The first thing out of Johnny’s mouth when we got a propane fire pit was “can we roast marshmallows on it?” This is a pretty common question, and not just from kids. In fact, when Johnny asked that question he was in his early 40s.
But seriously, it’s nearly impossible to have a fire without busting out the marshmallows, roasting skewers, graham crackers, and chocolate bars. So it’s only natural that you’d wonder about doing it over a propane fire pit.
After all, nearly all gas fire pits are rated as decorations. Chances are if you look at the manual, it will say that you should not cook on it. But, I don’t want to keep you in suspense, so let’s answer this question upfront: can you roast marshmallows on a propane fire pit?
Yes, you absolutely can. But there are some things you need to keep in mind to make sure your fire pit lasts you a good long time. If you follow a few simple guidelines, you can roast 1,000 marshmallows on your propane fire pit easily.
Read on to discover why propane pit manufacturers warn you against cooking on their fire pits, best practices for marshmallow roasting, and what to look for that will tell you that you may not want to roast anything on your fire pit.
Common Questions Answered
To start off, let’s take a look at some common questions people have about roasting marshmallows over a propane fire pit.
Does it Make The Marshmallows Taste Funny?
Propane is cleaner-burning than wood is. That is to say that you have a better chance of getting a funny tasting marshmallow when cooking over a wood fire than you do when cooking over a propane fire.
The propane you use for a fire pit is the very same that you use for a propane-powered grill. It won’t impart a chemical taste onto your marshmallows.
Can You Roast Marshmallows Over Lava Rocks?
Yes, you can. In fact, may gas grills use lava rocks to help distribute the heat so your food cooks evenly. Some propane fire pits have fire glass instead of lava rocks, which you can also roast ‘mallows over.
Is it Safe?
There’s always a degree of risk when you’re dealing with open flames, but propane fire pits are generally very safe. With adult supervision and basic fire precautions, you can enjoy a fun time roasting marshmallows with kids and adults of all ages.
Are Burnt Marshmallows Bad For You?
Scorched black marshmallows may taste pretty good, but they’re not the best thing for you. However, eating a burnt marshmallow once in a while is probably fairly harmless. (I am not a doctor, and this is not medical advice). Getting your ‘mallow nice and toasted without burning it is your best bet at a healthy, tasty roasting experience.
Why There’s a Warning Against Cooking on Your Propane Fire Pit
The fact is that propane fire pits have not been tested as cooking appliances, like gas grills often are. Aside from the fact that they’re not designed for cooking, there’s the issue of legality. If a company doesn’t explicitly include what not to do with an appliance or an item, they may get sued when someone does something crazy with it and gets injured or worse.
That is not to say that you should wholly ignore this warning. You really shouldn’t cook anything other than the occasional marshmallow on your propane fire pit, for reasons I’ll get into below.
What Else Can You Cook On Your Propane Fire Pit?
I wouldn’t cook anything else on your propane fire pit. The nice thing about marshmallows, and why they’re ideal for cooking on a propane fire pit, is their lack of moisture. In other words, marshmallows don’t drip juices all over your fire pit that can dirty it up and clog up the burner holes.
Cooking meat, veggies, and other foods over a propane fire pit is asking for a mess and possibly even a safety hazard.
The Effects of a Dropped Marshmallow
Of course, if you drop a marshmallow into your fire pit (which is bound to happen eventually) it’s going to take some cleaning. Unfortunately, if you don’t handle it right away, the marshmallow can solidify on your lava rocks or fire glass, meaning you’ll probably have to throw those affected pieces away.
Just make sure the pieces are cool before you try to clean or move them. Fire glass tends to hold heat longer than lava rocks, which cool fairly quickly.
Juices and other debris from food can work their way through the fire media and into burner holes, causing clogs. Food particles can also attract rodents and insects, which can chew through wires and gas lines or clog holes.
Really, cooking anything other than marshmallows on a propane fire pit is more trouble than it’s worth. Stick to s’mores and keep your media clean, and you’ll be able to enjoy your fire pit for a long time to come.
When Not To Roast Marshmallows on a Propane Fire Pit
Generally speaking, it’s perfectly safe to roast marshmallows over a propane flame. However, you do want to think about what the flame and heat are touching before they reach your uncooked ‘mallow. Most fire pits come with some sort of media— that is, the rocks, glass, or other substance that covers the burner and helps disperse the flames.
Things like lava rocks and fire glass tend to be very safe, but in the interest of caution, I would suggest making sure your particular propane gas media hasn’t been treated with chemicals or some sort of protective coating. This is not common practice as far as I know, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the possibility.
The same can be said for your fire pit itself. Different manufacturers use different materials for the structure of their fire pits. Plus, you’re technically not supposed to cook anything over them, so they’re not tested for food safety like propane grills are.
Know Your Pit
After you take your fire pit out of the box, have a few sessions with it before you start roasting marshmallows. This will give it a chance to burn off anything strange that may have gathered unintentionally. And make sure your media is clean!
