Wouldn’t it be great to have the best of both worlds? To have a gas fire pit that you could burn wood in whenever you wanted? Unfortunately this is one of those instances where it’s impossible to have your cake and eat it too. Or, should I say, have your gas and burn wood too.
There seems to be some contention online about this because one fire pit is supposedly a hybrid. I’ll get into this as I answer the question: can I burn wood in a gas fire pit?
There is an easy answer to this right up front: No, you cannot burn wood in a gas fire pit. There are a couple of reasons for this, but number one is that gas fire pits can’t handle the kind of heat that a wood fire puts out. Burning wood on a gas fire pit would destroy the pit, making it unusable in the future. Plus, gas fire pits have pipes and valves that provide gas for the flame. Burning logs on top of those lines and valves can be a safety hazard, not to mention they’ll get clogged with ash very quickly.
Read on to discover why this isn’t possible and what you can do instead if you want to have a gas and wood-burning fire pit.
The Heat From Wood
Gas fire pits tend to give off less heat than wood fire pits. Without getting too technical, I’ll break this down here. Heat output is measured by BTUs, which are British Thermal Units. Different types of wood are capable of different BTUs, but most wood can generate more heat than either propane or natural gas, which typical gas fire pits use.
As a result, gas fire pits are not designed to withstand more heat than the gas is capable of generating. So, if you were to burn wood on a gas fire pit, the heat from the coals alone would be capable of damaging it.
Gas Fire Pit Design
Gas fire pits also necessitate a certain design that is not compatible with wood burning. Nearly all gas fire pits come with some sort of fireproof material that you put over the burner, like lava rocks, fire glass, or artificial logs. This material not only covers up the metal burner (who wants to see that anyway?), but it also helps the flames spread out and look more natural.
So, when you look at a gas fire pit in action, it’s easy to think that you could put wood on top of the lava rocks or fire glass and start a wood fire. But, if you moved the materials covering the burner, you would see just how easy it would be for a wood fire to damage it.
Gas burners are generally just pipes made out of brass or stainless steel with holes in them. Ash could easily get inside these holes and clog the burner, quickly making it unusable and a safety hazard as well. Underneath the burner is a metal fire pit pan, and underneath that is a gas line that eventually leads to your gas supply. Damaging the supply line could have disastrous consequences.
When you’re dealing with any kind of gas, it’s best to stay as safe as possible. Even outside there a chance that something could go wrong, especially if you use the fire pit in any way that’s unintended.
Dealing with a wood fire can be hard enough, without adding the possibility of a gas leak to the picture. So, it’s best just to stick with one or the other when it comes to wood and gas fire pits. Or, you can have one of each to use when you like.
Contention On The Internet
There is one fire pit that comes up on a Google search for a hybrid gas and wood fire pit called the Vesta Fia. I’m not totally clear on how this particular fire pit got branded as such, but it definitely is not a hybrid. The company does make the same style of fire pit for wood, but they don’t offer a model that can be used with wood and gas.
My guess is it was an error that someone made while doing their marketing. Or perhaps it was done by someone they have no affiliation with, which is entirely possible. Most of the hits come from Pinterest, which anyone can post on.
Conclusion: One of Each
Theoretically you could make a gas fire pit whose structure could withstand the heat of a wood fire, but you would have to remove all of the gas components from the pit before you could use it with wood. It would be more trouble than it’s worth.
Your best bet is to buy or make one of each, and use them as you like. There are many affordable and portable propane gas fire pits you can purchase. The same goes for wood fire pits, although I would suggest moving a wood pit only after it has fully cooled.
If you do purchase one of each, it’s a good idea to keep them 10 to 15 feet apart if you want to use them at the same time. And remember which one is which so you don’t accidentally throw wood on your gas pit! 😉
Now you know why you can’t burn wood on a gas fire pit! No matter which one you choose, enjoy it safely!