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Fire Pits on Wooden Decks: Safety Tips to Follow

Fire Pit Party

Nearly one-quarter of all new homes constructed in 2014 had a deck, according to the Survey of Construction conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. A wooden deck is a valuable addition to any home. It provides homeowners with a communal area where friends and family members can gather, and statistics show that it even adds monetary value to homes.

But if you plan to use a fire pit on your wooden deck, there are a few things you should know. Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that a wooden deck isn’t fireproof; therefore, you’ll need take some precautions when using a fire pit here. The good news, however, is that you can safely use a fire pit on a wooden deck, but only if you follow these safety measures.

Place Fire Pit Away from Your House

When choosing a location to place your fire pit, a good rule of thumb is to keep it at least 10 feet away from your home. Whether it’s on a wooden deck, stone patio or elsewhere, follow the 10-foot rule. Doing so reduces the risk of serious property damage and injury.

Don’t Use Lighter Fluid

Never use lighter fluid, gasoline or any other flammable liquid in your fire pit. If you accidentally spill any of these liquids on your wooden deck, it could easily ignite and catch fire. If you’re having trouble starting a fire, place additional tinder in the center of the wood or coals. Once this ignites, the heat should catch the wood or coals on fire.

Level Surface

In addition to keeping your fire pit at least 10 feet away from your house, you should also place it on a flat, surface. Assuming your wooden deck was built properly, it should be level (or almost level). Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to double-check and make sure the surface is level before using your fire pit.

Place Barrier Between Fire Pit and Wooden Deck

It’s also a good idea to place some type of fire-resistant barrier between your fire pit and wooden deck. A small square-shaped grid of stone pavers, for instance, will protect your wooden deck from the fire pit. While a fire pit typically won’t produce enough heat to ignite a deck, this will protect your deck from heat stains and scorching.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.

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How to Find Dry Firewood in a Not-so-Dry Environment

fireplace-2049696_960_720Wouldn’t it be great if there was an abundance of dry, perfectly-stacked firewood waiting for you in the woods of favorite campsite? Building a campfire is an essential part of camping. It provides warmth, light, cooking fuel, and a social-friendly place for campers to gather around. But you’ll need dry, not wet, firewood to build a campfire. If the ground is wet from rain or snow, you may have trouble locating dry firewood.

Search Under the Canopy

To begin your search for dry firewood, head for the forest canopy, paying close attention to the area around the base of trees where it’s sheltered by the canopy. Some rainfall will inevitably break through the canopy and hit the ground. Assuming the canopy is thick and dense, however, it should block out most of the rain, keeping any stray branches and firewood dry underneath.

Fallen Trunks

Many survivalists and wilderness experts also recommend looking for dry firewood around fallen trunks. When large trunks fall, they’ll often remain propped up against a nearby tree, protecting them from rot. You can easily harvest these trunks for use in your campfire. Just remember to look for snakes and other critters that could be lurking underneath.

Cut Dry Firewood Out of Wet Wood

Using nothing more than a knife, you can often harvest dry firewood from wet wood. Basically, this involves splitting a medium-sized piece of firewood down the middle and shaving off large, thin pieces of the dry material from the center. To split a piece of firewood, place the blade of your knife against one end and use a separate piece of wood to “hammer” it down. When done correctly, the wood should split, revealing the center. With the center exposed, you can shave dry pieces of wood for use in your campfire. These pieces will likely be small, however, so don’t expect to build a raging bonfire.

Bring it With You

Of course, you can always bring your own firewood from home instead. Assuming you aren’t hiking several miles into the deep wilderness, you can probably pack enough firewood for at least one night. And if you’re worried about it getting wet, place it a large waterproof plastic bag for added protection.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.

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5 Ways to Prepare Your Patio for Spring

cafe-436082_960_720And just like that winter was gone — well, almost at least. The official start of spring is just one month away, which means more and more homeowners will be going outdoors to enjoy their patios. To fully enjoy this extension of your home, however, you’ll need to prepare it for spring.

Clean Your Patio

First and foremost, you’ll want to clean your patio, sweeping away any pine straw, leaves or other debris. Not only is this an eye-sore, but yard debris can leave permanent stains on wooden patio decks. After removing the debris, wash it with a deck cleaning solution to achieve an even cleaner appearance. With a clean patio, you can begin decorating and preparing it for use this spring.

