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Why (and How) to Oil Your Grill Grate

IMG_0948Whether you cook over a fire pit or a charcoal/gas grill, you should oil the grate before adding the food. It only takes a few minutes, but doing so offers several key benefits, some of which we’re going to discuss.

Protects Grate from Rusting

Grill grates — like all metallic objects containing iron — have a tendency to rust. This isn’t something that happens overnight. Rather, it takes months or years for them to develop any noticeable rust. Once this occurs, however, the corrosion can eat its way through the metal if left unchecked.

There are ways to protect your grate from rusting, one of which is covering your fire pit or grill so it’s not exposed to the rain and elements. Rust occurs when iron “oxidizes” with oxygen or moisture. So, covering your grate is an simple and effective way to prevent this from occurring. Furthermore, you can protect your grate from rusting by applying oil to it. Oil acts as a barrier between the metal within the grate and the moisture in the air.

Prevents Food from Sticking

In addition to protecting your grate from rusting, applying oil also keeps food from sticking. As any backyard barbecuer knows, food shouldn’t stick to the grate when grilling. If it does, the outer layer — along with all of the delicious seasoning — will be ripped off. The easiest way to prevent this from happening is to oil your grate before adding the food. With a coating of oil over the grate, there’s a significantly lower risk of your food sticking.

How to Oil Your Grill Grate

Before we begin, it’s important to note that you should only oil the grate before starting the fire. Do not attempt to oil it if the coals are burning, as some cooking oils are flammable.

Assuming your grill is cool, you can oil your grill in one of several ways: one of the easiest is to apply a spray-based cooking oil. Simply spray the oil over the grate, after which you can add your food. Alternatively, you can brush the oil over the grate using a cooking brush. You don’t need a lot of oil. Place a small amount in a bowl, dip the brush into the bowl, and rub it across the grate until there’s a nice, even coating throughout.

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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What’s the Best Wood to Burn in a Campfire?

bonfire-1835829_960_720111This is a question many campers ask. While all North American wood can burn, some is better than others. Choosing the right type of wood is important because it allows for a hotter, more efficient campfire that’s less likely to go out. So, which type of wood should you use?

Oak

Arguably, one of the best wood types to burn in a campfire is oak. Assuming it’s dry, oak produces substantial heat while burning slow and steady. Oak is also readily available throughout much of the country, making it easy for campers to find. According to Wikipedia, North America has the largest number of oak species, followed by  Mexico.

Hickory

Hickory firewood is one of the best woods for burning. Hickory is even hotter burning than oak, maple and other popular hardwoods.  Hickory is a dense hardwood that can be tough to split, but holds little moisture and burns very well.  Hickory is also very popular for cooking.

Ash

Fraxinus, or what’s more commonly known as ash, is a genus of trees in the Oleaceae family. There are about 50 different species, some of which are evergreen while others are deciduous. Ash wood is known as some of the best firewood in the world. It burns easily, retains minimal moisture, and doesn’t produce a lot of smoke. These characteristics make it ideal for use in a campfire. And unlike other wood types, ash will even burn when green. If you find some ash wood lying around your campsite, try burning it.

Cedar

If you’re building a campfire to stay warm, look for cedar wood to burn. It doesn’t produce as large of a flame as some of the other wood types mentioned, but what it lacks in flame size it makes up in heat. Cedar produces excellent heat, making it the perfect choice for firewood to burn on an otherwise chilly night. Furthermore, cedar has a unique and pleasing aroma that’s not found elsewhere. It’s a subtle yet distinct aroma that most people enjoy. Of course, this is why some furniture polish and other consumer products feature the cedar scent.

Some of the wood types that you should avoid burning in your campfire include the following:

  • Poplar
  • Spruce
  • Willow
  • Alder

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 Make the Perfect Grilled Chicken

grilled-923097_960_720Chicken is one of the most delicious and versatile meats on the planet. It’s low in fat, loaded in protein, and you can prepare it hundreds of different ways. While baked chicken can be delicious, it pales in comparison to the distinct smokey flavor or grilling it. However, there are a few things you should know to make the perfect grilled chicken.

Thaw Before Grilling

If you want to grill frozen chicken, let it thaw before tossing it on the grill. Cooking frozen chicken will release a substantial amount of moisture, and it also prevents the meat from cooking evenly. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t grill frozen chicken to a safe temperature, but rather it won’t turn out as delicious as grilling thawed chicken.

Marinate Chicken Before Grilling

One of the biggest problems home chefs encounter when grilling chicken is having it come out to dry. This isn’t limited strictly to chicken; grilling many types of meats causes dryness. You can keep your chicken moist, however, by marinating it beforehand. To do this, fill a large Ziplock bag with 1-2 tablespoons of olive olive, 2 tablespoons of water, salt, paper, garlic and any other seasonings you prefer. Place your chicken inside and let it sit for at least an hour in the refrigerator, after which you can toss it on the grill. The marinade will soak into the chicken, making it nice and moist when it’s done grilling.

Wait for the Grill to Get Hot

Whether you’re grilling over charcoal or a gas grill, wait for it to get hot before adding your chicken. This allows the outside of the chicken to char, essentially “locking” in the juices. If your grill is still warming up, it may make your chicken dry. So, wait for it to get fully hot to ensure moist, delicious chicken.

Scrub the Grate

It’s also a good idea to scrub your grill grate before adding your chicken. If there’s any old food or debris on the grate, it may cause the chicken to stick — and that’s never something you want to see happen when grilling. When chicken sticks to the grate, the outer skin will likely tear, along with all of the seasoning. Scrub your grate before adding the chicken and lubricate it with cooking it to prevent this from happening.

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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Turn Your Fire Pit Into an Outdoor Focal Point

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36 on split rimMore and more homeowners are upgrading their patios and outdoor living spaces. While there are dozens of ways to upgrade an outdoor living space, one of the most effective and versatile solutions is a portable fire pit. Using a portable fire pit, you can create a more relaxing atmosphere that’s perfect for parties and gatherings. However, it’s recommended that you turn your fire pit into an outdoor focal point by following the tips listed below.

Choose the Right Location

The first step towards turning your fire pit into an outdoor focal point is choosing the right location. Conventional wisdom should tell you that fire pits should not be placed right against the side of a home, shed or any other structure that may ignite. Instead, place it in an open area with at least 10 feet of clearance on all sides. An open area also provides plenty of room for seating, which is another key element to consider when designing your outdoor living space.

Arrange Seating Around the Fire Pit

Once you’ve chosen the right location for your fire pit, you should surround it with comfortable seating. The term “focal point” refers to a specific area where people look by default. When guests enter your outdoor living space, you want them to look at your fire pit — a task that’s easily accomplished through comfortable seating.

There are countless seating options available for outdoor living spaces, some of which include Adirondack chairs, chaise lounge chairs, hammocks, swings and lawn chairs. Just remember to arrange them around the fire pit, pointing towards the fire pit instead of away.

Place Fire Pit Eye Level

It’s also a good idea to place your fire pit at eye level. Upon sitting down, guests should immediately fixate their attention on the fire pit. Placing it eye level helps you achieve this goal by naturally drawing attention to the fire pit. Furthermore, placing your fire pit at this height provides optimal warmth, which is particularly important during the late fall and winter months.

Some fire pits are tall enough to achieve eye level without any assistance. Others, however, are shorter and require the use of an elevated surface, such as brick pavers.

These are just a few tips to turn your fire pit into an outdoor focal point.

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 Build a Campfire with Wet Wood

fire-1725843_960_720When it comes to building campfires, the drier the wood the better. Regardless of variety, all wood is highly porous with thousands upon thousands of small holes. These “pores” absorb or release moisture depending on the surrounding atmosphere. If the atmosphere is humid, wood will absorb moisture, making it difficult to burn. So, how do you build a campfire with wet wood such as this?

Find Dry Tinder

Even if the firewood is wet, you may still be able to light it using — but you’ll need dry tinder first. If it’s been raining, it’s probably best to bring your own tinder, such as newspaper, wood shavings, or even pocket lint. Assuming it’s dry, tinder such as this should easily ignite. If it’s wet, try placing it in direct sunlight for a few hours, allowing the moisture to evaporate.

Find Dry Kindling

Next, you’ll need to find dry kindling. Kindling is bigger than tinder, though still smaller than conventional firewood. It consists of small twigs and branches of relative size. To determine if kindling is dry enough to use in your campfire, try breaking it in half. If the kindling is dry, you should hear a loud “snap,” indicating that it’s not too moist. If the kindling doesn’t make this “snap” sound, you should find a different source that’s drier and more suitable for use in your campfire. You’ll need dry tinder and kindling to build a campfire using wet wood.

Find the Driest Firewood Possible

Just because firewood is wet doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t burn. However, it’s best to find the driest firewood possible. If you’re searching for firewood in the woods, look under sheltered areas where there’s natural protection from the rain. Underneath a large tree canopy, for instance, is a great place to find semi-dry firewood. The tree canopy acts as a shield, blocking a significant amount of rain from reaching the ground. Any fallen logs here should be drier than logs in exposed areas of the forest.

Create Your Fire

When creating your campfire, arrange the logs in the shape of a teepee, while placing the tinder and kindling underneath. After lighting the tinder, place the kindling over the flame. And once it’s lit, gently blow on the flame to help spread it to the firewood. It may take a little nurturing, but this should get your campfire up and goinf.

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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Grilling Tips for Kebabs

barbecue-84671_960_720Kebabs are the perfect food for grilling. Whether they are chicken, steak, veggies, shrimp or a combination thereof, there’s nothing quite like the smokey flavor of grilled kebabs. If you’re thinking about grilling some kebabs, however, you should consider the following tips.

Use Metal Skewers… or Soak Bamboo Skewers

One of the problems many people encounter when attempting to grill kebabs is burning their skewers. If you use wooden or bamboo skewers, there’s a good chance they’ll burn, especially when placed in close proximity to the flame. To prevent this from happening, try using metal skewers instead. Not only are they burn-proof, but they are also reusable.

