The earliest known fire pits date back hundreds of thousands of years to the middle Paleolithic period. Archaeological digs in the Klasies River in South Africa and Israel show evidence of stone-lined pits meant to prevent fires from spreading in early humans’ encampments.
Modern fire pits have come a long way, but they still need to be watched carefully. How long does it take for a fire pit to cool down?
It takes a fire pit between 15 minutes to 2 hours to cool down. The hot ashes and embers can take over 24 hours to cool completely depending on the size, style, and thickness of your fire pit. The outside temperature, wind and precipitation will affect the speed at which a fire pit cools down. Hot and dry temperatures will take longer to cool down than cold, snow or rain.
How Long Does It Take For A Propane Fire Pit To Cool Down
How long it takes for a propane fire pit to cool down will depend on how much gas you use, in addition to other factors.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to calculate the exact timeframe for any firepit because there are too many variables. It’s never the same twice unless the conditions are identical.
You would need to do a complex algebraic equation based on the material and thickness of the bowl, that day’s weather, outdoor temperature, and your specific fuel burning rate as it relates to the stored heat of the pit itself on every separate occasion.
Even the color of the firepit changes its cool-down time, though they’re generally black because it keeps heat well.
When it is hot and dry outside, it takes a lot longer than on a cold, snowy, or rainy day. This is because the firepit radiates its heat outward to get rid of it.
The molecules in the firepit and those in the surrounding air or earth are trying to reach a mutually similar state of excitement (temperature), and they do this through a heat exchange.
Generally, the smaller and thinner the material of your container, the quicker it cools because there’s less mass to store and lose heat.
However, if you heat a smaller fire pit to a higher temperature than a large one, it may take the same time or longer to cool.
While most fire pits have no specified cool-down time, I did discover The Heininger 5995 FirePit takes fifteen to twenty minutes to become cool to the touch. You can pick up one of these small, quick cooling fire pits on Amazon.
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- 19 inch diameter all-weather fire pit and 18.75 inch pit lid
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Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Propane Fire Pit Maintenance After Cooling
It’s essential to cover an unused fire pit to prevent debris accumulation and weathering. Always wait until it’s cool to place the lid on top. Doing this lets it cool faster rather than trapping hot air inside.
Propane firepits tend to come with PVC covers. Since both of these are plastics, they will melt if heated. More importantly, some plastics can emit toxic fumes known as VOCs or volatile organic compounds.
According to PubMed, this process is called off-gassing, and it happens more with newer PVC. Alternatively, I recommend a heavier metal lid if one is available for your particular fire pit.
How Long Does It Take For A Wood Burning Fire Pit To Cool Down
Unlike other fire pits, a wood-burning fire pit can take much longer to cool. While propane or electricity shuts off instantly, a natural fire will burn low for hours as it slowly consumes the last stored carbon in the wood.
If you do nothing to help smother the fire, your wood-burning fire pit could take several extra hours to cool down.
In general, a wood-burning fire pit is the most dangerous. Sparks from small wood fires usually travel up to thirty-five feet, but embers can travel up to forty kilometers away.
Moreover, wood-burning fire pits are a significant source of dangerous particulate matter pollution in the air.
If you need more information on fire safety, I recommend reading or even contacting the National Fire Protection Association or NFPA.
Wood Fire Pit Maintenance After Cooling
Unlike mess-free propane and ethanol fire pits, a wood-burning fire pit leaves debris in the form of ash. It is essential to clean this ash out regularly to prevent a buildup.
Not only can this fill your fire pit, making it dangerous or unusable, but the ash may trap tiny pockets of flammable gasses or unburnt carbon.
Keep a wood fire pit covered between uses, and give it a deep, thorough scrubbing every six months.
How Long Does It Take For A Electric Fire Pit To Cool Down
Electric fire pits don’t have any actual fire in them. There are ethanol and propane fire pits with electric ignition systems to start the fire, but the electricity is not the heat source, and you will need a flammable liquid to power them.
Meanwhile, fire-pit-styled electric heaters use the same type of coils as other electric heaters.