Bring Out the Fire Pit

The upcoming spring season offers the perfect opportunity for homeowners to host outdoor parties. Whether it’s cool weather with a few close friends or a full-blown party, a few grilled burgers, beverages, and activities, a fire pit will make your patio a little more enjoyable for these and other outdoor social gatherings.

Arrange Seating and Furniture

It’s difficult to enjoy a patio without seating and furniture. But not all furniture is suitable for use on a patio, which is why it’s important to choose the right type. Stick with furniture that’s waterproof and able to withstand the spring showers. Cushions for chairs and other seating should also be made of a waterproof material. Or if you choose a non-waterproof material for your seat cushions, be sure to bring inside at the end of the day.


The early spring season offers the perfect opportunity for homeowners to decorate their patios with planters. Even if you have little-to-no gardening experience, you still pick up some low-maintenance plants from your local nursery or home improvement store, using them to enhance your patio decor. A few colorful planters will transform an otherwise generic patio into a vibrant outdoor living area.


Consider the lighting on your patio and how it impacts both the mood and function of the environment. Depending on which side your patio is facing, it may receive sunlight during the day, in which case additional lighting isn’t needed. But even if the sun illimuminates your patio during the day, you’ll still need an additional light source during the evenings and nights. Tiki torches, string lights, post lights, LED rope lights and wall sconces are all excellent lighting options to consider.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.

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How to Make a Campfire Using Flint and Steel

ash-1866620_960_720111No, you don’t have to rub two sticks together to build a fire without a match. An easier and more effective “primitive” fire-building solution involves the use of flint and steel.

Available for sale at most camping and outdoor sporting goods stores, people have been using flint and steel to build campfires for centuries. Striking flint against steel results in small pieces of steel being scraped off at high temperatures. These embers are then used to ignite kindling and tinder, after which you can begin adding larger pieces of wood to your fire.

Choosing the Right Flint and Steel

Don’t assume that all flint-and-steel combos are of equal quality. Some of the cheaper combos contain low-quality flint, which is harder to create hot embers from. The flint should have a sharp edge, which is used to strike against the steel, and it should be large enough to comfortably hold in your hand.

Also, it doesn’t necessarily have to be flint. Alternatives such as agate, jade, quartz, and chert are all excellent choices, assuming they have about a 7 or 9 on the Mohs hardness scale.

Building a Fire with Flint and Steel

After collecting a decent amount of kindling and tinder, it’s time to build your campfire using flint and steel. To begin, place some small kindling in a teepee shape, leaving the bottom open (this is where tinder is place once ignited). Gather up a small pile of tinder and place it over the top.  While holding the steel in one hand, strike the flint downwards onto the surface of the steel at a 30-degree angle. Ideally, you should use the sharp edge of the flint to peel small pieces off the steel. As the small pieces come off, they’ll land on the tinder, hopefully igniting it. And once the tinder is ignited, you should quickly pick it up and move it underneath  your pile of tinder. Congratulations, you’ve just a built a fire using flint and steel!

Of course, you’ll want to keep your flint and steel dry when camping. If either the flint or steel becomes wet, it may have trouble creating hot embers — hot enough to ignite your tinder and kindling. Some campers place their flint and steel in a sealed plastic bag to keep them dry.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.

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What is a ‘Leave No Trace’ Fire?

1280px-Leave_No_Trace_FireIf you’re an avid outdoorsman who enjoys camping, you may have heard of a “leave no trace” campfire. Campfires are an essential part of camping. They provide warmth, light, heat for cooking, and even a social-friendly environment. So, what is a leave no trace campfire?

A leave no trace campfire isn’t a specific type of campfire. Rather, it refers to the way in which a campfire is created and managed. It follows the seven principles outlined by the nonprofit organization Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, which includes the following:

  • Plan ahead and prepare
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimize campfire impacts
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be considerate of other visitors

The fundamental principle behind a leave no trace campfire is to, well, leave no trace. Campfires typically leave behind some evidence of a fire, such as ashes and leftover/unused firewood. If you want to create a leave no trace campfire, though, you should strive to eliminate evidence such as this. There are several ways to create a “minimum impact” fire, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages.

A mound fire, for instance, is a type of campfire that’s built from a mount of mineral soil (soil containing mostly minerals instead of organic matter) over a fire blanket. Mound fires should be at least 6″ tall and 12-24″ long. After creating the mound of soil, you should form a depression in the center, which is where the actual fire will burn. Mineral soil can be collected from root bulbs.