Alternatively, you can soak bamboo skewers in water before placing them on the grill. By soaking them in water, they are less likely to burn. They may still “char,” but they shouldn’t burn all the way through.

Coat the Grate

Kebabs have a tendency to stick to the grate when grilled. When this happens, the outside of the food will harden to the grate, forcing you to rip it off. And in doing so, you’ll remove the seasoned exterior of the food, making it less palatable.

You can coat the grate in vegetable or olive oil beforehand to prevent kebabs from sticking. Using a brush, apply a small but thorough amount of cooking oil to the grate before lighting the coals. Once the oil has been evenly distributed, you can light the coals and add the kebabs. In addition to preventing your kebabs from sticking, the oil also helps to lock in the flavor.

Cut and Prepare Food Proportionately

Another common mistake you’ll want to avoid when grilling kebabs is preparing your food in different sizes. If you have a large steak medallion next to several small pieces of onion, conventional wisdom should tell you that the onion will cook faster. And assuming they are on the skewer, you won’t be able to remove the onion when it’s done; thus, resulting in burned onion and/or an underdone steak medallion.

To prevent this from happening, cut and prepare your food proportionately. As long as the skewered food is about the same size, it should cook at roughly the same pace. There may still be some nuances regarding cooking times, but it shouldn’t cause any major issues.

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 Control Your Campfire and Prevent it from Spreading

campfire-1031162_960_72011There are approximately 100,000 wildfires every year in the United States. While lighting strikes are a common cause of these wildfires, another cause is uncontrolled campfires. Campers who fail to take the necessary precautions to control their fire may inadvertently spark one of these hard-to-extinguish wildfires. So, how can you better control your campfire and prevent it from spreading?

Choose the Right Location

When choosing a location for your campfire, look to see where nearby trees and brush are located. Ideally, your campfire should be at least 10 feet away from flammable brush and plant life. A stray ember can easily travel to a nearby tree, sparking a major wildfire.

Use a Fire Ring

Setting up a fire ring around your campfire is a quick and easy way to keep it under control. In the most basic sense, a fire ring is nothing more than a circle of medium-sized rocks placed around the perimeter of the campfire. It’s sole purpose is to control the fire and prevent it from escaping. Depending on where you are camping, there may be existing fire rings left by other campers, which you can typically use to build your won campfire.

Dig a Hole

Even if you use a fire ring, you should still dig a small hole in the center to better control your campfire. It doesn’t have to be deep, as just a few inches is usually enough to keep the fire under control.

Consider the Wind

Both the speed and direction at which the wind is blowing can affect your ability to control your campfire. If you build your campfire downwind, and there’s brush a short distance further downwind, it could spread out of control. This is why most outdoor experts recommend building campfires against a natural windbreak, such as a ridge or large rock.

Keep Water Nearby

It’s a good idea to keep some water near your campfire. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen, but if your campfire spreads out of control, you can extinguish it by dousing the flames in water. And even if your campfire doesn’t spread, it’s a good idea to douse the flames and ash in water before leaving. Doing so gives you peace of mind knowing that it’s fully extinguished.

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 Does My Campfire Keep Going Out?

2440742452_f823970f98_zCan’t seem to keep your campfire lit? Whether you’re camping deep in the woods or right in your backyard, keeping your campfire lit is important for several reasons: it provides warmth, cooking fuel, a relaxing atmosphere, and it even repels insects like mosquitoes. The good news is that most campfires will stay lit without any additional work on your behalf. There are times, however, when an otherwise perfect campfire will go out. So, what causes a campfire to go out and how can you prevent it from happening?

It’s Not Getting Enough Air

Going back to the basics of fire-building 101, every campfire needs three things to stay lit: fuel (wood), heat and an oxidizing agent (air). Assuming you have wood in your campfire — and your campfire is burning — neither fuel nor heat are likely the problem. A lack of air, however, can certainly make it difficult to keep a campfire burning through the night. This is why many outdoor survivalists recommend building a teepee-style campfire, which is characterized by an open center through which air flows.

The Wood is Wet

Another common reason why campfires go out is because the wood is wet. In order for wood to light — and stay lit — it needs to be dry. If it’s too dry, combustion won’t happen; thus, the campfire will likely go out. If you’re camping in an area where there’s little-to-no dry wood, consider bringing your own.

The Wood is Too Thick

When choosing wood for your campfire, select a combination of small, thin pieces, as well as larger, thicker pieces. If all of the wood is thick, it may struggle to ignite.

It’s Humid

Not surprisingly, the climate can affect whether or not a campfire stays lit. If it’s raining outside, the water will saturate your campfire and wood, causing the fire to go out. Even if it’s not raining, however, excessive humidity in the air can cause a campfire to go out. Humidity is defined as a measurement of moisture vapor in the air. Although you can’t see it, moisture vapor is all around us. When it’s particularly humid outside, the moisture vapor will saturate wood, making it difficult to keep a campfire burning through the night.

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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6 Reasons Why Your Patio Needs a Fire Pit

familyfirepit_fullA fire pit is a must-have accessory for any patio or outdoor living space. If you’re still on the fence, here are 6 reasons why you need one.

#1) Aesthetics

This alone should be reason enough to decorate your patio with a fire pit. Some people assume that fire pits are strictly functional, but in reality they offer aesthetic benefits as well. They fill your patio with a new visual element while helping to balance the color and design.

#2) It’s Relaxing

Decorating your patio with a fire pit will improve its aesthetics, setting the mood for a more relaxing, stress-free environment. Humans have been gathering around campfires since the dawn of mankind. Studies have shown that fires — whether a campfire or fire pit — have a naturally relaxing effect

#3) Easy to Move

Assuming you buy a portable fire pit, such as those offered here at S&S Fire Pit, you can easily move your fire pit. If you’re planning a vacation to a nearby park or the beach, for instance, you can pack up and bring your fire pit. And when you return, you can place it back on your patio.

Of course, not all fire pits are portable. Some fire pits are designed to be stationary, which ultimately restricts their utility.

#4) Provides Warmth Later in the Year

As summer comes to a close, many homeowners stop using their patio, preferring the warmth of their home instead. With a fire pit, however, you can keep your outdoor parties going later in the year. A well-made fire pit will provide a source of warmth for you, your family and friends. Whether it’s spring, summer fall or winter, you can enjoy your patio thanks to the fire pit.

#5) Keeps the Bugs Away

Mosquitoes can turn an otherwise pleasant evening into a nightmare. The good news is that a fire pit can keep these and other pests at bay. Smoke produced by a fire pit acts as a natural insect repellent, discouraging mosquitoes and other pests.

#6) It Doubles as a Grill

A fire pit even doubles as a grill, allowing homeowners to cook delicious food. Whether it’s burgers, steaks, chicken, pork chops, hot dogs, veggie kebabs, etc., you can cook just about anything on a 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/

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5 Tips for Starting a Campfire on the Beach

sea-1804591_960_72011What’s better than the relaxing ambiance of a campfire? A campfire on the beach. However, there are a few things you should know about starting a campfire on the beach.

Check the Rules

Before sparking your campfire, check to see if campfires are even allowed on the beach. Many beaches throughout the United States prohibit campfires, either for safety or environmental purposes. Others, however, have restrictions, such as using an existing fire ring or building the campfire a certain distance away from the water.

Create a Sand Pit

Assuming the beach doesn’t require campers to use an existing fire ring, consider building your campfire in a sand pit. One of the hurdles you’ll face when building a campfire on the beach is the wind. Whether you’re on the east coast or west, beaches have little-to-no protection from wind. By digging and using a sand pit, though, you’ll create a natural barrier of protection around your campfire.

Hurdle Around

Even with a sand pit, you may still struggle to get your campfire lit. If wind is a problem, have your group huddle around the campfire to create a wind-break of sorts. By using your bodies as shields, you’ll block the wind from reaching the fire, making it easier to start.

Look for Firewood

Of course, you’ll need plenty of firewood to keep your campfire burning. Again, some beaches have restrictions regarding what you can burn (e.g. no local firewood; must bring your own), so check beforehand. Assuming you are allowed to collect local firewood, look for driftwood that’s washed ashore. Driftwood is typically dry and hard, making it an ideal source of fuel for your campfire. Once you’ve lit some tinder and kindling, allow the heat to rise and ignite your driftwood.

Keep it Small

It’s a good idea to keep your beach campfire small. There’s no need to create a blazing bonfire on the beach, regardless of how many people with whom you are camping. Keep your campfire small to prevent disturbing the local wildlife and ecosystem. As your fire burns down, add more wood to keep it going. A rule of thumb is to keep your campfire no larger than three feet tall or three feet wide.

These are just a few tips to follow when building a campfire on the beach.

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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6 Campfire Safety Tips to Follow

fire-1748705_960_720No camping experience is complete without a campfire. In addition to allowing campers to cook food, it creates a social ambiance that’s more relaxing. However, you should follow a few basic safety tips when building a campfire.

#1) Check Restrictions

Depending on where you are camping, there may be restrictions on building campfires. Some national parks prohibit campfires when it’s particularly dry, while others require campers to build fires in existing fire rings. Always check to see what, if any, restrictions there are on building a campfire.

#2) Stack Firewood Upwind

If you plan on staying for a while, you may have some extra firewood — and that’s okay. However, you should store extra firewood upwind to reduce the chance of an incidental fire. If it’s stored downwind, a stray ember may ignite the firewood.

#3) Keep Your Campfire Small

There’s really no point in building a large, roaring campfire. On the contrary, doing so only increases the risk of a wildfire. You can cook food and create warmth using just a small campfire. And a small campfire doesn’t pose the same risk of damage and injury as a larger one.

#4) Don’t Burn Trash or Debris

Burning your trash may seem more convenient than bagging and carrying it with you, but this practice is frowned upon for several reasons: for starters, burning trash, especially plastic, releases toxic fumes into the air. Secondly, some trash won’t burn down 100%, meaning remnants will be left behind. The bottom line is that you should only burn firewood in your campfire, not trash or debris.

