Posted on

Exploring Primitive Fire-Building Techniques

Fires have been essential for the survival of humankind. For thousands of years, we’ve relied on fires to cook food to a safe temperature, create warmth to protect against hypothermia, and create light. While we continue to use them for these very same reasons today, fire building is also something that many people take for granted.

You can buy a box of matches for about a buck at most grocery stores. Instead of the exhausting and tedious task of trying to rub two sticks together, you simple strike the match head against the box, at which point it will ignite into fire. Holding the lit match head under your tinder and kindling should then spark your campfire. And using a safety lighter is equally as easy, requiring nothing more than a flick of the thumb.

While matches and lighters are both effective tools for building fires, many people prefer primitive fire-building techniques. Primitive fire building is a survival skill that may one day prove useful. If you’re ever lost or otherwise stranded without access to modern fire-building tools, you can use these methods to create a fire. Furthermore, primitive fire building is always fun show off when camping with friends, even if you have access to matches or a lighter. So, what are some of the most commonly used primitive fire-building techniques?

The Hand Drill

If you watch survival TV shows, you’ve probably seen the hand drill method. It involves the use of a small but sturdy softwood stick with one end carved down to a rounded point, as well as a softwood fireboard. Once you’ve acquired these two items, you’ll need to grind the stick into a notch at the base of the fireboard. By grinding the stick back and forth between your hands, you’ll create friction — and this friction creates heat, which will hopefully create a hot coal that you can then place in your tinder. The hand drill is often preferred over other primitive fire-building methods because of simplicity.

The Bow Drill

Another popular primitive fire-building technique is the bow drill. It’s similar to the hand drill but with a few nuances. Both the hand drill and bow drill method use friction to create heat; however, the latter requires a shorter and wider spindle that’s driven by a bow. By using a bow to drive the stick into the fireboard, this technique allows for easier strokes while minimizing fatigue and exhaustion in the process. Furthermore, the bow drill method of fire-building protects the user’s palms from injury, which is a huge benefit when you don’t have access to medical supplies.

The Fire Plough

Also known as the fire plow, the fire plough is a primitive fire-building technique that involves the use of a softwood stick with a dull point and a long fireboard made of similar material with a groove in the center. When you hear about making fire by “rubbing two sticks together,” this is usually the method being discussed. You press the softwood stick into the groove of the fireboard and rub it together between the palms of your hands in a plowing motion (hence the name). Eventually this will create a hot coal, which you can place in tinder to get your fire going.

Fire Saw

A lesser-known primitive fire-building technique is the fire saw. To create a fire using this method, you’ll need to saw into a piece of thick wood using another piece of wood. The fire saw method requires two basic components: the saw and hearth. The saw is the piece of wood that you physically move and back and forth to create friction. The hearth is the piece of wood that you saw into. Although simple in design, the fire saw method can be tedious and physically exhausting to perform.

There’s a variation of the fire saw method known as the fire thong. It’s performed in a similar manner, but it uses a pullstring consisting of wood fiber or rope. The fire thong method is most commonly used in Southeast Asia by native tribes.

Other Tips for Primitive Fire Building

Regardless of which primitive fire-building technique you prefer, there are a few things you can do to increase your chance of success. First and foremost, use the driest wood possible. If the wood contains too much moisture, you may struggle to create coals, let alone getting your campfire lit. You can often find dry wood, tinder and kindling under large tree canopies that’s covered and protected from the rain.

The primitive fire-building techniques listed above are designed to create hot coals, which you can then use to start your fire. You shouldn’t just drop these coals onto your firewood, however. Rather, place place them on a ball of tinder, at which point you should gently blow to help spread the heat. When performed correctly, the heat from the coal will ignite the tinder into a ball of flame. And once your tinder is lit, you can place it under your firewood to ignite your campfire.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

Posted on

9 Mistakes to Avoid When Grilling Steak

Nothing compares to the rich flavor and tender texture of a grilled steak. It’s the preferred choice of meat for countless home chefs. But if you’re planning to grill steaks, you should avoid making the following mistakes.