It will take roughly the same amount of time for an electric fire pit to cool as an equivalent-heat propane or ethanol fire pit made of the same external materials.
This occurs because the heat source doesn’t matter as much as the temperature it reaches and what material is storing that heat energy.
How To Cool Down Fire Pit Quicker
Sometimes you can’t wait around for hours, so it’s beneficial to know how to cool down a fire pit quicker. Fortunately, several methods work well.
Below I’ve listed the top four and how to accomplish them so you can move on faster. Most of these methods only work on wood fire pits.
- Spread The Ashes Of A Wood Fire – So long as you have enough clear space and it’s not too windy, you can spread out ashes from a wood fire. The thinner and broader you spread your ashes, the faster they cool. This method works because a less dense layer of ash radiates heat much more quickly. You can also spread out a small pile of ash inside a fire pit for quick cooling.
- Soak It With Water – Pouring water on a wood fire will also cool it quickly. Much like an evaporative cooler in your home, the water will absorb the heat and evaporate, taking that energy with it. However, you should not pour water on electric, propane, or ethanol fire pits as this can damage them. Make sure you get all the wood and coals, and then stir it to make a slush out of the mixture. Additionally, if your fire pit is metal, it is vital to dry it off when it gets wet. Otherwise, the water will cause rust and corrode your fire pit.
- Smother The Wood and Coals In Sand – If you’ve ever been camping, you know that keeping a bucket or two of sand nearby to douse your fire is crucial. Pour an even layer of sand on top of the fire. The sand creates a coating that prevents air from entering and immediately halts the burning process. Moreover, the sand absorbs some heat, making a wider surface area to radiate heat away more evenly.
- Put A Lid On It – Any meal cover that seals well will stop a fire from burning. You should leave this in place for five to ten minutes, thus depriving your flames of any air. After that, use a hot pad or fire poker to remove the lid so the heat can escape, and you don’t burn your hand. However, you also need to turn off any gas or fuel flowing into the firepit, or you’ll waste it and create a dangerous buildup inside. Please note that this only works with metal lids because plastics and PVC will melt.
Helpful Tips To Know How Long It Takes For A Fire Pit To Cool Down
Determining exactly how long it will take a fire pit to cool down is difficult at best. There are so many variables like material and outdoor temperature that you’d have to calculate every time you put a fire out for accurate results.
However, most fire pits cool quickly, especially if they have a gap beneath them where air can flow around the base and take heat away with it.
Here are more tips to know how long it takes for a fire pit to cool down.
- Fire pits that are set into the ground take the longest to cool. Because dirt makes a superb insulator, the area around your fire pit will hold heat for hours. While this is generally safer once the fire is out, several thousand people per year end up in the hospital from burns they got after dousing the fire.
- Above ground fire pits with closed sides take the second-longest time to cool down. For example, the cool-looking glass-filled fire pits set into countertops can take an hour or more because the cabinet around the base prevents air from moving freely under the fire pit.
- The quickest fire pits to cool down have sturdy but thin metal sides and are generally portable. This happens because they sit up off the ground on an open frame. Typically, these are small and run on propane. As a result of the gas, they stop burning within a second or two of shutoff, and the cooling can begin.
- On cool evenings, most above-ground fire pits are cold enough to walk away from within thirty minutes. However, on sunny days it may take twice as long, or more.
- Placing your hand near but not on the side of a firepit will generally tell you when it’s cool enough to walk away safely. If you feel no radiant heat, it’s probably safe. However, you should still keep pets and children away for a couple of hours.
It is essential to allow your firepit to cool off safely before anyone touches it. Keeping an eye on the fire includes sticking around as it cools.
However, it’s usually a lot quicker for gas and electric fire pits than a wood fire because there’s no dense material remaining to hold the heat.
Once your fire pit is cool, you should always cover it to prevent debris accumulation and weather damage. Debris can clog gas pipes or collect on electric coils causing unwanted fires, and even wood-burning fire pits can corrode in the rain.