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Top 7 Benefits of Bench Seating for the Patio

Seating is an essential element of a well-designed patio. Without proper seating, you won’t be able to relax and unwind on your patio — not without standing, at least. But while there are dozens of different seating options for outdoor living spaces, few offer the same level of versatility as a bench. So, if you’re looking to update your patio with new seating, you should consider a bench for the following reasons.

#1) Encourages Conversation

The #1 benefit of bench seating is its natural ability to encourage conversations. After all, a bench is where Forest Gump spent most of his time telling his life story in the hit 1990s blockbuster movie. When two people are sitting together on a bench, they’ll feel a closer connection, both literally and figuratively. So, while traditional seating options like chairs create a distance between two people, benches bring them together; thus, encouraging conversation.

#2) Durable

A high-quality bench is perhaps the most durable seating option for the patio. As most homeowners already know, chairs made of plastic and other low-quality materials are susceptible to breakage. They may hold up just for fine for several months or even years, only to fall apart the next time you sit down. And when a plastic chair breaks, it’s nearly impossible to fix. Fixing a broken wooden chair may or may not be possible, depending on where the damage occurred.

Benches, however, offer a superior level of strength and durability. You don’t have to worry about it falling apart or otherwise breaking. Assuming it’s made of genuine hardwood, it can literally last for generations when properly cared for.

#3) Saves Space

A benefit of bench seating that’s often overlooked is its ability to save space. Due to their inherit design, benches are naturally a great seating option for tight spaces. If your patio has a limited amount of space, you’ll need to carefully choose the right furniture. Rather than cramming four bulky chairs into your patio, for instance, maybe you can use a single bench with a side chair.

How exactly does a bench save space? Well, it does so by allowing multiple people to sit. Depending on the specific type of bench, it may support two, three or even four people. That means a single bench offers the seating equivalent of up to four chairs.

#4) Easy to Clean

Of course, benches are also easy to clean, typically requiring nothing more than an occasional wipe down with a damp washcloth. For more stubborn dirt — pollen, mud, mildew, etc. — you can add some liquid laundry detergent. In addition to making your bench look 10 years younger, laundry detergent will also leave it smelling nice and fresh.

Alternatively, you can often clean minor “surface” dirt by rinsing your bench with a garden hose. As long as the dirt hasn’t settled into the bench’s pores, this should do the trick. Some people assume that pressure washing is the best way to clean a bench, but the high pressure could actually strip away the coating or even take chunks out of the bench’s wooden material. To prevent this from happening with your bench, stick with the garden hose and washcloth methods.

 

#5) Stable

Benches aren’t just durable; they are also stable. This is particularly important for homeowners living in areas prone to hurricanes and severe weather. If a storm front rolls through, the strong gusts of wind may blow over patio chairs and tables. Benches, however, can typically withstand severe weather by remaining in place.

The exceptional stability of benches is also good for theft prevention. It’s not something that most homeowners want to think about, but there are thieves out there who will steal just about anything, including patio furniture.

#6) Decorative

We can’t talk about the benefits of bench seating without mentioning aesthetics. Granted, benches are available in dozens if not hundreds of different styles. Whether you prefer the classic wooden style, rustic or a newer and more modern style, you can rest assured knowing that it will look great on your patio.

#7) Weather Resistant

Finally, most benches are designed to be weather resistant. Manufacturers add a protective coating on the outside that prevents the intrusion of moisture and germs. Furthermore, some benches are designed with a UV-protectant coating, which as the name suggests, protects against fading caused by the sun’s ultraviolet light. And even if your bench doesn’t have a protective coating such as this, you can easily apply one using a standard paintbrush.

 

These are just a few reasons why benches make the perfect seating for patios and outdoor living spaces. When choosing a patio, however, you should consider the material from which it is made as well as the size. Wood is the most popular choice of material for benches, though cast iron is a popular alternative.

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/

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How to Prevent Flare-Ups When Grilling

Flare-ups are a common problem when grilling food, especially meats. Whether it’s beef, pork, lamb, chicken or fish, meat has a tendency to flare up when grilled. When this occurs, the red-hot coals turn into a tall flame, essentially charring the meat. While a single, small flare-up shouldn’t hurt your food, consistent flare ups can burn the exterior while also making it dry and less juicy. So, how can you can prevent flare-ups when grilling?

Choose Lean Meats

Normally, flare-ups are triggered by excess animal fat dripping down onto the hot coals. When the fat reaches the hot coals, it ignites; thus, causing a tall but short-lived flame known as a flare-up. You can often prevent flare-ups, however, by choosing lean meats. If you’re making hamburgers, for instance, choose ground beef that’s 90% lean and 10% fat. Or if you’re grilling steaks, stick with lean cuts like filet mignon and sirloin instead of a New York strip or ribeye.