#1) Not Covering Steaks in Butter or Oil

Why do you need to cover your steaks in butter or oil? Well, doing so serves two specific purposes: first, it encourages the seasoning to stick to the steak. Secondly, it prevents your steak from sticking to the grill. So, try to get into the habit of covering your steaks with butter, olive oil, vegetable oil or some other oil before seasoning them.

#2) Using Lighter Fluid

If you’re having trouble lighting your coals, you may feel compelled to douse it with lighter fluid. Unfortunately, this is a serious mistake that will negatively affect the flavor of your steak. The chemical-rich lighter fluid will release fumes when burned that soak into the steak, essentially altering its flavor. Rather than using lighter fluid, a better way to your fire starter is to use a charcoal chimney. After placing newspaper at the bottom, fill it with charcoal and light the bottom.

#3) Placing Steaks on a Dirty Grate

Another common mistake that you’ll want to avoid is placing steaks on a dirty grill grate. If you don’t clean the grate after each use, food particles will harden onto it. In addition to making your steaks stick, this also promotes rust and corrosion. You can clean your grill grates using a basic grill brush and a little bit of water.

#4) Not Letting Steaks Sit Before Cooking

Many home chefs toss their steaks on the grill immediately after removing them from the refrigerator and seasoning them. A better solution, however, is to let your steaks sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, no more or no less, so the protein enzymes will begin to break down. The general idea is that allowing a steak to sit at room temperature helps it become more tender. So, start a timer once you remove your steaks from the refrigerator, and when it hits the 20-minute mark, toss them on the grill.

#5) Cooking with Too Much Heat

The general belief is that the hotter the fire, the better the steak, as heat creates a nice seared/charred texture on the outside. The truth of the matter, however, is that too much heat will burn the outside of your steaks. If you’re looking to achieve a Pittsburgh-style steak, this is perfectly fine. For all other occasions, though, you should avoid this by evenly distributing your coals across the bottom of your grill or fire pit.

#6) Lifting the Lid Too Frequently

When you’re grilling some delicious filet mignon, you may want to check and see how it’s doing on a regular basis. But each time you open the lid, it disturbs the heat while subsequently affecting the way in which your steaks grill. For traditional charcoal-flamed grills and fire pits, opening the lid allows air to enter, which then increases the heat. To promote an even, thorough cooking, avoid lifting the lid while your steaks are cooking. You should only lift the lid when you need to flip or remove the steaks.

#7) Choosing the Wrong Cut

Not all steaks are created equal, and it’s important to choose the right type when grilling them. Generally speaking, the most common cuts of steak include filet mignon, sirloin, ribeye, New York strip and Porterhouse. Of all the different cuts, filet mignon is the most tender with the least amount of fat. However, it’s also the most expensive (by weight). In terms of flavor, most chefs will agree that a ribeye is the best, simply because it contains more marbling (fat). Familiarize yourself with the different cuts of steak and choose the one that’s best suited for your personal taste.

#8) Grilling Too Many Things at Once

Try to limit the number of foods you grill at once. If you’re grilling steak alongside shrimp, vegetable skewers and other foods, it may cause cross-contamination. Bacteria from the steaks may seep into the nearby foods, essentially contaminating them. And even if it doesn’t cause cross-contamination, grilling steaks next to other foods will affect the flavor at the very least. Your steaks may have a hint of flavor from the other foods. To prevent problems such as these, either grill your steaks separately or keep them far away from the other foods.

#9) Cutting Into the Steaks Immediately After Grilling

Yet another mistake that you’ll want to avoid making is cutting into your steaks immediately after grilling them. Maybe you want to see if they are cooked all the way through, so you cut the center with a knife. Seems harmless, right? Unfortunately, if you cut your steaks immediately after removing them from the grill, the juices won’t have time to settle; thus, they’ll run out of the steak, resulting in a dry texture and lackluster flavor. Let your steaks sit for at least three minutes before cutting into them.

These are just a few of the most common mistakes home chefs make when grilling steaks.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

Posted on

The Do’s and Don’ts of Using a Fire Pit on a Wooden Deck

37-Hemi-on-flanged base-with-SnufferA fire pit is a simple accessory that will enhance your home’s outdoor living space. In addition to cooking over an open flame, it creates a relaxing ambiance that you and your guests are sure to enjoy.

