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Can You Use Charcoal in Fire Pits?

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If you're a fan of outdoor cooking and campfires, you might be considering using charcoal in your fire pit. Charcoal is a popular choice for many people because it burns hotter than firewood and is easy to store.

Charcoal in Fire Pits

Before you start using charcoal in your fire pit, it's important to understand how it works and what precautions to take so that you can use it safely. Read on to find out more information on how to use charcoal in a fire pit, while being safe.

Types of Charcoal

There are two main types of charcoal that you can use in your fire pit: briquettes and lump charcoal. Briquettes are made from compressed sawdust and other natural materials, while lump charcoal is made from pieces of pure, untreated hardwood. Lump charcoal burns hotter and produces less ash, but it can be more expensive than briquettes.

How to Light the Charcoal

To light the charcoal, you'll need to use a fire starter or lighter fluid. If you're using a charcoal starter, simply place it in the center of the fire pit and light it. If you're using lighter fluid, be sure to use it sparingly, as too much fluid can cause a flare-up and damage the fire pit. Be aware that lighter fluid can also affect the flavor of the food you are grilling. We prefer to use all-natural fire-starters, especially when cooing with charcoal.

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Cooking with Charcoal

Charcoal is perfect for cooking food, as it provides a consistent, steady heat source. To cook food over a charcoal fire, simply place the food on a grill or griddle and cook it over the hot coals. Be sure to keep the food at a safe distance from the coals, as the heat can be intense. Consider creating an indirect heat source by off-setting the charcoal from the center of your fire pit. You can use our Universal Ember Catcher to create a bed of charcoal on one side of your raised fire pit grate and cook on the other side of the grill to lessen direct heat while cooking.

BBQ on a Walden Legacy Fire Pit
Safety Precautions

When using charcoal in your fire pit, it's important to take a few safety precautions. First, be sure to place the fire pit on a level surface, away from any flammable materials. Second, never leave the fire unattended, and keep a fire extinguisher or water source nearby in case of an emergency. For peace of mind, the easiest way to put out your fire at the end of the night is with a snuffer lid. Snuffing the fire out is safe, and sometimes you can even re-use charcoal after snuffing the fire because the fire's fuel is removed quickly. Finally, be sure to let the coals cool completely before disposing of them, as they can remain hot for several hours after the fire is out. 

Cleaning the Fire Pit

After using your fire pit with charcoal, it's important to clean it thoroughly. This will help to remove any ash or residue that can clog the air vents and reduce the fire pit's efficiency. To clean the fire pit, first you simply remove the ash and dispose of it. Some people then prefer to wipe down the fire pit with a damp cloth, but we recommend you season the steel with vegetable oil instead. Seasoning your grate or fire ring will help to prevent rust from appearing, extend the life of the steel, and makes the pit appear clean. Ideally, a grate would be seasoned with oil when warm (but not hot) because it is more porous.

Walden Ash Scoop and Charcoal Scoop

Charcoal in Fire Pits Can Be Ideal

In conclusion, using charcoal in your outdoor fire pit can be a great way to enjoy outdoor cooking and campfires. Just be sure to choose the right type of charcoal, light it safely, take the proper safety precautions, and clean the fire pit after each use.

Best Fire Pits for Charcoal

With these tips in mind, you're sure to have a safe and enjoyable time using charcoal in your fire pit. However, have you considered upgrading your current fire pit or getting your first one ever? Walden Backyards' specializes in creating the backyard ambiance you've only dreamed of and what better way than with one of our Legacy Series' fire pit insert sets. Shop outdoor fire pits and fireside accessories today!

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