#5) Wet Ashes Before Leaving

Even if your campfire “looks” like it’s out, it’s a good idea to douse it with water before leaving your campsite. The ashes can store enough heat to spark a second fire for up to 24 hours. By pouring water over them, however, you’ll prevent this from happening, protecting the surrounding plant life and vegetation from a wildfire.

#6) Don’t Leave Campfire Unsupervised

I know this probably sounds like common sense, but it’s still worth mentioning that you should never leave a campfire burning unsupervised. According to National Geographic, more than 100,000 wildfires occur in the United States each year, burning some 4 to 5 million acres of land. Many of these wildfires are the result of unsupervised campfires.

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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5 Hacks for Cooking Over a Campfire

pan-984007_960_720As any camper already knows, food just tastes better when it’s cooked in the wilderness. But cooking over a campfire poses some unique challenges, which can make it difficult to enjoy a meal. If you’re looking to improve your backwoods culinary skills, check out the following campfire cooking hacks.

#1) Marinate Meats

Rather than just tossing your meats in the cooler, try marinating them in sealed plastic bags with your preferred marinade sauce. Whether it’s steaks, chicken, pork chops, etc., marinating infuses the meat with additional juice and flavor, making it that much more enjoyable to eat.

#2) Avoid ‘Fatty’ Foods

What’s wrong with cooking fatty foods over a campfire? Well, the problem with fatty foods like pork loin is that they drip fat — and this fat can cause your campfire to flare up. If you’re going to cook fatty foods, use a skillet or pan to control the fat.

#3) Foil Packets

You should always bring a roll of aluminum foil when cooking over a campfire. Using foil, you can create pockets of your favorite foods and dishes. For instance, you can toss all of your vegetables into a single foil packet, after which you can place the packet over the campfire. This is a quick and easy way to cook multiple foods over a campfire. Best of all, everyone with whom you are camping can create and cook their own foil packet of food.

#4) Turn Often

Because campfires typically produce more heat than a traditional grill, you’ll need to turn your food often. Forgetting to turn your food will likely result in it getting burned. A little charred skin isn’t much of a concern, but it can quickly turn to ash if you aren’t careful. The bottom line is that you need to turn food often when cooking over a campfire, especially if the fire is roaring hot.

#5) Bring Oil

Be sure to bring olive oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil or some other type of cooking oil. In addition to pan-frying, you can use oil to coat the grate, preventing food from sticking to it. Simply brush a small amount of oil over the grate before cooking to create a non-stick surface. This prevents your food from sticking to the grate while also allowing for more even distribution of heat.

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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Tips on Using a Fire Pit in the Wind

fire-507693_960_720Mother nature isn’t always going to provide sunny clear skies with little-to-no wind. While strong winds typically don’t pose a concern, it can make it difficult to keep your fire pit burning. Before packing up and calling it a day, however, you should consider the following tips on how to use a fire pit in the wind.

Choose the Right Location

The right location can help protect your fire pit from the wind, allowing it to burn in otherwise not-so-ideal conditions. Assuming you have a portable fire pit, try moving it next to a windbreak, such as the side of your house or next to a wooded area. Natural and man-made structures such as these will block the wind, making it easier to keep your fire pit burning on a windy day. Just remember to keep your fire pit far enough away so that a stray ember doesn’t cause property damage.

Stand Around Your Fire Pit

If you don’t have access to a wind break, try standing around your fire pit to block the wind. If you have a couple buddies with you, you can create your own wind break of human bodies. This isn’t as effective as using a house for a wind break, but it can still help by slowing down the wind.

Block the Wind with a Tarp

If you have a tarp and some bungee cords on hand, you can try making your own wind break. First, identify the direction from which the wind is blowing. Next, stretch out the tarp and attach it to some nearby trees or structures using the bungee cords. Double-check the bungee cords to make sure they are secure, after which it should block the wind from reaching your fire pit.

Cover it With a Lid

Of course, another idea is to cover your fire pit with a lid. With a lid over your fire pit, wind won’t be able to reach the fire.  If you don’t have a lid for your fire pit, try using a grill lid. If it’s the same size — or about the same size — it should work just as well, blocking the wind from reaching the fire.

These are just a few tips to keep your fire pit burning on a windy day.

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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Fire Pit Maintenance Tips

36 on split rim

36 on split rimWith summer right around the corner, there’s no better time than the present to invest in a fire pit. A high-quality steel fire pit will allow you to enjoy the outdoors by hosting backyard parties with friends and family. However, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the following maintenance tips to preserve the look and integrity of your new fire pit.

Clean the Ash

Try to get into the habit of cleaning the ash out of your fire pit after using it. Allowing ash to settle and sit at the bottom promotes rust. The ash soaks up moisture vapor in the surrounding air, and this moisture reacts to the metal of the fire pit to create rust. You can prevent this from happening, however, by cleaning the ash out of your fire pit after using it. Just remember to wait until the ash has cooled, after which you can safely shovel it into a metal container.

Clean the Grate

In addition to shoveling out the ash, you should also clean your fire pit’s grate on a regular basis. Assuming you cook with your fire pit — as most people do — particles of food will become stuck to the grate. Using a wire grill brush, gently scrub the grate to remove these particles. If there’s any stubborn food that doesn’t seem to come off, add a small amount of soapy water to the brush. You can further prevent food from sticking to your fire pit grate by wiping the grate with vegetable or cooking oil before cooking.

Wipe it Down

It’s a good idea to wipe down the outside of your fire pit to clean any pollen and dust. While the presence of pollen isn’t going to affect the function of your fire pit, it can certainly affect its aesthetics. Thankfully, a quick wipe-down should eliminate particles such as this.

Cover it

Depending on where your fire pit is stored, you may need to cover it to protect against bad weather. Leaving your fire pit exposed to the rain or snow is never a good idea. Again, too much moisture can cause rust and corrosion, not to mention the fact that it turns any standing ash into a sludge-like mess. So, either move it under a covered area or purchase a separate “cover” to user over 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/

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How to Stack Charcoal (the Right Way)

flame-933074_960_720Cooking with charcoal is generally preferred over wood for several reasons: it produces more heat, burns for longer, and it’s readily available.   Yet, you still can’t beat wood for flavor and wood will always be our number one choice.

But whether you’re cooking on a grill or fire pit, you’ll need to stack your charcoal in the correct manner to achieve these results. Some people assume that it’s best to lay a flat and even “layer” of charcoal, but this isn’t necessarily true. To learn more about charcoal and how to create the perfect stack for grilling, keep reading.

The Pyramid Stack

There are several ways to stack charcoal, though one of the most effective is the pyramid stack. This lives up to its namesake by mimicking the appearance of a pyramid. By creating this shape, air can flow through the charcoal more easily, intensifying the heat and overall cooking power. The pyramid stack also minimizes smoke, which is another reason why it’s preferred.

Some grills come with a special charcoal stacker that you can use to create a pyramid (or near pyramid) shape. Dump your charcoal into the stacker, light the bottom, and you’re good to go! However, you don’t need this or any other item to create a pyramid stack. Regardless of the type and shape of your charcoal, you should be able to arrange it in the shape of a pyramid.

Light It

With your charcoal stacked in a pyramid shape, it’s time to light it. Strike your match and carefully hold it in the center of the stack, under the pyramid. Assuming the charcoal is dry, it should light with little effort. Lightly blowing on the match — just enough to encourage airflow — can also help it ignite.

If it’s not lighting, try lighting a piece of newspaper and then sticking the newspaper in the charcoal stack. Alternatively, you can use a long “grill lighter,” which are designed specifically for this purpose. Once you get the bottom of your charcoal pyramid lit, the rest should ignite. You can then sit back and wait as your charcoal heats up.

Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of how to stack charcoal for grilling. The key thing to remember is that you should create a pyramid shape for your charcoal when lighting it.

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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Fire Pits 101: How to Build a Better Fire

IMG_7541Looking to build a better fire? Here are some tips to help.

Use Dry Firewood

Don’t underestimate the importance of using dry, seasoned firewood in your fire. The presence of moisture inhibits the combustion process, resulting in less fire and more smoke. While all firewood will have at least some moisture, you should avoid wood that’s noticeably damp or wet. Instead, choose firewood that’s been properly stored and seasoned over time.

Wind Break

Whether you’re building a campfire on the ground or in a fire pit, you should choose a location that’s protected from the wind. Even minor gusts of wind can make it difficult to start a fire — or keep a fire going. If you’re using a fire pit, for instance, perhaps you can set it up next to your house (just keep far enough away to prevent property damage). If you’re building a campfire in the wilderness, try creating your fire next to a ridge. The bottom line is that you need some type of wind break to protect the fire from wind.

Start with Tinder

A good campfire begins with tinder. It gets the fire burning hot more quickly, at which point you can add larger pieces of firewood. Some excellent tinger includes dry leaves, bark, wood shaving, grass and pine needles. Alternatively, you can bring your own tinder from home, such as dryer lint. The key thing to remember is that tinder should be small and exceptionally dry; otherwise, it’s not going to catch well (or at all). Alongside your tinder, you should also include some twigs and small sticks (kindling). The combination of tinder and kindling is guaranteed to get your fire burning hot.

Allow for Airflow

Fire needs three key components to burn: heat, fuel (e.g. wood) and oxygen. As such, you need to create your fire in a manner that encourages airflow. You should still protect your fire from wind gusts via a wind break, but you should also design it with an open configuration so that air can flow through the fire. A teepee-style campfire is a popular choice for this very reason. Propping up the firewood in the shape of a teepee allows air to flow through the center, helping to fuel the fire and keep it burning hot.

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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5 Common Grilling Myths Debunked or Not?

Rib Eyes Cooking03There’s nothing that compares the delicious flavor or grilled food. Whether it’s a steak, hamburger, hot dog or practically any other food, there’s something about grilling that makes it taste better. However, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about grilling, some of which we’re going to debunk.

#1) Grilling Leaves Food Dry

One all-too-common myth is that grilling leaves food dry. When done incorrectly, it can certainly release the internal juices of pork, steaks and beef patties. However, there are ways to prevent this from happening, such as charring the outside at a high temperature or wrapping the meat in aluminum foil.