Now that I got that out of the way, back to the fun stuff!
The Best Marshmallow Roasting
There are certain tactics and supplies you can utilize to make sure your marshmallow roasting sessions are a success. I’ll start with supplies and move on to my favorite method for the perfect marshmallow— whether it be for a s’more or for eating straight off the stick.
Best Roasting Sticks
I recommend that you use a roasting stick that has at least two prongs. This is important for marshmallow security, so you don’t lose it in the fire. Of course, you can use any number of things you have around the house (or even the yard) to roast marshmallows, but one of the following roasting sticks will make your life easier.
Standard Roasting Skewers
These two-tong telescoping sticks are great for roasting marshmallows over your propane fire pit. They extend out to 32-inches and come with a handy carrying bag. This is a pack of 12.
Safety Roasting Sticks
If you’re concerned about the pointy tips of regular roasting sticks, you may try these safety roasting sticks. Their points are curved inward so you’re less likely to have a poking accident. However, they aren’t completely safe because they do still have points.
Adult supervision is always best when near any kind of fire— especially when you add sugar and pointy things into the mix! These are about 20-inches closed and 30-inches when they’re extended. They also have nice wooden handles for easy gripping.
Best Marshmallow Roasting Method
There’s an art to getting your marshmallow just right. It needs to be crispy enough to be crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside, but not burnt enough to turn black. At least, that’s how I like them. Here’s my suggested method:
- Apply one marshmallow to your poker (two if you’re feeling adventurous). Make sure the ‘mallow is on there securely. I like to do this by sliding the ‘mallow on until I see about a ¼-inch of the tip on the other side.
- Look for a place with steady flames. This should be easy enough with most propane fire pits.
- Start by holding the marshmallow about an inch above the flame, rotating it on occasion to get all sides.
- When it starts to turn a pale golden-brown, I like to put it directly in the flame and turn it for one or two quick rotations— no more than 2 or 3 seconds. If you do this right, you won’t burn the marshmallow and it will come out with a nice, crispy shell.
- Let it cool a bit and eat it off the poker, or smash it between chocolate and graham crackers. If you want to get really crazy, add some peanut butter to the mix! Delicious!
Like I said, there’s an art to this. Even now I sometimes burn the marshmallow by sticking it directly in the fire for too long. I know it’s not the healthiest thing in the world, but a little burnt carbon once in a while isn’t going to take years off my life (I don’t think). And even if it does, it was worth it.
Cleanup and Maintenance
Once you’re done with your roasting session, it’s pretty easy to clean everything up (provided you didn’t drop any food into the fire). The nice thing about a propane fire pit is you only have to turn the knob to put out the fire. But, to make your sessions as clean and safe as possible, you’ll want to clean your fire pit media occasionally.
The Black Film On Fire Media
Propane can leave a black residue on your fire glass or lava rocks. This is the result of the gas burning and is unavoidable with propane fire pits. However, it’s easy to clean and nothing to be worried about.
One thing you can do is get dark-colored fire glass so the soot won’t be easily visible after every burn. But, even if you have dark fire glass, it’s a good idea to clean it on occasion. If you have lava rocks, the soot is less noticeable, but you’ll still want to clean them occasionally, as well.
Cleaning Your Fire Glass or Lava Rocks
If you have burnt marshmallow on your fire glass, you can try soaking the pieces in vinegar and baking soda solution before performing the following steps. However, if the marshmallow was burning in the fire pit for more than a few minutes, you’re probably better off just throwing those pieces away and getting new ones.
If you have burnt marshmallow on lava rocks, I wouldn’t suggest even attempting to clean them, as all the little holes and pocks can make it downright impossible. Instead, just replace them.
Always wear protective gloves when handling fire glass or lava rocks. There can be sharp broken pieces that can cut your hands.
- Carefully remove the fire media from the fire pit.
- Place the fire media in a colander or strainer. You’ll probably have to do a little bit at a time, depending on how much media you have.
- Rinse in water from a sink or a hose.
- When the fire media is wet, you can apply a bit of dish soap and mix it with your hands to get the suds working on all the pieces.
- Rinse the suds away and set aside for drying. For quicker drying, spread the fire media out on a towel or another clean surface.
Note: Make sure all your fire media is 100% dry before using your propane fire pit again. Any moisture that becomes trapped in a cracked or broken piece of fire glass or lava rock can expand and cause the piece to burst. Although this is rare, it’s something to avoid by fully drying your fire media.
Now you know that you absolutely can roast marshmallows on a propane fire pit. You’re also armed with suggestions on supplies to use, how to roast the perfect ‘mallow, and how to clean your fire pit media on occasion.
Remember to stick to marshmallows for propane fire pit cooking. Other food will cause more trouble than it’s worth. And just to be sure, do a couple of burns on your new fire pit before cooking anything. Keep in mind that, if your fire pit has a warranty, any food-related mishaps won’t be covered. Still, it’s easy to have a fun and safe time roasting marshmallows on your propane fire pit, no matter how old you are!