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How To Rust Proof A Fire Pit
The Detroit Post
Saturday, 16 October, 2021

How To Rust Proof A Fire Pit

Brent Mccoy
• Monday, 14 December, 2020
• 11 min read

Identify the type of metal the fire bowl and any stand for the bowl are made of, and purchase a weatherproof spray paint made to adhere to that type of metal. Dry all the metal thoroughly with a towel, paying special attention to joints, corners and screws/screw holes.

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Usually store purchased copper and steel fire pits sport rustproof paints and coatings as part of the manufacturing process. If the homeowner makes his own fire pit, however, rust proofing must be the final step of the home fabrication process.

Paints, silicone coatings and oils are all viable choices for use alone or in tandem to keep rust at bay and maintain a gorgeous fire feature. Rust is a serious problem with metallic outdoor fire pits, although no one ever thinks it will happen to theirs.

First, determine what kind of construction material your outdoor fire pit is made from. Many materials are resistant to rust and will not succumb to the elements.

Although no metal can last forever, the following materials score highly on our durability check: Aluminum fire pits strike a healthy balance between cost and durability, although any of the above options will provide you with a fire pit that can last for years.

So you have an iron fire pit outdoors and you want to weather- proof it to prevent damage. You’ll prevent any unwanted moisture from landing on your fire pit, and thus will drastically slow down the rusting process.

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It’s an unfortunate truth of nature that metal rusts when put in contact with water. The best thing that you can do is prevent the water from ever reaching your valuable fire pit to begin with.

I’d urge you to take our advice and protect your investment! If the homeowner makes his own fire pit, however, rust proofing must be the final step of the home fabrication process.

Paints, silicone coatings and oils are all viable choices for use alone or in tandem to keep rust at bay and maintain a gorgeous fire feature. Dry all the metal thoroughly with a towel, paying special attention to joints, corners and screws/screw holes.

Spray the inside and outside the metal fire bowl and all the metal of any stand with the weatherproof spray paint of an appropriate color or colors, and allow the paint to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions. Usually store purchased copper and steel fire pits sport rustproof paints and coatings as part of the manufacturing process.

Clean the fire pit of all ash after it has completely burned out and cooled down Cover the fire pit with a UV and/or waterproof cover Apply a light coat of any common food oil to any exposed metal if the fire pit will not be used for an extended period of time or you live in a high-humidity area like on the coast Check your fire pit a day before each used to spot and fix any early signs of rust Store your fire pit off the ground, under shelter, or indoors if possible Only burn well-seasoned hardwoods to prevent tree sap building up Removing, or at least, reducing the amount of water or moisture your fire pit comes in contact with eliminates or significantly slows down the formation of rust.

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If possible, store your fire pit indoors, like in a garage, or under a covered area like your patio when not in use. Generally speaking, yes all fire pits will rust given enough exposure to the elements and time.

Even copper and cast iron fire pits will start to show degradation over time. More importantly, the steel used in these fire pits is often thicker and even though rust may form after many years, it does not affect the structural integrity of the fire pit.

You know you’ll need to wait at least through the night before the fire completely dies down. To make matters worse, the inner surface of the fire pit is what experiences the most heat and is most susceptible to rust damage.

After checking that there is not any heat still being generated by the fire pit and all the coals are out, you can dump the ash somewhere safe. The tips listed in this section are also recommended for people in coastal climates where a sea-breeze may be present or areas with consistently high humidity.

After each use, you’ll want to ensure the fire pit is free of ash as mentioned in the previous section. The body of this fire pit is made with the same steel used to make bridges and forms an attractive “patina” on the outside.


A patina is an intentional layer of rust meant to protect the rest of the body. The goal of using the oil is to cover the pores of the metal and prevent any water from getting to its surface.

In the next section we’ll show you how to remove any rust spots and repair any damage. Using some soapy water, clean away any gunk or debris and as much of the surface rust as possible.

Wearing a respirator and using a fine grit sandpaper (220 or above), sand the area down until the rust is no longer visible. Your local home improvement store’s $40-Labor-Day special won’t last very long because the metal is thin and not well protected.

You’ll find that most fire pits that you pick up from your local improvement store won’t last very long. In general, a little of rust is okay as long as it does not compromise the encasement of the fire.

If there are any sections of metal missing or embers have a chance to escape from the pit and start a fire elsewhere, do not use the fire pit. We’ll start by saying that if you have a fire pit that is part of a larger table and has some sort of support underneath, then your job will be much easier.

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Start by purchasing some 26 gauge or thicker sheet metal that is large enough to cover the bottom of your fire pit. The second sheet should be long enough to wrap around the circumference of the fire pit and be high enough to cover the total height.

You will then need to trace the bottom of the fire pit in the center of the sheet metal. Roll up the second piece of sheet metal to where it fits inside the newly formed ‘pan’.

Mark and drill a hole on the opposite end of the second piece of sheet metal for a top rivet. A coating of high temp spray paint isn’t necessary, but may provide some additional protection.

This choice is as about as different as you can get from out top pick: Cast Iron Material, Minimalist no-frills feature set, and a classic wood burning design. The included drain holes ensure you won’t walk up to a rusty birdbath and the heavy duty material means it will stand up to even the most brutal of outdoor conditions.