But if you’re planning to use your fire pit on a wooden deck, there are a few things you should know. Keep reading for a complete list of do’s and don’t when using a fire pit on a wooden deck.

Do Clean Your Deck Before Lighting Fire Pit

It’s a good idea to clean your deck before lighting your fire pit. Depending on your proximity to nearby trees, pine straw, leaves and other debris may accumulate on your deck.

Assuming they are dry, these things can easily spark an unwanted fire. A stray ember may land on nearby debris, setting it ablaze.

So, using either a push broom or leaf blower, clean your deck before lighting your fire pit.

Don’t Place Your Fire Pit Against the Side of Your Home

Arguably, the single most important safety tip to follow when using a fire pit is to keep it at least 20 feet away from your home and all other flammable structures. Some homeowners place it right up against their home’s siding for “convenience.”

You have to remember, though, that fire pits put out a lot of heat — and too much heat can damage your home’s siding or even set it ablaze. So, remember to keep your fire pit at least 20 feet away from your home and all other structures.

Do Dispose of the Ashes After Fire Pit Has Cooled

You should also dispose of your fire pit’s ashes after it has cooled. Allowing the ashes to sit inside your fire pit for days (or longer) is never a good idea. Some of the ashes may blow out and onto your deck, or they may soak up moisture and contribute to corrosion.

Either way, these problems are easily prevented by waiting at least 24 hours and then shoveling the ashes into a metal bucket or similar metal container.

Alternatively, you can save your fire pit ashes to use as garden compost, insect repellent or other purposes.

For a list of 10 everyday uses for fire pit ash, check out our previous blog post here.

Don’t Place Your Fire Pit Directly on the Wooden Deck

Avoid placing your fire pit directly on your deck or other wooden surfaces. While heat rises — meaning most of the heat created by your fire pit will be projected upwards — the bottom may still contain enough heat to singe or otherwise burn your deck.

You can protect your wooden deck from such damage, however, by placing something between it and your fire pit. A small grid of pavers should do the job. Simply arrange the pavers to cover the area of the deck where you’d like to use it, after which you can place the fire pit on top.

Another idea is to use a special heat-resistant fire pit mat, which as the name suggests is designed to withstand the 450+ degree temperature of a fire pit. Either way, you need something underneath your fire pit to protect your wooden deck from damage.

Do Keep Water Nearby

fire-279748_960_720It’s always better to be over-prepared than underprepared. While it’s doubtful you’ll ever need, you should keep water near your fire pit in case the fire spreads outside of the pit.

A pitcher, large bucket or even a garden hose will all suffice for this purpose. In the unlikely event that you see a secondary fire, you should douse it with water ASAP.

Don’t Use Lighter Fluid

There’s really no point in using lighter fluid in a fire pit. Assuming you use dry, seasoned wood, it should ignite with little effort. You can add some tinder and kindling to the middle to help get it going.

Simply position your wood so it’s propped up with the center empty and allowing for air to pass through. Lighting some tinder and kindling in the middle will then get your fire going.

Adding lighter fluid isn’t recommended, as it increases the risk of injury and property damage.

Do Check for Local Ordinances

You might be surprised to learn that some cities and municipalities have laws regarding the use of fire pits and other open flames. Some, for instance, only allow then on decks when they are at least 20 feet away from your home. So, before using your fire pit on a wooden deck, check to see what (if any) ordinances are in place for your area.

Don’t Leave it Unattended

Finally, never leave your fire pit burning attended. If you need to run to the store, ask a family member or friend to watch it. This rule isn’t limited strictly to fire pits; it applies to all fires.

An unattended fire could spark a secondary fire, and without something there to douse it with water, it could cause significant property damage or bodily injury.

These are just a few do’s and don’ts to follow when using a fire pit on a wooden deck.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

Posted on

8 Simple Tips to Make Your Fire Pit Last

36 Elliptical Decorative

30 Mid Century Modern PitHumans have been building fire pits ever since the Stone Age. While these were rudimentary — consisting of nothing more than holes dug into ground — they were still critical in allowing our ancestors to cook meat and survive the harsh winter temperatures.