An alternative to a mound fire is a fire pan. Although it looks like an ordinary frying pan, fire pans are used specifically for building fires. They are used to minimize impact of campfires on the ground, vegetation and environment. A fire pan allows for quick and easy burning, reducing firewood and paper waste to ash, which is contained atop the pan. To use a fire pan, you should place several rocks on the desired area so the heat doesn’t scorch the ground underneath. Next, place the firewood inside the pan and ignite. Fire pans are often preferred when camping because they can be picked up and transported. If you’re in a bind and don’t have access to an actual fire pan, however, you can always use a traditional cooking pan.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.

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Tips on Collecting Firewood for a Campfire

finland-1993709_960_720Once you’ve made your way to the campsite and set up a tent, it’s time to begin collecting firewood. Getting some initial firewood now means you won’t have to try and find it when the sun goes down. But not all wood is suitable for use in a campfire. Some varieties burn more efficiently than others, which is why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the different types.

Avoid Wet Wood

The drier the wood, the hotter and more easily it burns. Therefore, you should avoid picking up wet or damp wood, and instead focus your efforts on wood that “snaps.” If it recently rained, you may have to search for some dry wood. Check under downed trees, against ridges, under debris, etc.

Oak Firewood

There are dozens of different tree varieties in North America, though one of the best for use in a campfire is oak. It’s highly dense, meaning it will burn for a long time once ignited. The only problem with oak is getting it lit. Because of its dense structure, it takes a really hot flame to ignite oak firewood. So, if you’re having trouble getting it lit, consider placing some less-dense firewood underneath and/or using more kindling. Once lit, oak will burn well into the night and possibly the morning.

Maple Firewood

Another excellent type of firewood for a campfire is maple. It’s classified as a deciduous hardwood species, and like oak, maple is also a dense and hot-burning wood. Maple also produces little smoke, making it an excellent choice for social settings such as bonfires where smoke can otherwise be a problem.

What About Rotted Firewood?

If the wood is rotted, it’s best to steer clear and choose different firewood for your campfire. Not only does it contain a higher moisture content, but it’s also less dense, meaning it won’t burn as long. Furthermore, rotted wood produces more smoke, which is something you should try to avoid.

Start Small…

When collecting firewood, pick up small twigs and branches to use when initially lighting your campfire. You can still use tinder and kindling, but you’ll probably need smaller pieces of actual firewood to get it going. But once the fire is going, you can add larger pieces of wood on top, which should keep it burning.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.

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How to Grill a Pork Tenderloin

pork-tenderloin-74328_960_720Pork tenderloin is a juicy, delicious meal that’s surprisingly easy to make. However, there’s a wrong way and a right way to grill a pork tenderloin. Unfortunately, many home chefs approach it the wrong way, resulting in dryness while reducing its flavorful taste. If you’re struggling to grill the perfect pork tenderloin, keep reading for some helpful tips.

Preparing Your Grill

Pork tenderloin is best grilled at low heat, so you need to prepare your grill or fire pit accordingly. Rather than stacking a hot pile of coals in the center, consider placing a thinner layer of coals on the bottom-most rack. This creates more space between the coals and the pork tenderloin, allowing it to cook more slowly and at a lower heat. Alternatively, you can use wood chips, which typically produce less heat than coal.

Preparing Your Pork Tenderloin

To prepare your pork tenderloin for grilling, you’ll need to either season or marinate it. A marinade consisting of olive oil, salt, ground black pepper, garlic and oregano is an excellent combination. Combine the aforementioned ingredients in a bowl, place it in a sealed plastic bag, and add your pork. Allow it to soak for at least two hours, after which the pork should be ready to grill.

Because of its natural juiciness, though, pork tenderloin really doesn’t need much help in terms of seasoning. If you don’t want to mess with a marinade, you can sprinkle some salt and pepper on it.

After marinating and/or seasoning your pork tenderloin, you should wrap it in aluminum foil. This works to keep the juices locked into the tenderloin, preventing it from becoming dry.

Grilling Your Pork Tenderloin

Now it’s time to grill your pork tenderloin. Assuming the coals are mostly white, go ahead and place the pork (wrapped in aluminum foil) on the center of the rack. The time it takes to grill pork tenderloin varies depending on the heat of your grill and the size of the pork. With that said, a good rule of thumb is to grill it for roughly 12-14 minutes, flipping it once halfway through.

When your pork tenderloin is finished grilling, use a meat thermometer to check the temperature, which should read at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as the internal temperature reaches this amount, it’s good to go! However, you should let the pork tenderloin sit for 10 minutes so the juices will settle.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.