#2) Gas Grills are Better than Charcoal

On the contrary, most chefs will agree that grilled food cooked over charcoal tastes better than its gas-grilled counterpart. This is because charcoal has a unique smokey flavor that’s not achieved through gas grills. The only advantage of cooking food over a gas grill is the even distribution of heat, though you can achieve the same effects with a charcoal grill by properly stacking and igniting your charcoal prior to cooking.

#3) You Should Flip Steaks Only Once

A third myth that many people seem to believe is that you should only flip steaks once when grilling them. Some people believe that flipping steaks and other meat too many times causes the juices to release. Assuming you cook it properly and don’t pierce the meat beforehand, though, this shouldn’t happen. Flipping meat multiple times actually allows for a more even and thorough cooking, preventing certain areas from being under-cooked and/or overcooked.

#4) Should You Let Steaks ‘Sit’ Before Grilling

Do you let your steaks sit on the counter until they reach room temperature before grilling? It’s a common assumption that doing so helps them cook faster. After all, conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that a steak at room temperature will cook faster than a cold steak. With that said, allowing your steaks to sit before cooking does only one real benefit and that is it keeps the internal part of the steak from being cold.  If you like thick cut steaks rare or medium rare, which is preferred, You don’t want a nice sear with a cold inside.

#5) Salt Makes Grilled Steaks Tough

Too much of anything is bad for grilled steaks, and salt is no exception. But a small amount of salt, pepper and your preferred seasoning can vastly improve the flavor of a grilled steak while also helping you achieve a charred outside.  We say the only spices you need if stranded are salt, pepper and cayenne.

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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Creating the Perfect Area for a Fire Pit

IMG_1090No outdoor living space is complete without a fire pit. It opens the doors to a whole new world of possibilities, allowing homeowners to host parties, backyard barbecues, or simply enjoy a relaxing evening by the fire. But it’s important to create the right area for your fire pit, which is something we’re going to discuss in this blog post.

10′ Clearance from Flammable Structures

When choosing a location for your fire pit, a good rule of thumb is to keep it at least 10 feet away from your house and any other flammable structures, both natural and man-made. Even if the fire doesn’t reach these structures, a stray ember could float over to it, causing a fire.

Accessibility

You should also consider accessibility when choosing a location for your fire pit. If it’s a quarter-mile away from your home, you probably wont use much. Keep your fire pit relatively close — but not too close — to your home so you and guests can easily travel back and forth.

Clean the Ground

Whether you place your fire pit directly on the ground, a concrete/paved area, or a wooden deck, you should clean it. Remove all leaves and debris before adding your fire pit. Once clean, you can then move your fire pit into place, preparing it for use.

Protect Your Deck

Assuming you choose to place your fire pit on a wooden deck, you’ll need to place something underneath it to protect the wood. Some strategically placed brick pavers should do the job, or you can buy a special fireproof mat that’s designed to resistant heat. Either way, it’s important to place something underneath your fire pit to protect your wooden deck from the heat; our rule is to be smart.

Seating

Of course, you should also add seating around your fire pit. When you get ready to use your fire pit, you’ll probably want to sit down, relax and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere it creates. There are dozens of different seating options from which to choose, including chaise lounge chairs, foldout “camping” style chairs, benches, Adirondack chairs, teak chairs, plastic chairs, swings, or even hammocks. The great thing about seating is that you can easily add and remove new seats as you please. If you aren’t happy with your current fire pit seating, replace it with something else.

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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Kick Off Summer with a Fire Pit

IMG_8098The warm weather and colorful plant life can only mean one thing: summer is almost here. June 21 marks the first official day of summer, offering homeowners the perfect opportunity to upgrade their outdoor living space with a new fire pit. So, why should you invest in a fire pit this summer?

You’ll Cook More Meals

Let’s face it, eating out night after night isn’t exactly good for your health — and “sit down” restaurants are no better, either. In fact, one study found that eating out at sit-down restaurants was just was bad as picking up fast food. If you have a fire pit, however, you’ll probably spend more time making and preparing your own meals, which is certainly a healthier option for you and your family.

You’ll Spend More Time Outdoors

In addition to making your own meals, a fire pit will also encourage you to spend more time outdoors. The summer isn’t here for long, so why not go outdoors and enjoy out? We suggest a “summer time fire”, which is not going to be as big but still provide ambiance, but less heat. Unfortunately, far too many people stay cooped up indoors all-year long. But if there’s something that draws you outside, such as a fire pit, you’ll find yourself spending more time under the sun.

It’s Portable

Assuming you buy your fire pit from us here at S&S Fire Pit, you can take it with you wherever you go. Whether you’re going tailgating, camping, or headed to a friend’s house, bring your fire pit. One of the great things about having a portable fire pit is the near-limitless options it provides. Of course, you can always use it in your own backyard, but you can also take it to other places.

It’s a Social Activity

While you can use a fire pit solo, it’s typically a social activity in which multiple people participate. This makes it ideal for hosting backyard parties and barbecues. When everything is gathered around your patio or outdoor living space, you can spark up for the fire pit to set the mood.

I guess the better question is why shouldn’t you get a fire pit for the summer? These are just a few of the countless reasons why a fire pit is a smart investment for the summer.

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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Should I Grill with Charcoal or Hardwood?

abstract-219735_960_720If you plan on cooking food over fire, you’ll need some type of fuel. The most common fuel sources used for this purpose include hardwood and charcoal. While you can use both to cook everything from hamburgers and hot dogs to smores and vegetables we prefer real hardwood when it makes sense, but there are some stark differences between the two that you should be aware of. So, should you grill with charcoal or real hardwood?

Smoke

One of the biggest difference between charcoal and wood — when used for cooking — is the amount of smoke produced. Because wood contains more moisture than its charcoal counterpart, it naturally produces more smoke when burning. Some people actually prefer the rich smokey flavor of charcoal-grilled food, but others prefer the more traditional flavor of smoke-grilled food.

Heat

With an average energy value of 29 MJ/kg, charcoal tends to burn hotter than wood. So, if you want to cook food in the shortest amount of time possible, it’s best to stick with charcoal. With that said, insufficient airflow and/or the absence of flames may cause inefficient heat transfer; thus, making cooking difficult. You can overcome this problem by ensuring your coals are exposed to air (grills and fire pits often have vents that you can open and close).

Transport

While there are certain exceptions, charcoal is usually easier to transport than wood. If you’re going camping with some friends, you may want to carry charcoal for this reason. Of course, you can always scavenge native firewood at your campsite, but bringing charcoal ensures you have the necessary fuel supply for cooking, but once again we like the real wood when feasible.

Cost

There’s also the issue of cost. Natural, locally sourced firewood is typically free, whereas charcoal often costs up to $10 per bag.

The bottom line is that there’s no clear winner in the battle between wood and charcoal. Wood burns more slowly while releasing a distinct smokey flavor, but charcoal cooks food more quickly and easier to transport. Think about when and how you’ll be cooking and choose the fuel that’s best suited for the job.

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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Top 5 Benefits of Grilling Your Own Food

meat-1440105_960_72011Grilling your own food offers several benefits, some of which we’re going to discuss in today’s blog post.

#1) Grilling is a Social Activity

While there are always exceptions to this, grilling is typically a social activity in which multiple people participate. Even if it’s just sitting around the grill or fire pit, it offers the perfect opportunity to converse with friends and family.

#2) Grilled Food Tastes Better

Whether it’s a burger, steak, hot dogs, pork chops, etc., there’s just something about grilled food that makes it taste better. According to an article published by Business Insider, grilled food scientifically tastes better because of a specific compound found in charcoal. Known as guaiacol, this compound is responsible for the distinct smokey flavor of grilled food.

#3) Soak up The Sun

Since grilling is done outdoors, it allows you to soak up the sun. If you work a traditional 9 to 5 job in the office, you may not get many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Grilling food for lunch and/or dinner, however, is a window during which you can go outside and get some sunshine. As a side benefit, the increased sun exposure from grilling outdoors will trigger vitamin D production in your body, helping to prevent vitamin D deficiency — an-all-too common condition from which millions of men and women suffer.

#4) You’ll Use Less Butter

When you sauté or pan-fry food over the stove, you’ll typically need to add a decent amount of butter or oil; otherwise, the food will burn and stick to the bottom of the pan. Grilling, however, doesn’t require an excessive amount of butter or oil. You can coat the grate in a butter or substitute to prevent food from sticking, but that’s all that’s really needed. As such, grilling can be a healthier way to cook and prepare food

#5) Keeps Your Kitchen Clean

Let’s face it, one of the downsides to cooking food in the kitchen is the simple fact that it gets messy. You’ll have pans and utensils strewn all over the place — something that discourages many people from cooking in the first place. Grilling, on the other hand, keeps your kitchen a little cleaner.

These are just a few reasons why you should grill your own food. And with summer right around the corner, the weather is perfect for outdoor grilling.

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 Keep Your Campfire Burning Through the Night

lake-sara-1892494_960_720It’s frustrating when you finally get that damp wood lit, only for your campfire to go out in the middle of the night. While you can always stay up to stoke it and add more wood, most people prefer sleeping at night, especially after a long day of hiking. So, how can you keep your campfire burning through the night?

The 1/2-Inch Rule

What is the 1/2-inch rule? Basically, for every 1/2 inch of firewood, your campfire will burn for about an hour. If you have a 6-inch piece of firewood, you can expect it to burn for six hours. Or if you have an even larger 8-inch piece of firewood, it will burn for about eight hours. Of course, this is just a general rule, as some wood burns faster and others burn slower. With that said, you can still follow this rule to choose the right-sized firewood to keep your campfire burning through the night and well into the morning.

Tipi Campfire

For the purpose of heat retention, it’s recommended that you build a tipi-style campfire. As the name suggests, this type of campfire is characterized by its shape resembling that of a Native American tipi. Firewood is arranged in a standing cone-like design around a bundle of kindling and tinder. Once the inside kindling and tinder is lit, the heat rises to the exterior firewood. The tipi-style campfire is one of the easiest to build, and it’s also one of the most efficient.

