5 Unexpected Ways to Use Your Fire Pit During Every Season of the Year

This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

Fire pits are a great way to relax outdoors, but you can use them for much more than just gazing at their soothing flames or staying warm in the cooler months. From cooking delicious food to chasing away pesky mosquitoes to even making natural fertilizer, fire pits have all kinds of different functions and abilities. 

This guide will walk you through 5 neat things you can do with a fire pit that you probably have never considered. If you’re looking for new reasons to light up a safe, satisfying bonfire you’ve come to the right place. (For more fire pit tips, you can read about the best way to clean your fire pit and how to save money when purchasing one).

1. Repel mosquitoes

Pest control probably isn’t the first topic that comes to mind when you think of fire pits. That said, they can be a powerful tool for warding off one of the most unwelcome outdoor visitors: mosquitoes. Burning herbs happens to be an age-old technique for keeping the biting insects at bay.

Research now confirms that burning popular seasoning plants, specifically thyme, is particularly effective. One field study found that directly burning thyme leaves provides 85% to 89% protection from mosquitoes for up to 90 minutes. The next time the bugs are out in force, throw a few sprigs on the fire.

2. Cook over it

It may be obvious to barbecue lovers, but cooking food over a wood fire usually leads to delicious results. Chicken, fish and all kinds of red meat benefit from time spent over hot coals. A fire pit is no different. Two big names in the smokeless fire pit business already acknowledge this. 

You can convert Breeo fire pits into serious outdoor cooking machines.


Breeo

Breeo sells its Outpost Grill kit that can function as a stand-alone campfire grill. You can also attach it to one of the company’s fire pits. 

Fire pit-maker Solo Stove takes a different approach. You can certainly MacGyver any Solo Stove fire pit into a cooking device. However, the outfit now offers a product specially designed for that purpose. The Solo Stove Grill burns either chunks of hardwood or charcoal. It also uses a high-convection airflow system that the company says burns less fuel than conventional charcoal grills.

3. Take it camping

Next time you go camping with your car or truck consider bringing along a portable fire pit. There are pits built for travel in mind like the lightweight Solo Stove Ranger and collapsible Pop-Up Fire Pit. Some adventurous campers even bring their big Breeo X Series pits into the woods.

Consider taking your fire pit on your next camping trip.


Solo Stove

No matter which brand you choose, the upside to using your own pit in the wild is big. It’s always at the ready. You also don’t need to rely on the condition, or lack thereof, of your particular campsite.

4. Make a Swedish torch

Deep in the heart of winter it’s a tough sell to spend quality time outdoors. Change that logic by lighting up a Swedish torch. This traditional fire building technique calls for stacking wood vertically inside your pit. It burns from the top down and from the center outwards. 

These conditions create a fire that produces a lot more heat than standard fire pits. Since you add all the wood you can in the beginning, your pit will burn for quite a while with minimal intervention.

The Swedish torch method is a great way to stay warm outside when the weather is cold.


Brian Bennett/CNET

5. Reuse the ashes

When the fire has burned out and the pit has cooled, you may be tempted to dump the remnants in the trash. Think again, because fire pit ash is an excellent fertilizer.


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Packed with potassium and other trace elements, a sprinkle of wood ash is a boon to plant health. Studies have shown that application of wood ash to soil aided plant growth and resistance to drought conditions. It only takes a little though. The experiments used a low ratio of 1% ash to soil. For a typical 10-inch diameter (2.5- to 3-gallon) garden, pot you’d need just under a half-ounce of ash.

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