Even though this is a larger unit, assembly is very quick with the included hardware, and with a 44 x 32 tabletop you’ll be able to entertain up to 8 adults in comfort and still have room for plates, glasses and silverware. If you're looking to add a stunning fire pit centerpiece to your patio or deck, the Outland Fire Table is perfect choice.

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When it comes to fire pits, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is if you want a propane fire pit or a more traditional wood burning model. Propane burns very cleanly and leaves absolutely no residue or smell on houses, RVs or clothing.

In addition, because propane produces no smoke you won’t have to worry about playing musical chairs around your fire pit as the wind direction changes. If you’ve ever been around a real campfire you know just how bad the smoke can be after a quick wind direction change.

On the flip side though, that feeling of staring into glowing coals and hearing the age-old crackling of the logs simply can’t be beat. With a wood burning option you’ll simply have to use your bush crafting skills and a lot of lighter fluid.

The elements usually win the war when it comes to small electronic devices and after a few years you may have issues starting a propane fire pit using the built-in lighter. If you keep your fire under a vinyl cover though it shouldn’t be much of an issue unless you live in a very humid or ocean side location.

As a side note, wood burning fire pits should not be used on wooden decks without proper precautions. These can include laying fire bricks underneath and having water ready in case an errant ember escapes.

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Propane fire pits on the other hand can be use anywhere there is proper ventilation, even undercover so long as the ceiling height is at least eight feet tall. This is mainly due to their lack of electronic ignition, low number of complex components and zero pressure containing gas hoses and regulators.

However, when comparing entry level propane fire pits to top of the line wood burning options that price can swing the other direction. If you opt for a thin steel sheet metal bowl as opposed to a solid cast iron one, you’ll be paying a faction of the price.

Likewise, if you're looking at a large propane fire pit table that seats eight adults you can expect to be paying quite a bit more than even the most expensive luxury wood burner. A lot of the time cheap materials and hardware were used in its construction which will quickly corrode in the elements or in the case of really low quality products, burn completely through after a few uses.

There really isn’t a right answer for which one you should get, but a good rule of thumb is if you’re in a smaller or very dry space, opt for the safer propane models. If your bit more experienced or have a larger backyard and preferably a concrete patio you can feel free to grab a wood burning one.

PropertySteelCast IronAluminumCopperHardness1401209535Melting Point2500°F2100°F1221°F1984°FWeight / Density488449167 548Tensile Strength250 137276220As you can see from the table above there are four main properties we focused on for each material: hardness, melting point, weight/density and tensile strength. PropertySteelCast IronAluminumCopperHardnessHardestHarder MildSoftMelting PointHighMediumLowMediumWeight / DensityHeavyHeavyLightVery HeavyTensile StrengthFlexibleBrittleFlexibleHybridNow, you can clearly see where some materials have advantages and disadvantages.

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Overall Steel is generally a very safe bet when it comes to a fire bowl materials, it is hard, very difficult to melt, quite flexible, but heavy. The Sunny daze Cosmic Fire pit is an awesome wood burning option that gives a classic design a new lease on life, especially with the included spark screen and safety bar.

Unlike some cheap options, the Sunny daze Fire pit comes with pre-drilled drain holes to prevent water and condensation build up in the fire bowl. Constructed from heavy gauge steel that includes wonderful side crosshatching and a super wide fire bowl, the Landmark Barron First is a great buy.

The included full length spark screen does a great job of preventing embers from escaping into the yard and making sure you have an enjoyable night. While the metal is a bit thin on this model, it makes carrying it around very easy due to the lightweight nature of its construction.

If you plan on getting the Savannah Garden Light First be sure to drill a few drain holes in the bottom and give it a coating of high temp rustproof paint. When it comes to beautiful looking fire pits the Titan Attachments Front gate 40 Copper First Bowl has the looks to beat out the competition.

Its wide lipped design also helps to ensure logs stay in place even when burning. The included fire wood grate assists in increasing ventilation giving you a cleaner and less smokey burn.

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With an elegant dark brown finish and a refined look, you’ll be impressing dinner guests and grabbing the neighbor’s attentions the second you fire it up. Made of extruded aluminum, this fire pit is extremely light, very resistant to rust and assembles in a snap.

With its rustic slate tabletop, grid pattered steel base and impressive center fire bowl display. You can fit 8 people easily around the massive table-top and the slide out propane tank tray means you can keep the party going all night long.

The extra large ledge allow you to have a full three-course dinner under the stars or just put your feet up and relax with a glass of wine and a good book. With a magnificent 12 x 42 65,000 BTU burner surrounded by a stunning tempered glass top this fire pit table exudes a sense of luxury and prosperity.

With a ton of under table storage space, well-designed burner controls and an easy to light fire bowl there is very little to dislike about the fire pit aside from the price. One of the worst enemies of fire pits is water, whether this is from rain, condensation or humidity you’ll want to keep it away from any exposed metal components.

As we detailed in the material section, steel is a great choice when it comes to making a fire pit with its hardness and high heat resistance, but as most people know it is very prone to rusting. We’d recommend you drill these holes even if you plan on using a cover, but keep in mind these are exclusively for wood burning fire pit, propane fire pits should have built in drainage.

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Fire pits need sufficient oxygen to obtain a clean hot burn, and they get that through both top and bottom air flow under the logs. A few minutes of cleaning will go a long wait to keeping your fire pit burning bright and hot on even the coldest of nights.

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