include a slate and copper table fire pit for a couple planning to use their home fire area just to sit around on cold fall evenings after work and to grill their steaks on -- or a copper chiminea (with a safety screen) fire pit, for use around a group of children.

Low Maintenance

You want to enjoy your outdoor fire pit instead of living to clean or maintain it. The best outdoor fire pits, then, are those that are low maintenance. Natural stone fire pits might need an occasional debris removal of interior contents, but little additional upkeep is required. Fire bowl table top pits have to be cleaned after each use and for decor purposes could benefit from some polishing, or at least the exterior. Fire pits made into tables or as standalone pieces on top of the ground need to be emptied of burned contents more frequently than an in-the-ground stone fire pit. These may need to be cleaned on the exterior surface as well to keep them looking decorative.