Place Ash Over the Campfire

Another trick that can keep your campfire burning longer is to place ash over the top of it. Ash makes the wood burn more slowly, which should keep the campfire going for a little longer.  The only downside to this method is that you’ll need ash — and that requires a campfire.

Place Rocks Inside

Some outdoor enthusiasts recommend placing rocks inside the campfire. The general idea is to allow the rocks to absorb the heat, at which point it should keep your fire going a little longer. Rocks hold heat incredibly well, which is why people have used hot rocks them for therapeutic purposes for centuries.

These are just a few tips to keep your campfire burning through the night.

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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5 Tips on Taking a Fire Pit Camping

IMG_8098Thinking about taking your fire pit camping? We have some tips to help you get the most use from it.

#1) Bring a Grate for Cooking

Assuming you plan to use your fire pit for cooking (which most campers do), it’s recommended that you bring a grill grate. Granted, you can cook over an open fire without a grate, but using one makes the process ten times easier. A basic metal grate turns your fire pit into a grill, allowing you to cook delicious foods more quickly and evenly.

#2) Consider the Size of Your Fire Pit

Fire pits are available in a wide range of sizes. For camping, though, it’s best to stick with a smaller and more portable fire pit. Large fire pits are typically too bulky and heavy to carry long distances, making them a poor choice for camping. This is particularly true when speaking about stone fire pits, which should not be used for camping.

#3) Bring a Tabletop

As most seasoned campers already know, a tabletop surface is a rare commodity in the wilderness. Unless you bring a foldout table, you’ll probably have to eat from your lap. However, you can bring a smaller and more portable fire pit tabletop for increased convenience. Once the fire is out and it has cooled off, you can place the tabletop over the fire pit. Not only is the perfect surface for eating, but you can also use it to play cards, read a book, write, etc.

#4) Don’t Forget the Matches (or Lighter)

Unless you plan on rubbing two sticks together, make sure you pack matches or a lighter. There’s nothing more frustrating than making your way to your campsite, only to discover that you forgot the matches. Double-check your gear before leaving, ensuring you have some tool to easily light your fire pit.

#5) Wait for it to Cool Off Before Loading

Last but not least, you should wait for your fire pit to cool off before attempting to load it into your car or vehicle. A fire pit can remain hot long after the fire goes out, so don’t assume it’s cool just because there’s no wood burning. Wait until the fire pit is cool to the touch before transporting it to avoid injury.

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 Keep Your Fire Pit from Filling with Water

37-Hemi-on-flanged base-with-SnufferConventional wisdom should tell you that water and fire pits don’t mix. When a fire pit fills with water, it mixes with any leftover ash to create a sludge-like mess. Not only is this unattractive, but it can also make it difficult to start a fire. So, what steps can you take to keep your fire pit from filling with water?

Choose the Right Type of Fire Pit

If your fire pit is stationary (e.g. built into the ground), you may have trouble keeping rainwater out of it. On the other hand, if your fire pit is a S&S Fire Pit, you’ll have an easier time keeping it dry by simply placing on of our snuffers lids on the pit and as well we have a built in drain hole.

Cover it with a Tarp

You can protect your fire pit from rain by covering it with a tarp. You can use a special tarp designed for fire pits, or you can use one designed for grills. Either way, a heavy-duty tarp made of a strong synthetic material should protect your fire pit from the elements.

When using a tarp, however, you should wait until your fire pit has completely cooled off. Throwing a tarp over a recently lit fire pit may result in damage. The heat from the fire pit will literally melt the tarp, creating a large hole through water can flow. And when your tarp is melted, it’s not going to offer much protection from the rain or elements.

Store it Under a Covered Area

Of course, you can store it under a covered area. Whether it’s in the garage, basement, storage shed, etc., storing your fire pit under a covered area is a sure-fire way to protect it from water.

Again, it’s important to note that you should only store a fire pit under a covered area once it has fully cooled off. A fire pit can remain hot enough to reignite for up to 24 hours. To prevent property damage and injury, wait until your fire pit has cooled off before attempting to move it.

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 Keep Mosquitoes Away from Your Campfire

fire-1891833_960_720What animal is responsible for more deaths than any other animal on this planet? It’s the mosquito. Although small in size, these blood-sucking pests carry a wide variety of infectious diseases, which is why it’s a good idea to keep them away from your campsite. The good news is that you can build an effective deterrent by using a campfire, and here’s how.

First and foremost, it’s important to note that smoke is a natural insect repellent. Most insects, including mosquitoes, prefer to avoid smoke, so building a campfire tends to work pretty well for this purpose. You don’t have to necessarily stand in the same direction in which the smoke is blowing, but rather stay around the campfire to keep mosquitoes and other bugs at bay.

Burn Citronella Leaves

If you really want to improve the pest-repellent power of your campfire, try burning some citronella leaves. You’ve probably seen (or used) citronella candles before. They are a popular type of outdoor candle due to their bug repellent properties. The tropical plant has natural oils that, when burned, turn into a pest repellent. And best of all, it’s completely safe so you don’t have to worry about toxic or otherwise harmful chemicals.

Create More Smoke

Although, we don’t like it, if you don’t have any citronella on hand, you can always increase the amount of smoke produced by your campfire to enhance its pest repellent properties. Adding more leaves and pine straw to your campfire, for instance, will make it produce more smoke, which in turn increases its ability to keep bugs at bay.

Choose Dry Campsites

When possible, try to choose a dry campsite with little-to-no standing pools of water. Mosquitoes thrive in moist environments, and just a small pool of standing water can result in their numbers multiplying at an increasingly fast rate. Look around to ensure the land and surrounding area is dry before pitching your camp.

Even if you follow these tips, you may still struggle to keep all mosquitoes away from your campsite. Bugs are just a part of camping, and it’s nearly impossible to avoid them altogether. However, these tips can certainly help to minimize the number of mosquitoes and other pests that you and your fellow campers encounter.

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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5 Tips on Choosing the Right Fire Pit

IMG_9707So, you’re thinking about buying a fire pit? With the warm weather fast approaching, there’s no better time than the present to invest in a fire pit for your patio or outdoor living space. However, you’ll want to choose the right type of fire pit.

Portable

If you plan on moving your fire pit, which most people do at some point or another, you’ll want to choose a portable fire pit. Some fire pits are designed to be stationary, while others are 100% portable. Opting for a portable fire pit opens the doors to a whole new world of possibilities, allowing you to take it camping, tailgating, to parties, or pretty much wherever else you desire.

High-Quality Steel Construction

Of course, you should choose a fire pit of high-quality material, such as steel. Some of the cheaper fire pits on the market are made with low-quality materials that quickly break down and deteriorate. There’s nothing more frustrating than buying a fire pit, only to discover that it’s broken just a few weeks later. To avoid such problems, choose a fire pit of high-quality steel.

Size

Arguably, one of the most critical factors to consider when choosing a fire pit is the size. Fire pits are available in a variety of sizes, ranging from small to large. The 42″ Ellipcital, for instance, has a 42″ opening, making it large enough to build fires and cook meals over. If you plan on using it for tailgating, however, perhaps a smaller fire pit would work better. Consider when and how you’ll be using it, and choose an appropriately sized fire pit.

Style

A fire pit is more than just a safe container in which to build fires; it’s a decorative accessory. As such, you should choose a fire pit that flows cohesively with your outdoor decor.

Region of Manufacture

Where is the fire pit made? You can probably save a couple bucks by purchasing a fire pit from overseas, this is one instance in which the saying “you get what you pay for” holds true. These overseas fire pits are often made with cheap materials that don’t fare so well when compared to locally made fire pit. By purchasing a fire pit here at S&S Fire Pit, you can rest assured knowing that it’s made in the United States.

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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Can You Build a Fire with Wet Wood?

firewood-918930_960_720When it comes to building campfires, the drier the wood, the better. If wood contains too much water, you may struggle to ignite it. And even if you do ignite it, it may produce an excessive amount of smoke with minimal fire.

Whether it’s a softwood or hardwood, wood is like a sponge. It constantly absorbs moisture from its surrounding environment. When it rains, wood absorbs the moisture vapor from the air, making the firewood difficult to burn. So, how do you build a fire with wet wood such as this?

Don’t Use Flammable Liquids

It’s recommended that you stay away from lighter fluid, gasoline or other flammable liquids when attempting to light wet firewood. While it may ease the process of lighting the wood, it also increases the risk of injury. The flammable liquid can spill in your backpack and seep through your clothes, or it may get accidentally knocked over into the fire. Either way, there’s simply too many things that can go wrong with using flammable liquids in a fire.

Gather Small Pieces of Wood

To begin, gather small pieces of wood from covered areas such as under tree canopies and against ridges. Smaller pieces are easier to light, and once you get that initial flame, you can add larger pieces.

Strip Away the Outer Layer

Because moisture typically only penetrates the outer layer of wood, you can strip it away to better prepare it for burning. Using a knife or hatchet, carefully strip away the outer layer from your wood, discarding it to the side. Next, place this newly stripped wood around some tinder and kindling and light the center. Without the wet exterior, it should ignite with relative ease, allowing you to enjoy the warmth of a campfire.

How Long Does it Take Wood to Dry?

Of course, you might be wondering how long it takes wet firewood to dry out and become more suitable for burning. Well, it depends on several factors, including the species of wood, size, surrounding humidity, and level of exposure to sunlight. With that said, it usually takes several months for wet firewood to completely dry out to the point where it’s “seasoned” and ideal for burning.

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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Common Myths About Fire Pits

IMG_9707There are numerous myths floating around about fire pits and how they work. Today, we’re going to debunk some of these common myths, shedding light on this popular outdoor living accessory.

Myth #1) You Can’t Move a Fire Pit

While it’s true that some fire pits are permanent, others are not. If you want to move your fire pit, it’s recommended that you choose a portable style. Portable fire pits open the doors to a whole new world of possibilities, allowing individuals to take it camping, tailgating, or simply move it to a new area on their patio or back deck.

