Light Up your Outdoor Fire Experience!

In most parts of the country, it’s an enjoyable time of year – spending plenty of time outside with friends, family and neighbors. And, if you’ve been working away at big outdoor projects, we bet you deserve some relaxation too. What is more tranquil than an outdoor fire? Plus, it definitely gets us (and the teens) away from TV screens and mobile devices.

We’ve got some fun family projects, fire pit ideas and tips on wood selection to share. Whether you are a serious outdoors person or a backyard enthusiast, we hope you find something to enjoy!

General Shale Outdoor Fire Pits & More

The first rule of safe fires is containment. You must have a pit made with non-combustible material, like stone, brick or steel with a concrete, sand or gravel base. To do it right, you need to do your research and invest in the proper materials. You can find lots of ideas and instructions on Pinterest or YouTube.

If you want a professional look and long-lasting performance, our General Shale Outdoor Fire Pit kits are reasonably priced and designed for beginner DIY skills. It’s a great family project and something you can enjoy for many, many years.

Wood Preparation & Selection

Sometimes the firewood you find for sale is green, which means it won’t burn well and will smoke quite a bit. Be prepared to store this wood for at least a year; many hardwoods need a year or two (or more) to properly dry or ‘season’. Or, look for wood with a greyish, worn exterior for stuff that’s ready to burn.

Hardwood is denser and burns hotter and longer. It’s more expensive, but you’ll use less. If softwood is readily available and you don’t mind feeding the fire more continuously, this is a fine option!

Twelve Great Woods to Burn*

  1. Apple: Great for cooking, this wood burns slow when dry and has a fragrant scent.
  2. Ash: One of the best woods for a steady fire and good heat. Although ash will burn when green, it burns better when seasoned.
  3. Birch: This wood smells great, and has good heat but burns quickly. It will also burn unseasoned, but can cause gum deposits in chimneys over time if you use it indoors.
  4. Black thorn: Considered one of the best of the firewoods, because it burns well and doesn’t smoke much.
  5. Cherry: Season this wood well and you’ll have a slow burning wood that smells wonderful.
  6. Hawthorn: This wood will burn slowly and hot for your autumn fires.
  7. Maple: Found in different regions of the nation, this hardwood is a popular one.
  8. Oak: When very well seasoned, oak burns slowly and steadily for a long time.
  9. Pine: This softwood burns well and smells inviting.
  10. Sycamore: You’ll be rewarded with a good flame and moderate heat if you season this wood well.
  11. Walnut: The hardwood burns long and hot with limited smoke. (This one works well in wood-burning stoves too).
  12. Yew: A pleasant smell comes from this slow-burning wood that gives off plenty of heat.


Add Some Color to Your Outdoor Fun!

Add some pizzazz to your next campfire! Check out these colorful flame products on or visit your local hardware or DIY store next time you’re in. Your guests will be amazed!

Glow Stick Lanterns

This project needs to be done by an adult, but the kids will love the effect. Fill a small jar with water and pour in the contents of a full size glow stick (or two) and pour it in! Break the stick first to activate it and be careful while pouring out the contents. Gently swish the water, but don’t shake it! A clear plastic container would work too and not be breakable.


Help Keep your Community Safe!

Before you get started on your outdoor fire pit project, check with your city, county or state government about rules and restrictions for open fires. Attend your fire at all times with a means for extinguishing the fire immediately at hand. Enjoy your summer fun!