Cut Back on the Oil

In addition to choosing lean meats, you can also reduce the risk of flare-ups when grilling by using less oil. Cooking oil is often applied either to the meat being grilled or the grill itself. When applied to the meat, it helps the seasoning stick while also creating a non-stick surface. When applied to the grill grate, it further prevents the meat from sticking. Unfortunately, however, oil has a similar effect as animal fat when exposed to hot coals. As the oil drips down onto the coals, it triggers a flare-up. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stop using oil when grilling. Rather, try using less oil.

When it comes to oiling a grill grate or meat, follow the “less is more” approach. Use a brush to apply a small, thin layer of oil on the surface of your grill grate or meat. As long as there’s no excess oil that’s dripping, it shouldn’t cause a flare-up.

Trim the Fat

A third tip for preventing flare-ups is to trim fat from your meat before grilling it. Even if you choose lean cuts, it probably still has some fat — and that’s okay. Rather than allowing this fat to burn on the grill — and cause a flareup — consider trimming it. Using a sharp knife and cutting board, slice away the excess fat.

Open the Lid

Should you grill with the lid open or closed? Grilling with the lid closed creates more heat, whereas grilling with the lid open creates less heat. The latter, also known as “grill roasting,” reduces the risk of flare-ups by exposing your food to lower temperatures and less direct heat. With that said, however, grilling with the lid open doesn’t cook food as thoroughly and evenly as grilling with the lid closed, so you really need to consider what you are grilling. As long as it’s not too thick and doesn’t require significant heat, an open-lid grill should suffice.

Clean Your Grill

Don’t underestimate the importance of cleaning your grill, either before or after every use. Failure to clean your grill will result in the accumulation of fat and oil drippings, which can flare up the next time you use it. Additionally, it contributes to rust and corrosion by holding moisture. These problems are easily prevented by using a wire brush and paper towels to clean this debris. So, try to get into the habit of cleaning your grill before or every after use. Even if you only use it to grill a couple burgers, you should still clean it to prevent flare-ups and protect against rusting.

Grill Away from the Wind

Another contributing factor to flare-ups when grilling is wind. Going back to the basics of firemaking 101, wind intensifies flames by fueling it with oxygen. As wind pushes through the flame, the additional oxygen causes it to flare up. While you can’t necessarily control mother nature, you can choose an area to grill that’s protected from the wind. Before lighting your grill, find an area with a wind break. Grilling on your front porch instead of back — or vise-versa — is another idea that can protect your grill from the wind.

Don’t Extinguish with Water!

If a flare-up occurs when you are grilling, don’t attempt to extinguish it with water. Conventional wisdom may lead you to believe that spraying the grill with a water bottle with extinguish the flare-up. Like a grease fire in the kitchen, however, water is ineffective for this purpose. Furthermore, spraying your grill may cause wet ash to reach your food. If you notice your grill flaring up, open the lid and wait for it to burn out. Because flare-ups are caused by excess fat or oil, they usually burn out after just a few seconds.

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/

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Campfire-Building Tips for Wet, Rainy Weather

Wouldn’t it be great if the weather was warm and sunny every time you went camping? Weather such as this is ideal for camping. You don’t have to worry about your gear being washed away, nor do you have to worry about starting your campfire.

Unfortunately, there will be times when mother nature throws you a curve ball by bringing severe rain and storms during your camping trip. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or first-timer, you probably know that campfires are difficult to make in wet conditions. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should pack up and head home, however. With the right approach, you can successfully build a roaring campfire in rainy weather.

Choose a Covered Location to Build Your Campfire

Perhaps the most important step in building a campfire in the rain is choosing the right location. If it’s raining, conventional wisdom should tell you that a covered campsite is necessary to your fire going. While it’s possible to build a campfire in a location that’s directly exposed to rain, you’ll have a much easier time if the area is covered.

Look for an area that offers some form of natural coverage and protection from the rain. Assuming you’re camping in the middle of woods, you probably won’t be able to find an area with complete, 100% coverage. You can, however, choose an area with a thick, dense tree canopy to shield your campfire from at least some of the rain. Tree canopies offer excellent protection from the rain, catching and distributing the water away from the base of the tree. Therefore, you’ll have an easier time building a campfire under a dense tree canopy if it’s raining.

Use a Fire Pit

In addition to building your campfire under a covered area, you should also consider using a fire pit. Using a portable fire pit, such as those offered here at S&S Fire Pit, you can further protect your campfire from the rain by keeping it off the ground.

Moisture from rain doesn’t come strictly from the skies; it also comes from the ground. When it rains, the ground will absorb and hold moisture, making it difficult to start a campfire. Instead of trying to build a campfire on the wet, water-logged soil, however, you can build it in a dry fire pit.

Strip Away the Outer Bark

You’ll need to collect the driest firewood possible to get your campfire going in the rain. Not surprisingly, downed limbs under dense canopies are usually the best source for such firewood.