Today, we continue to use fire pits for these and other reasons. According to a survey conducted by the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA), fire pits are the second most popular outdoor furnishing, only behind chairs. But if you plan on buying a fire pit, you’ll need to maintain it. By following the tips listed below, you can make your fire pit last for countless years to come.

#1) Choose a High-Quality Fire Pit

Arguably, the most important thing you can do is choose a high-quality fire pit, such as those offered here at S&S Fire Pit. While other companies mass produce their fire pits overseas, we handcraft each and every fire pit here in the United States. On average, it takes at least four hours for us to complete a single fire pit, so you can rest assured knowing you are getting the highest quality available.

#2) Watch What You Burn

When using your fire pit, you should avoid burning trash or pressure-treated lumber. Instead, choose natural, locally sourced wood that’s dry and not wet. Burning trash and/or pressure-treated lumber may release toxic fumes and chemicals, some of which may damage your fire pit over time (not to mention it’s bad for your health). And wet wood simply doesn’t burn as easily, so you may struggle to get it lit.

#3) Don’t Use Lighter Fluid

Assuming you use dry wood, you should be able to light your fire pit using nothing more than small pieces of tinder and kindling. You shouldn’t, however, use lighter fluid to get it going. Aside from the risk of bodily harm and property damage it poses, lighter fluid may damage the finish on your fire pit. It’s doubtful any noticeable damage will occur after just one or two uses of lighter fluid. Nonetheless, it’s best to err on the side of caution by avoiding lighter fluid altogether.

If you struggle to light your fire pit, check out our previous blog post here for some helpful tips.

#4) Allow Fire to Extinguish Naturally

Sure, it’s easier and faster to extinguish your fire pit by dousing it with water, but this increases the risk of damage. Unless it’s an emergency situation and you need to get the fire out ASAP, you should await for the fire to extinguish naturally. Dousing a still-burning fire pit with water causes sudden temperature changes. The 1,000-degree fire is suddenly cooled, which can lead to weaken the fire pit’s structural integrity.

#5) Clean the Grate Before and After Cooking

If you use your fire pit for cooking — as most owners do — you should clean the grate both before and after cooking on it. A wire grill brush is an excellent accessory that every home chef needs. Using a wire brush, you can scrub your fire pit’s grate to remove any stubborn food or debris. Failure to do so will result in food particles hardening onto the grate.

Also, consider applying a cooking oil over the grate before adding your food. A thin layer of vegetable oil will “season” it, while also discouraging rust and corrosion. You can experiment with different types of cooking oils, though many home chefs prefer traditional vegetable oil because of its high smoking point and ease of use.

#6) Keep it Covered

Fire Pit Party01Don’t leave your fire pit exposed to the elements. Ideally, you should either place it under a covered area or use a grill cover to protect it from the rain. Without some type of protection, your fire pit will get soaked — and this can lead to rust and corrosion. Keeping your fire pit dry is essential to preserving its structural integrity and original appearance. This isn’t limited strictly to fire pits, however; this applies to all steel and iron-containing metal accessories.

#7) Remove Ashes

When you are finished using your fire pit, wait at least 24 hours for the fire to extinguish and the ash to cool. Once it has cooled, you can dispose of the ash by scooping it out with a shovel and transferring it to a safe, non-flammable metal container. Never attempt to remove ash that’s still hot. Even if it looks gray and cool-to-the-touch, it could hold enough heat to spark a second fire.

#8) Wipe Off Soot and Residue

When fire pits burn, they’ll produce small amounts of smoke. And within this smoke is soot, which can stick to the surface of your fire pit. Soot isn’t a serious concern, but it’s a good idea to remove it nonetheless. After your fire pit has cooled (about 24 hours), wipe down the surface with a damp paper towel. You don’t have to use any special cleaning products, as a small amount of water should suffice, leaving your fire pit looking nice and clean.

Following the tips listed here will allow you to get more use and enjoyment out of your fire pit.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/