Fire pits sure are fun, especially as summer gives way to autumn and you want to combat that nightly chill. When the time comes to extinguish the fire pit though, you can’t be too abrupt about it. How do you properly put out a fire pit?
Here’s how to put out a fire pit:
- Before you put the pit out, don’t throw in more fuel
- Allow the fire to naturally taper off
- Use water to smother the remaining flames
- Stir any embers and ash
- Feel for heat before going inside
In today’s guide, we’ll explain the five steps bulleted above so you can safely extinguish your fire pits every time and enjoy more fun togetherness outside with family and friends!
5 Steps for Properly Putting Out a Fire Pit
Stop Adding Fuel
If it’s getting late and you want to retire inside soon, then you should stop tossing in any more logs. Encourage your friends or family members who are enjoying the fire pit with you to do the same.
What if you ignited a fire using a commercial fire starter? The same logic applies. If you keep using the fire starter, then the flames will dance and leap for quite a while to come.
When is the cutoff if you want the fire to burn out in a timely manner? Stop fueling the flames about an hour before you want to call it a night. You can even start a little earlier.
What if you ideally want to go inside in 20 or 30 minutes but you hadn’t followed that timeline? By spacing apart the logs (using a poker, please!), then each will burn independently. That speeds up the burning process.
Let the Fire Naturally Burn Out
Once you stop feeding the fire any more fuel, it will begin to get smaller and smaller. Your fuel sources are burning, and without more, the fire cannot maintain its size.
Allow at least 30 minutes for the fire to burn once you’ve stopped adding fuel. If you can wait 45 minutes, this is ideal.
Use Water to Extinguish What Flames Are Left
The flames likely won’t go out entirely even if you wait the full 45 minutes, but that’s okay. You only need the fire to be controllable, not completely gone.
You can now use a stream of water to finish the job. Which water source you choose is up to you. Some fire pit enjoyers will use a garden hose for its convenience.
Turn the garden hose to the spray or shower settings and then direct the hose towards the fire pit.
Be sure to keep everyone away from the fire pit while you’re spraying. Sparks are less likely to occur with those two garden hose settings, but you can never say never.
We’re also sure that no one wants to get splashed with cold water on what’s already a chilly night!
You can also use a bucket of water, but you’ll have to fill the bucket somehow. Perhaps you go inside and use your kitchen tap to replenish the bucket. Then you can dump the bucket directly on the fire.
Using a bucket is more inconvenient, as you have to heave a heavy bucket all over your yard and try to avoid getting yourself wet.
You want to toss the bucket of water rather than stand by the fire pit and extinguish it. The reason is that hot steam will rise and could lead to serious burns.
If you can hear the fire sizzling or making other audible sounds, then keep pouring on the water. The fire is not fully extinguished yet.
It’s a good idea to fill two buckets and have one on standby so you can quickly put out the fire if it’s still sizzling.
Stir Around the Embers and Ash (keep adding water)
Next, using a shovel or a poker, you want to mix any remaining embers and ash and stir them around.
The goal is to get all embers and ash soaked with water. You can always add more water to make the job easier, especially if you have a second bucket that you didn’t use much of.
You should certainly use water if you hear sizzling or feel heat coming from the fire pit.
What if you don’t have a shovel or a poker? Although it’s not ideal, in a pinch, you can use a long branch. Make sure it’s thick and sturdy so it won’t snap off once it gets too close to the fire.
Feel For Heat
You’re about ready to go inside, but you shouldn’t quite yet. You want to walk around the fire pit (now that it’s safe to) and feel for heat. Check the center and edges of the fire pit for warmth.
By now, the fire pit should feel cool.
When testing how warm an area of the fire pit is, you can raise your hand above the fire pit, but please don’t touch the fire pit directly. If an area is hot, you could burn yourself.
Look for ash outside of the fire pit and remove this. The ash should be cool and thus easily handled by this point.
Fun fact: you can prevent rust if you don’t leave cold ash around the fit pit.
How To Put Out a Fire Pit Without Water
If you’ve started a fire pit out in the woods, you might not always have convenient access to water. You don’t want to leave the fire burning all night, as that’s not safe, but you can’t use water to extinguish the fire either.
No need to panic! Try one of these other convenient methods instead.
A snuffer is a metal device that can put out fires. It features a large lid-like structure that covers the fire and abruptly cuts off the oxygen supply.
Without oxygen, which is one of the three parts of the fire triangle, a fire cannot burn.
A snuffer is only as good as its size. If the snuffer you own is too small for your fire pit, then it won’t work. Likewise, if it’s too big, then oxygen could still slip through.
It’s certainly not the most common method for putting out a fire pit, but a fire extinguisher does work in a snap.
You should really only rely on this method if you feel like the fire is burning out of control and previous extinguishing methods have not worked.
Also, make sure your fire extinguisher is not expired. I wrote an another article on this site about whether a fire extinguisher can expire, check it out.
Dirt or Sand
Here’s a very simple method that requires nothing more than a shovel. Fill up the shovel with dirt or sand and dump it on the flames.
Repeat a few more times and the fire will be only embers before you know it.
You should still stir the embers together using the shovel or a branch to ensure nothing is burning.
The next time you light a fire pit, be ready to dedicate an hour+ of your time to ensuring the flame has burned out completely. Then follow this routine every time you use your fire pit for your safety and that of your friends and family!