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How To Build A Temporary Fire Pit From Low-Cost Materials

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Fire pits are a popular way to enjoy the warmth of an outdoor fire on a cool evening, but they aren't always portable. The good news is that you can build a simple, but effective, fire pit in a location of your choosing using a few basic materials. Best of all, they won't cost a fortune and are easy to dismantle when you are done. Below is a list of materials you will need as well as a set of detailed instructions on how to build one:

Building a fire pit - Tools and materials needed

  • 8-inch by 8-inch by 16-inch concrete cinder blocks
  • 16-inch by 8-inch by 2-inch solid concrete block
  • 8-inch by 8-inch by 8-inch concrete half-block
  • Soil tamper
  • 2 cubic feet of lava rock
  • Shovel or spade
  • Box level
  • Construction adhesive
  • Caulk gun

Building a fire pit - Step-by-step procedure

1. Prepare the surface for the fire pit - Choose a location for the fire pit that is away from flammable materials such as leaves, tall grass and shrubs. Also, don't forget to look in the air above any potential building sites, as low-hanging tree limbs and branches are vulnerable to catching fire. If possible, choose a spot that is sheltered from the wind and close to water should the fire spread out of control.

After finding a good spot for your fire pit, the next step is to prepare the site. Begin by clearing away loose materials and debris with a shovel or garden hoe, then dig into the ground 6 inches deep. Remove all soil and other organic matter down to the bottom of the 6-inch pit, and use the box level to help determine if the bottom of the cut-away area is level. If it is not level, add a few shovel-fulls of soil to fill in the area. Pack the bottom of the hole with a soil tamper, if you have one available, but you can also use the flat edge of your garden hoe, as well. The firmer the soil up front, the less likely it is to fail during the rain or other episodes of moisture inundation.

2. Place the initial layer of blocks - After you prepare the surface of the soil, lay two concrete blocks end-to-end in the shallow-fire pit hole. Apply a small amount of construction adhesive between the two blocks, then push them together firmly. Don't use too much adhesive, or you may have difficulty removing the fire pit blocks at a later date.

Next, place 8-inch cube half blocks at each end of the block row you just made, and also cement them into their proper positions. Now, turn 90 degrees from the block row at the end of each row, and lay two additional 8-in by 8-in by 16-in blocks end-to-end. Use the construction adhesive to bond the blocks together, and add another 8-inch cube block to the end of the row. Repeat this process twice more to create a square bottom layer that consists of the following in order: one-half block, two full blocks, one half block, two full blocks, then another half block, with the process repeated once more for the full square.

3. Make the second layer - For the next layer, begin at the corners and place three full-sized blocks back-to-back-to-back. Keep adding full-sized blocks around the perimeter of the fire pit, and use a few "squirts" of construction adhesive to hold them in place. On top of the second layer of blocks, add 8-in by 8-in by 2-inch full block pieces to serve as decorative pieces that cover up the holes in the cinder blocks. These pieces will also help add stability to the fire pit and serve as a place for warming food.

4. Add the lava rock - At the bottom of the inside of the fire pit, pour two cubic feet of lava rock to cover the bare ground; spread the lava rock around with your hands or with a shovel. This rock will help distribute the heat evenly and serve as a buffer between the ground and the fire.


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