After collecting a decent amount of firewood, use a sharp knife to remove the outer layer of bark. Even if the firewood looks dry, it’s probably holding some moisture due to the increased humidity levels accompanied with the rain. Being that the inner core of the wood is typically drier than the outside, however, you can strip away the outer layers so it lights more easily. Using a sharp knife, carefully scrape away the outer layers of your firewood, after which you should place the firewood directly in your fire pit until you’re ready to light it.

Use Lots of Kindling

Want to know the secret to building a roaring-hot campfire in the rain? It’s using kindling, lots of kindling. Basically, wet wood requires hotter temperatures to ignite. And in order to create these hot temperatures, you need plenty of kindling. Tinder — the smaller stuff — is still important, but it’s the kindling that will ultimately create the hot flame needed for a campfire in the rain.

When gathering small sticks and twigs to use as kindling, make sure they are relatively dry. Like larger pieces of firewood, you can also strip away the outer layer so they light more easily. Once you’ve gathered the kindling, arrange it at the base of your campfire with the larger pieces of firewood on the outside. The key thing to remember is that the center of your campfire should be somewhat open so that air can flow through.

Beware of the Smoke

Wet firewood doesn’t burn as “completely” or efficiently as dry, seasoned firewood. This means campfires built in rainy weather or other wet conditions will produce more smoke — and that smoke could pose a risk to your health.

While some people prefer the distinct smell of campfire smoke, you should keep your distance and avoid inhaling it, especially if the wood is wet. Wet firewood produces more smoke when burned than dry firewood, making it more hazardous to your health. The good news is that you can easily avoid your campfire’s smoke by positioning yourself in the opposite direction of the wind. If the wind is blowing south, for instance, position yourself north of your campfire.

Building a campfire in the rain isn’t always easy. You’ll need to choose a covered location, find dry or semi-dry firewood, use plenty of kindling and more. However, once you get it going you’ll be able to enjoy the warmth and relaxing ambiance it offers during this otherwise messy weather. Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of how to create a campfire in rainy weather.

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/

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How to Use a Chimney Starter When Grilling

There are several advantages to grilling food over a coal fire. With charcoal briquettes reaching temperatures of 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit, they tend to produce more heat than conventional wood-burning fires. And with this heat, you’ll have an easier to creating a nice charred outside on your grilled meats and foods. Additionally, charcoal burns more efficiently and produces less smoke than wood. Of course, there are still benefits to grilling over a wood fire, but for these reasons many people prefer charcoal.

One of the problems of using charcoal, however, is getting it lit. Dry, seasoned wood easily burns when used in conjunction with kindling and tinder. Coal, however, can take a little bit of work to get going. Rather than wasting an entire box of matches, you should consider using a chimney starter. This otherwise simple tool will make lighting a charcoal fire ten times easier.

What is a Chimney Starter?

Also known as a charcoal chimney, a chimney starter lives up to its namesake by simplifying the process of starting a charcoal fire. As shown in the photo above, it’s a cylinder-shaped metal device (usually steel) that holds coals. Most chimney starters are about 8 inches in diameter and 12 to 18 inches tall. A few inches from the bottom is a grate with several small holes, allowing air to flow from the bottom and through the charcoal.

You’ll also notice that most chimney starters have a single handle attached to the exterior, along with a safety heat guard to protect the user’s hand from injury. The handles are insulated, so you don’t have to worry about burning yourself when using them. However, you should still use extreme caution when moving or even touching a chimney starter that contains hot coals.

Benefits of Using a Chimney Starter

Chimney starters have one primary purpose: to make lighting charcoals easier. Lighter fluid may sound like an effective alternative, but it isn’t recommended for several reasons. First and foremost, lighter fluid is dangerous and can cause serious injury when used incorrectly (hundreds of people are injured each year from using it). Secondly, lighter fluid produces noxious fumes when burned. Do you really want these fumes reaching the food you are about to grill?

A chimney starter is a simple solution to getting a stubborn charcoal fire going. You don’t have to use any lighter fluid. Just fill the chimney with coals, add your newspaper, and it does the rest. And contrary to what some people may believe, chimney starters aren’t expensive. Even if your grill didn’t come with a chimney starter, you can usually buy them for about $10 to $20 bucks at most major home improvement stores, which is a small price to pay for the convenience they offer.

Now that you know a little bit about chimney starters and the benefits they offer, let’s take a look at the steps to using them…

How to Use a Chimney Starter

To use a chimney starter, you should first remove the cooking grate from inside your grill. Next, fill your chimney starter with your preferred charcoal all the way to the top. You may need to gently shake the chimney to help knock down the coals if they get stuck.