Myth #2) Fire Pits are Strictly Aesthetic

There’s no denying the fact that a fire pit is a brilliant decorative accessory for outdoor living spaces, but they also offer functional benefits as well. Using your fire pit, you can grill burgers, roast marshmallows, or simply create warmth on an otherwise chilly evening.

Myth #3) Fire Pits Cost Thousands of Dollars

Again, some fire pits may certainly sell for thousands of dollars, but others are more budget-friendly. As you can see from shopping on our website, we offer high-quality portable fire pits (built here in the U.S.) at affordable prices. The 30-inch “Short Boy,” for instance, is currently available for just $325.

Myth #4) Maintaining a Fire Pit is Time-Consuming

This statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Maintaining a fire pit requires very little effort. After burning it, wait for the ash to cool, at which point you can dispose of it. You can then clean any lingering dust or dirt from the surface using a towel. You don’t have to worry about cleaning your fire pit with any special product or chemical.

Myth #5) Refueling a Fire Pit with Gas is Expensive

Owning a gas-fueled fire pit can take a toll on your wallet, but it’s important to note that not all fire pits use gas. Many burn wood as a source of fuel, and these are generally recommended for homeowners seeking an authentic fire pit experience. Wood is cheaper, safer and easier to use in a fire pit, making this type ideal for the average homeowner.

These are just a few of the most common myths surrounding fire pits and how they work.

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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What You’ll Need to Create a Campfire

axe-984008_960_720No camping experience is complete without a campfire. Ever since the early days of mankind, humans have created campfires to cook food, illuminate their surroundings, stay warm in cold weather, and for the relaxing social ambiance it creates. But if you plan on creating a campfire in the wild, you’ll need a few basic items to get started.

Lighter or Matches

Unless you plan on rubbing two sticks together, or using an alternative primitive firestarting method, you’ll want to bring either a lighter or matches when camping. Some people prefer lighters, while others prefer matches. Regardless, you’ll need one of these to start your campfire.

Firewood

Of course, also need firewood (and lots of it) to build a campfire in the wild. More specifically, you’ll need three types of wood: tinder, kindling and large pieces of firewood.

Tinder is the smallest type of natural fuel used in campfires. It can consist of bark, fatwood, pine needles and even grass. Kindling is larger than tinder though smaller than standard-sized firewood. Examples of kindling include sticks and small branches about the size of your index finger.

Campsite

Not every wooded location is suited for a campfire. When camping, check the park’s rules to determine where you can build campfires. Some parks have strict rules requiring campers to build campfires in specified areas. And in the dry season, all campfires may be prohibited to reduce the risk of a wild fire.

Other Items to Consider

  • Grill grate. Assuming you want to cook over your campfire, you may also want to bring a grill grate. While you can always pierce food with a stick or skewer, a grill grate is easier and more versatile.
  • Pitcher. What do you need a pitcher for? Well, before leaving your campsite, it’s recommended that you pour water over the campfire ashes to ensure they are fully extinguished. Ashes can remain hot enough to ignite grass and other dry material for up to 24 hours, which is why it’s a good idea to pour water over your campfire before leaving.
  • Shovel. Using s shall shovel, you can create a more well-defined fire ring to help contain your campfire. You can also use a shovel to bury your ashes before leaving the campsite.

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 Safely Extinguish and Cool a Campfire

campfire-1031162_960_720More than 100,000 wildfires burn 4-5 million acres of land every year in the United States, according to an article published by National Geographic. While lightning strikes are a common cause of wildfires, extinguished campfires are also responsible for many wildfires. So, if you’re planning to camp in the near future, you’ll want to fully extinguish and cool your campfire before leaving.

Beware of Hot Embers Underneath Ash

Just because you see a pile of ashes left at the bottom of your fire ring doesn’t necessarily mean that your campfire has been extinguished. Ash is an excellent insulator of thermal energy, meaning it can keep embers hot enough to ignite a fire for up to 24 hours.

Some people assume that their campfire is out because they see ash at the bottom, but you really need to take additional steps to ensure it’s extinguished. Hot embers buried under the ash could reignite the following day to create a wildfire. So, how do you prevent this from happening?

Drown with Water

The only “sure-fire” way to extinguish a campfire is to drown it with water. While keeping a safe distance, slowly pour water over the campfire and its embers, even if those embers are not bright red. You’ll probably hear a hissing noise when doing so, which occurs from the water’s reaction to the heat. You’ll know the fire is extinguished when the hissing noise stops.

Stir with a Stick

In addition to drowning your campfire with water, you should also stir it with a stick (after drowning it with water). The purpose of this is to ensure the water has penetrated all layers of the fire. If there’s still a hot later, you may hear the hissing noise again when stirring the fire with a stick.

Here are some other safety tips to follow when building campfires in the wilderness:

  • When possible, use an existing fire ring to build your campfire instead of creating a new one.
  • Only burn wood in your campfire, not trash or debris.
  • Keep water nearby in case your campfire burns uncontrollably.
  • Consider the direction in which the wind is blowing when choosing a location for your campfire.
  • When camping in parks, check to see if there’s a fire ban in place or other restrictions for creating campfires.

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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Fire Pits: 5 Safety Tips to Prevent Burns

flame-1363003_960_72011With internal temperatures reaching up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, fire pits create more than enough heat to burn the skin. The good news is that burns are rare, especially safety precautions are taken. So, what steps can you take to prevent burns when using a fire a pit?

Don’t Touch the Outside of the Fire Pit

Never touch the outside of a fire pit while a fire is burning is inside. Most fire pits are made of steel, and while steel lacks the heat conductive properties of aluminum, brass and copper, it still transfers some heat. If you accidentally touch the outside of your fire pit while it’s being used, you could end up with a burn. The bottom line is that you should touch your fire pit until the inside has thoroughly cooled and is no longer hot.

Wear Heat-Resistant Gloves When Cooking

Another safety tip I’ve learned over the years is to wear heat-resistant gloves when cooking. This isn’t limited strictly to fire pits; this tip applies to all forms of outdoor cooking, including grills, open-flame campfires and more. When cooking outdoors, wearing a pair of heat-resistant gloves will allow you to move food on/off the grill without getting burned in the process.

Only Burn Wood

Avoid the temptation to burn leaves, trash, yard debris and other non-wood items. Fire pits are designed specifically for burning wood, and tossing other items into it could send fiery debris into the sky; thus, increasing the risk of burns. As long as you only burn wood in your fire pit, you’ll promote a safe environment while lowering the risk of injury.

Keep Your Distance

Standing only a few inches away from an active fire pit is a good way to get burned. Just turning your body the wrong way could result in a nasty burn, which is why it’s a good idea to get your distance.

Wait 24 Hours for Ash to Cool

Just because the fire has burned down to ash doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s cool. On the contrary, ash can remain hot enough to cause burns — or to spark another fire — for up to 24 hours. Therefore, you should wait until at least 24 hours after your fire has been extinguished before attempting to move the ash.

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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3 Easy Ways to Cook Using a Campfire

campfire-1548787_960_720Ask any seasoned camper and he or she will agree: food just taste better when you’re miles away from civilization. From basic snacks to full meals, there’s something special about eating when camping. With that said, there are several different ways to cook using a campfire, some of which we’re going to explore in today’s blog post.

Skewer on a Stick

One of the easiest ways to cook using a campfire is to skewer the food on a stick. Whether it’s marshmallows, steak medallions, vegetables, etc., most small-sized food can easily be skewered and cook over a campfire. And with the food on a stick, you can easily raise or lower the height to adjust its cooking temperature. The only real problem with this method is that it may or may not cook food evenly throughout.

Wrap in Foil

Another idea is to cook food over a campfire using aluminum foil. The aluminum foil acts as a protective barrier, keeping its contents clean and preventing it from burning. However, it still allows for the transfer of heat so the food will cook. Simply wrap your desired food in aluminum foil, after which you can place it either directly on the fire or on a grill grate. Because the food is contained in aluminum foil, you can cook smaller pieces than using the skewer-stick method mentioned above. You can also place the foil-wrapped food directly over the fire, allowing for a more even and thorough cooking.

Place on a Grill Grate

Of course, a third option — and probably the most popular — is to cook food on a grill grate over a campfire. You don’t have to necessarily bring an entire grill (although some campers do). Rather, bring a metal grille grate to place over your campfire. Once your campfire reaches a hot enough temperature, you can cook on the grate like a normal grill. The only downside is that your fire must be small enough so it doesn’t burn your food, which is a very real possibility when using a grill grate.

Many campers prefer this method because it leaves the distinct grill marks of a traditional grill. If you want to cook steaks, for instance, using a grill grate creates the characteristic lines.

Regardless of which method you choose, be sure to clean up afterwards.

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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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.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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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.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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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.

Planters

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.

Lighting

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.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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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.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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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.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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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.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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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.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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6 Things You Didn’t Know About Campfires

ash-1866620_960_720A campfire provides campers with warmth, light, relaxation, and a place to safely cook food. Mankind has been building them for thousands of years, and even today there’s no substitution for a genuine fire. However, you might be surprised to learn some of the following facts about campfires.

Campfires Can Reach 930 Degrees Fahrenheit

While temperatures vary depending on many factors (e.g. type of wood, airflow, quantity of wood, how long it’s been burning, etc.), it’s not uncommon for a campfire to reach 930 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to its high heat, safety precautions should be taken around campfires to avoid injury.

There are Many Ways to Build Campfires

A campfire can be constructed in one of several ways, some of which include the tipi, lean-to, log cabin, hybrid, keyhole and many others. The tipi is a popular choice, as it’s easy to build and provides ample, consistent warmth. It’s created by piling the tinder in the middle with smaller kindling around it, similar to the poles of a tipi.

Coals Continue to Burn

Even if the wood from your campfire is no longer burning, the ash and coals may continue to burn — even if they are buried under dirt. The hot coals continue to smolder long after the fire goes out. And if they are near a tree root, they can ignite and spark a new fire.

The First Campfires Were Built 1.6 Million Years Ago

It’s unknown who was responsible for building the world’s first campfire. Historians, however, have found evidence indicating that early man built them around 1.6 million years. This evidence was found in the form of burned antelope bones in remote caves of South Africa.

You May or May Not be Allowed to Collect Firewood at Parks

Many national parks have rules regarding campfires. Most State Parks and National Parks allow campers to collect and use any firewood that’s lying on the ground. If the park has an erosion problem, however, it may prohibit the collection of firewood.

‘Fatwood’ Makes Excellent Kindling and Tinder

If you’re having trouble igniting a campfire with traditional firewood, perhaps you should look for fatwood. Also known as fat lighter, lighter wood and rich lighter, fatwood is derived from pine heartwood. Over time, the resin within pine becomes hard, making the wood resistant to rot and decay. It lights quickly and easily, even in wet and/or windy conditions. Fatwood also burns hot enough to ignite other, non-fatwood firewood that’s nearly.

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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6 Things to Consider When Buying a Fire Pit

IMG_8098Looking for a new fire pit? Humans have used natural and man-made structures to contain their fires for centuries. Even today, fire pits remain one of the popular trends in outdoor living, according to a recent landscaping study. But there are a few things to consider when buying a fire pit.

Usage

You should consider when and how the fire pit will be used, as some models are better suited for certain applications than others. If you want to take your fire pit camping or tailgating, for instance, you should choose a portable style that’s easy to carry.

Material

What material or materials is the fire pit made of? Steel is an excellent choice given its unique combination of properties that simply aren’t found elsewhere. Steel fire pits are safe, lightweight, easy to clean, look great, strong/durable and radiate a significant amount of heat. Some homeowners prefer the look of stone fire pits, but unlike steel, stone is susceptible to damage such as cracking and chipping. Furthermore, stone fire pits weight significantly more than steel, are not portable and don’t put off much radiant heat.

Manufactured

Where was the fire pit manufactured? If it was manufactured overseas, it may contain toxins and dangerous materials. Furthermore, customers who encounter a problem with these overseas fire pit may struggle to get a response by the company. This is why it’s recommended to choose a fire pit made here in the United States, such as those offered by S&S Fire Pits.

Cooking

If you plan to cook on your fire pit, you should choose a model with a flat rectangular or square grilling grate. A great that covers the entire cooking surface means you have to lift the entire grate off of it when you need to add some fuel.  Using this type of fire pit, you can grill burgers, steaks, hot dogs, pork chops, chicken, vegetables or pretty much whatever else your heart stomach desires.

Style

Arguably, one of the most important things to consider when choosing a fire pit is the style. A good fire pit should posses a unique rustic appearance, enhancing your home’s exterior. Avoid cheap, run-of-the-mill fire pits and choose a stylish model instead.

Cost

Of course, you’ll probably want to consider the cost when shopping for a new fire pit. Some models can easily run you well over $1,000. Price, however, isn’t always an indication of quality. Here at S&S Fire Pit, we offer some of the finest-quality hand-crafted fire pits on the market, all for sale at affordable prices.

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 Brew Coffee Over a Campfire

coffee-1576537_960_720222Enjoyed by roughly 83% of the United States adult population, coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages. But if you plan on going camping, you probably won’t have the luxury of using a slow-drip coffeemaker. Nonetheless, there are still ways to brew a delicious cup of Joe, which we’re going to explore in today’s blog post.

Percolator

Campers have been using percolators to make coffee for decades. Consisting of a tall pot with a small chamber for holding the ground beans, it’s a great way to make delicious coffee while camping.

To use a percolator, fill the main chamber with water and then place the coffee grounds into the small holding chamber. A good rule of thumb is to use roughly 1 tablespoon of coffee grounds per cup of water. If you’re making two cups of coffee, try using two tablespoons of coffee grounds. However, if you prefer stronger coffee with more “kick,” you can always add more.

After adding the water and ground coffee to your percolator, place it over your campfire and bring to a low boil. You can usually tell when it’s boiling by listening, as the water should create a “roaring” sound. Once the water comes to a boil, move the percolator off to the side where it’s exposed to less heat. Allow it to simmer under this low heat for 5-10 minutes, after which you can pour the coffee and enjoy!

French Press

Another method used to make coffee while camping involves a special pot known as a French press. It’s often preferred over the percolator because of its ability to brew large amounts of coffee.

To use a French press, place the ground coffee in the main chamber, add boiling water, and allow it to steep for 4-6 minutes. Next, gently press on the plunger so it pushes the ground coffee to the bottom. You can then serve and enjoy!

Instant Coffee

Of course, an alternative method is to use instant coffee. You can buy boxes/packets of “instant coffee” at most grocery stores and supermarkets. To use them, simply bring a pot of water to a boil, carefully pour a cup’s worth of boiling water into a mug, stir in the instant coffee, and enjoy! While easier, many people prefer the more authentic taste of coffee that’s been brewed more slowly.

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 Safety Tips to Prevent Injury

sea-1804591_960_720Did you know that campfires are one of the most common reasons for forest fires, as well as injury to campers? Whether you’re camping in the mountains, on the coast, in the forest or elsewhere, you’ll probably want to build a fire. Campfires offer more than just warmth and cooking fuel: they boost morale while promoting greater social interaction in the process. But if you plan on building a campfire, you should follow these tips to reduce the risk of injury.

Circle the Fire Pit with Rocks

If there are no existing fire rings available at your preferred campsite, create your own with a circle of small-to-mid-sized rocks. This helps to contain the fire, preventing it from escaping and igniting nearby trees and plants.

Don’t Wear Nylon

What’s wrong with wearing nylon clothes, accessories or gear when building a campfire? Well, this synthetic fabric is highly flammable, and exposure to a stray ember could set it ablaze. There have been countless cases of campers sustaining serious burns simply by wearing nylon near a fire. Only wear fitted, non-flammable clothing around a campfire.

Beware of Wind Direction

You should also consider wind direction when building campfires. Strong winds can send flaming-hot embers flying across the landscape, igniting nearby materials. A good rule of thumb is to build your campfire against a non-flammable wind block, such as a ridge. If the winds get too bad, you can rest assured knowing that your campfire is safely contained and won’t spark a wildfire.

Don’t Touch Hot Embers

I know this probably sounds like common sense, but it’s still worth mentioning that you should never touch hot embers. Even if the embers “look” cool, they could still be holding more than enough heat to leave serious burns. Before leaving your campsite, pour a small amount of water over the embers to safely extinguish them.

Avoid Cedar and Pine

Don’t burn cedar, pine or other non-soft wood in your campfire. These woods are more likely to pop, which could send a hot ember shooting towards you or other campers. Choose dry hardwood to burn in your campfire. And when adding it to your campfire, gently place it on top. Throwing firewood into a burning campfire could result in injury, as embers may shoot up into the air.

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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Wood-Burning Fire Pit Tips

Lincoln log stackingFire pits require some type of fuel to operate, with the most common sources of fuel being liquid propane or wood. Assuming you choose the latter, you should follow the tips outlined below.

Don’t Burn Lumber or Pressure-Treated Wood

It’s important to burn the right type of wood in your fire pit. A good rule of thumb is to only burn dry, native firewood in your fire pit. Avoid burning pressure-treated wood or lumber, which often contains harsh and otherwise dangerous chemicals. Even if a piece of wood “looks” natural, it may contain chemicals to discourage rot — chemicals that are released into the environment when burned. The bottom line is that you should only burn dry, natural firewood in your fire pit.

Safely Dispose of Ashes

Ashes can retain enough heat to ignite paper, grass, and other flammable materials well over 24 hours after the fire has gone out. So even if your fire pit looks and feels cool, the ashes could pose a serious fire hazard. To reduce the risk of a fire, wait until your ashes have completely cooled before dumping them. And when you’re ready to dump them, dump the ashes in a metal bucket and NOT the trash can.

Cover it

Try to get into the habit of covering your fire pit when it’s not being used. Leaving your fire pit exposed to the elements may cause rain to fill inside, which can mix with your ashes to create a mess. This shouldn’t cause any lasting damage, but it’s still something that most consumers want to avoid. Covering your fire pit prevents this from happening while keeping it nice and dry.

Choose a Safe Location

When choosing a location for your fire pit, make sure it’s away from your house, trees, overhanging branches, and other flammable materials. And don’t leave your fire pit burning unattended.

…Or Use Ashes for Other Purposes

Instead of disposing of your fire pit’s ashes, you may want to use them for other purposes. We talk about common uses for fire pit ashes in a previous blog post, which includes odor eliminator, stain remover, garden compost, insect repellent, wine sediment remover, and more. Whether you plan on using it for one of these purposes or not, though, make sure the ashes are cool before moving them.

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 Grill a Pittsburgh-Style Steak

steak-1076665_960_720222Whether you live in Pennsylvania or not, you can enjoy a delicious Pittsburgh-style steak grilled on your backyard fire pit. The term “Pittsburgh-style” refers to a specific grilling method in which the outside of the steak is charred while the inside remains rare or medium-rare. The outside is exposed to a hot flame, essentially searing it without cooking up the inside.

A Little Bit About Pittsburgh-Style Steaks…

What’s the big deal surrounding Pittsburgh steaks? Well, let’s first take a few steps back to reveal the characteristics of this steak. It’s unknown who exactly invented the Pittsburgh-style steak, although reports indicate that it originated out of the steel mills in the city from which it was named. Mill workers needed a filling, high-calorie meal, but they typically only had half-an-hour for lunch. Being that they had access to blast furnaces, however, they came up with the idea of searing the steak on the outside while leaving the inside rare.

A Pittsburgh-style steak can be cooked in many different ways. Back then, they were cooked on blast furnaces, which reach temperatures of more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Today, however, most people prefer to cook their Pittsburgh-style steaks on a traditional open-flame grill. This offers a delicious smokey flavor, along with the high heat needed for this unique cooking method.

Pittsburgh-style steaks are particularly delicious because of their juiciness. By searing the outside, it locks in the steak’s juices. So when you sit down at the table and cut into your steak, you’ll be treated with an ultra-juicy steak that’s loaded with flavor.