Once your chimney starter is full, place a piece of a newspaper inside the bottom of your grill, after which you should place the chimney starter over it. You can then light the newspaper, which should ignite the bottom of the chimney starter and eventually all of the charcoal. As the bottom of your chimney starter heats up, it will easily ignite the coals with the help of increased airflow.

Now comes the waiting game. As most backyard chefs know, coals are ready for grilling once they’ve reaches a glowing orange-white color. This characteristic color indicates the coals are hot and ready to be used for cooking. Depending on the size of your chimney starter, the condition of your coals and the surrounding humidity, it should take between 20 and 30 minutes for your coals to reach this state.

Next, carefully lift the chimney starter by the handle and dump the hot coals into the bottom of your grill. You may want to wear heat-resistant gloves to further protect your hands from injury when performing this step. Once you’ve dumped the coals into your grill, use a poker or similar tool to spread them evenly across the bottom. Congratulations, your charcoal grill is now ready for cooking! Keep in mind that coals won’t stay hot forever, so don’t wait too long to add your food.

This is the traditional method for using a chimney stater. Some people, however, cook foods directly over the chimney itself without ever dumping the coals. It produces intense heat, making it an excellent tool for searing the outside of meats.

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/

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Why Your Patio Needs a Fire Pit This Fall Season

For many homeowners, fall signals the end of outdoor parties and gatherings. Once the summer comes to an end and the temperatures begin the drop, they head indoors. While there’s nothing wrong spending some extra time indoors during the fall, you can still enjoy your patio and other outdoor living spaces this time of year with the help of a fire pit.

Provides and Promotes Social Gathering

This alone should be reason enough to update your patio with a fire pit this fall. When the weather begins to cool, you may find staying outdoors is simply too uncomfortable. With a fire pit, however, you can create a warm and cozy environment on your patio or outdoor living space. Fire pits are capable of producing significant heat, usually around 20,000 to 50,000 British Thermal Units (BTU). That’s more than enough to keep you and anyone else around the pit comfortably warm providing a cool space to socially gather and entertain your guests. 

It’s a Top Design Trend

According to the 2016 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), fire pits are one of the top outdoor design trends for homes and residential properties. According to the survey, homeowners prefer fire pits over rain gardens, water-efficient irrigation and a reduced lawn area. The only outdoor design trends that ranked higher than fire pits was a lighting and wireless connectivity.

Cooking

Of course, you can always use your fire pit for cooking as well. Just because summer is over doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stop your backyard barbecues. A fire pit is the perfect outdoor cooking accessory, as it allows you to easily grill and cook food over an open fire. Whether it’s burgers, hamburgers, pork chops, chicken, shrimp, etc., the possibilities are endless. And because it uses an open, wood-burning flame (not a propane flame), food cooked over fire pits typically have a distinct smokey flavor that many people prefer. Just remember to clean the grill grate on a regular basis to protect it from rusting.

Portable

Not all fire pits are portable; some are stationary and cannot be easily moved. Assuming you buy your fire pit here at S&S Fire Pit, however, you can easily transport it. This opens the doors to a whole new world of options, allowing you to take your fire pit camping, tailgating or to your other people’s homes. If you plan on moving your fire pit, though, make sure it’s completely cool before touching it.

Roasting Marshmallows

Even if you don’t plan to cook over your fire pit this fall, you still use it to roast marshmallows, S’mores or other goodies. Just skewer up some marshmallows and hold them over the fire for a fun and delightful treat. Roasted marshmallows and s’mores are particularly fun treats for children. So, if you’re planning an outdoor party or get-together with children this fall, make sure you have a fire pit set up.

 

Lighting

When you think of the benefits of owning and using a fire pit, lighting probably doesn’t come to mind. After all, most people use them for cooking and warmth. While fire pits are excellent for cooking and creating warmth, however, they can also be used to illuminate your patio or outdoor living area. If you’re tired of replacing the overhead light bulb on your patio that keeps blowing, consider using a fire pit as an alternative. Once lit, it will illuminate your patio, even on the darkest of nights.

Ambiance

Let’s face it, fire pits offer a uniquely relaxing and enjoyable ambiance that’s not found elsewhere. When you’re enjoying a nice evening on your patio this fall, you can spark up the fire pit to create a more relaxing atmosphere. Studies have shown that fires — whether from a campfire or fire pit — reduce stress and anxiety. Perhaps this is why we’ve been gathering around them for thousands of years. When used on your patio, a fire pit will have a similar effect, creating a relaxing ambiance that you and your guests are sure to appreciate.

Focal Point

Finally, including a fire pit on your patio will also create a natural focus point. Rather than randomly arranging your chairs and seating, you can arrange them around the outside of the fire pit, facing towards the fire pit. Not only will this create a more effective design layout for your patio, but it also encourages guests to use and enjoy the fire pit.

These are just a few reasons why your patio needs a fire pit this fall. The truth is that you’ll probably find more uses once you actually own one.

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/