Tips for Cooking the Perfect Pittsburgh-Style Steak

  • Season the outside of the steak heavily with your preferred blackening seasoning. This not only provides more flavor, but it also helps to sear the outside.
  • Get your fire pit or grill as HOT as possible by using a decent amount of firewood.
  • Wait at least 7-10 minutes before placing the steak on the grill, as this heats up the grate.
  • Place your steak on the hottest part of the grill, which is usually the very center.
  • A good rule of thumb is to cook a 1-inch-thick steak for roughly 3-4 minutes per side for Pittsburgh-style.
  • After cooking your steak, remove it from the grill and let it sit for 2 minutes before consuming. This allows the juice to settle, creating even more flavor.
  • Now enjoy!

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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Keeping Your Campfire Burning in the Rain

bonfire-1835829_960_720Wouldn’t it be great if you had clear and sunny skies every time you went camping? Sure it would! But unfortunately mother nature doesn’t always go this way. While rainfall varies from state to state, most regions in the United States receive “measurable precipitation” 155 days per year.

It’s hard to fully enjoy a camping trip when it rains. The rainfall can force you campers to stay in their tents while putting out their campfires in the process. There’s no way to control mother nature, but you can follow some simple steps when building and maintaining your campfire to keep it burning in the rain. Here’s how you do it.

Choose the Right Location

Building a rainproof campfire begins with choosing the right location. Ideally, you should build your campfire in a location that’s guarded from the rain. The base of an overhanging ridge, for instance, is an excellent choice. The ridge should shield some, if not all, of the rain from reaching your campfire. The ground should also be dry or semi-dry.

Of course, this isn’t always an option. If you are camping in a state park or wildlife refuge, there may be laws requiring campers to build fires in existing fire rings. If you are unable to build a campfire in a “dry” location, create a cover over the campfire using wood and branches. Just remember to build this cover high enough so it doesn’t catch flame.

Sparking the Fire

Getting a campfire started in the rain an be tedious and time-consuming process. If you have a dry area, however, you should be able to start it with relative ease using dry kindling and tinder. Pocket lint, for instance, will ignite in no time at all.

Collect Dry Fuel

You’ll also need plenty of dry fuel to keep your campfire going in the rain. This is where many campers mess up, as they struggle to find adequate fuel for their fire. Tree bark, particularly that from birch trees, is an excellent source of fuel. It contains natural oils that repel moisture, so it may burn even if it’s semi-moist.

You can strip wood from other types of trees to use in your campfire as well. If the bark is saturated with moisture, use a knife to strip a thin layer from the outside and always keep a tarp over your wood to help keep it dry.

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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5 Tips on Cleaning Your Grill Grate

grill-1532484_960_720There’s nothing that compares to the smokey taste of a grilled steak or burger. Sure, you can always cook meats such as these on your stove, but it doesn’t have the same rich flavor achieved by grilling. This is one of the reasons why so many home chefs prefer grilling. But if you plan on grilling, you’ll need to clean the grate on a regular basis.

Burn it off

There are several ways to clean a grill grate, although one of the easiest is to simply burn off the remaining food and debris. Create a hot bed of coals and close the lid to your fire pit or grill. After 15-20 minutes, most of the food should have burned off.

Place it in the Oven

Some sources recommend cleaning grill grates by placing them in the oven. Assuming your oven has a “self-cleaning” mode, you could remove the grate and place it inside the oven using this setting. The high heat should make easy work of even the most stubborn food and debris. Keep in mind, however, that self-cleaning ovens can take between 1.5 to 4 hours to complete, during which you won’t be able to open or use the oven.

Cover with Aluminum Foil

Another idea is to cover your grate with aluminum foil and then burn off the food and debris. The aluminum foil works by magnifying the heat, making the cleaning process just a little easier. Just 10-15 minutes of high heat with the grate covered in aluminum foil should clean it.

Brush it and Oil it

If you have a high-quality steel grate, you can probably clean it using nothing more than a wire grill brush. Of course, it’s a good idea to heat up the grate beforehand, after which you can brush the surface to remove any food or debris and oil it with any kind of cooking oil.

Grill Maintenance

Cleaning your grill grate is only half the battle. Unless you follow some basic maintenance and care tips, you’ll find yourself brushing and scraping it after each use. The golden rule of grilling is to never place anything inorganic on the grill. This includes, but is not limited to, plastic, styrofoam, and chemicals used to pressure treat wood. These items can stick to your grate, making it difficult to clean. And to make matters worse, many inorganic items release toxic fumes when burned.

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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Tinder vs Kindling: What’s the Difference?

fire-1762096_960_720You typically need three things when building a fire: tinder, kindling, and fuel. Of course, fuel is the material being burned to produce the fire, which is usually timber in varying sizes. So, what is tinder and kindling?

Tinder is the smallest of the three aforementioned materials, and it’s used to initially start the fire. Good tinder should light easy, create a strong but short-lived flame, and be thinner than your finger (fat tinder is hard to burn). Examples include birch bark, fatwood, dry pine needles and grass. However, cotton balls are another excellent source of tinder, as they engulf into a large flame once lit.

The key thing to remember when choosing tinder is that it should be easy to light. This is the material that you’ll attempt to light directly when starting your fire. If the tinder is too big, moist, or simply not burnable, you’ll have a hard time getting your fire going. When lighting tinder, you should gently blow on the flame so it spreads more easily. Blowing on the lit tinder provides it with oxygen while also distributing the embers throughout the fire.

Kindling is similar to tinder but differs in several ways. While tinder is the smallest of the three materials, kindling is slightly larger. It refers to any ignitable material that’s larger than tinder but smaller than firewood. Most people use small sticks for kindling, which ignite more quickly than the firewood and burn for longer than the tinder.

There are dozens of ways to build a campfire, including the tipi style, lean-to, log cabin, log cabin, etc. Regardless of which method you choose, though, it’s usually a good idea to build your fire by placing the tinder in the center and kindling stacked over it. When you light the tinder, the heat will rise up to the kindling, igniting it while subsequently creating enough heat to ignite the main firewood.

Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of the difference between tinder and kindling. Tinder is small, loose material that burns fast and easily, whereas kindling is small sticks that burns more slowly. There’s no rule stating that you must use them all when building a fire, but doing so will certainly make the process easier. Refer to this blog post the next time you build a fire for tinder and kindling tips.

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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What’s the Best Wood for Smoking Meat?

IMG_8065There’s nothing that compares to the flavor of smoked meat. Whether it’s beef, pork, chicken or fish, smoking adds a unique and downright delicious flavor that’s simply not achieved through other cooking methods. However, it’s important to choose the right wood when smoking meat, as this will affect its flavor and overall quality.

Hickory

One of the best all-around woods for smoking meats is hickory. It creates a medium-to-heavy sweet flavor with a hint of bacon. Hickory wood is great for smoking pork, ham and beef, although it’s perfectly fine to use it for other meats as well, assuming you want a sweet flavor. Hickory is inexpensive and easy to find, making it the “go to” choice for many backyard chefs. Of course, there are other woods to consider when smoking meats, so don’t limit yourself to only using hickory.

Oak

Hickory might be the most popular wood for smoking meat, but oak is a close second. A good rule of thumb is to use heavy woods like oak and hickory for heavy meats like beef and pork, while lighter woods should be used for smoking lighter meats like chicken and fish. Oak offers a similar flavor as its hickory counterpart, adding a touch of sweetness to your meat.

Maple

We can’t talk about woods to smoke meat without mentioning maple. Classified as a lighter wood, it offers a milder and more subtle flavor than its heavy wood counterpart.

Walnut

Walnut creates a strong, heavy smoking flavor. For this reason, many people prefer using it when mixed with lighter woods like maple. Walnut is great for any type of red meat, but you should follow the rule “less is more,” using a small amount of walnut when smoking meat.

Regardless of which wood you choose when smoking meat, make sure it’s dry. If it contains too much moisture, it will burn slowly and produce more soot, which can negatively impact the flavor of your meat. The bottom line is that you should allow your wood to dry out before using it to smoke meat. If the wood is store-bought, it’s probably already dry. But if you harvested it by hand, there’s a good chance that it contains a high moisture content, in which case you’ll have to dry it.

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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Beginner’s Tips for Using a Fire Pit

Group with kidsA fire pit is the perfect accessory for a residential outdoor living space. It offers both functional and aesthetic benefits, allowing homeowners to enjoy the outdoors. But if this is your first time owning a fire pit, there are a few things you should know. Check out the following beginner’s tips to get the most use of out your fire pit.

Cover it

When your fire pit isn’t being used,  cover it with a steel snuffer lid and keep the ashes cleared.  This will allow rainwater to drain if your fire pit has a proper drain hole.  Furthermore, rainwater can turn your fire pit ashes into a sludge-like mess that’s difficult to clean. Problems such as these are easily avoided, however, by covering your fire pit when it’s not being used.

The 10-Foot Rule

A good rule of thumb is to place your fire pit at least 10 feet away from anything flammable, including your home, shed, overhanging branches, bushes, etc. This reduces the risk of a stray ember floating away and sparking a fire. Even so, you should never leave a fire pit (or any fire for that matter) burning while unattended.

Encourage Airflow

When arranging your firewood in a fire pit, don’t pile it in a single clump. Rather, arrange the firewood so there’s space in between the wood. This allows air to flow more easily through the fire wood, which in turn encourages a hotter, brighter-burning fire.

Burn Only Natural Firewood

Don’t try to burn yard debris, old furniture, or pressure-treated lumber. Instead, you should only burn natural firewood in your fire pit. Other forms of wood that seem okay may contain toxic chemicals that when burned, are released into the air.

Clean the Grill Grate

If you use your fire pit to cook, which you probably will, you should get into the habit of cleaning and oiling the grate on a regular basis. When food particles harden on the grate, some of this debris can transfer to your food. Furthermore, this harden food provides an ideal environment for rust and corrosion. To prevent this from happening, use a wire brush to clean your fire pit’s grill grate, preferably after each use. Some people prefer to clean the grate after cooking on their fire pit, as the grate is still warm; thus, it’s easier to clean.

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/