Humans have lived intimately with fire for millennia. Only in the last several decades, in the most energy consuming nations, has fire gone MIA from our daily lives. Our yearning for fire is evident in the continued popularity of home fireplaces. Fire style has gone outdoors, too, with the array of hot accessories for deck or landscape. Your old Scout campfire was just the tip of the outdoor warmth iceberg! New offerings under the banner "Fire Pit" make a wonderful, cozy focal point in the landscape. Like a campfire, a fire pit can serve as a simple backyard kitchen for roasting up marshmallows and hot dogs. After the meal, the fire pit invites the gardener and friends to kick back and "chill," in a toasty sort of way.

A coffee table style fire pit brings wood fire to a more comfortable height

Metal, kettle style fire pits began appearing in discount and home stores a few years ago, and their sales took off like wildfire! These wide bowls give welcome relief from crouching around an open fire on the ground. They sit low, like a coffee table, certainly a wise idea for something that holds a pile of flaming wood chunks. Sometimes called fire bowls, metal fire pits are offered in decor styles to match any home. Accents of copper or bronze, and textured finishes add eye appeal, as do cutouts that glow when flames flicker behind them. A few provide a tile border handy for your coffee mug or marshmallow fork. Fire pits can be round or square.

Wood burning fire pits range in size from a portable 24-inch diameter to a sturdy 36 inches or so across. Most are a variation on a gigantic metal bowl with no sort of drainage or ash hopper. A screen cover comes with most wood burning fire pits. This spark screeen adds a good measure of fire safety. The fire pit may include a vinyl cover. The vinyl is placed on after the pit has completely cooled, and keeps rainwater from collecting in the bowl. Remember that these items are NOT recommended for use on a wood deck. (This thing is designed to burn wood - think about it) But if you insist on siting a fire pit on a wood deck, buy a heat proof "mat" or tiles and lay an ample fire resistant surface under your fire pit.

Stone fire pits kits for wood fire on the ground

Assemble a beautiful stone fire pit in an afternoon and enjoy it that night. The same people who make those concrete, stacking, wall blocks also make fire pit kits. A kit supplies the stone needed to stack up a three foot wide, low wall. This wall encloses an included heavy steel ring or square surround. The steel protects the blocks from temperature extremes. All of that is topped off with a smooth capstones. These kits can be installed on level ground, and may call for, or include, sand or gravel as a base layer.

Simplest of all, to "The sky's the limit," in fire pit style

The most basic of all possible fire pits is the black steel ring. But for today's consumer, the ring is gussied up with cutouts. Flickering flames and dancing coals give life to silhouetted horses, bears, or moose (meese?) The ring contains some of the ash and makes it clear just where to add wood. This would be a great firepit for the rustic lodge or country retreat. Installation couldn't be easier; plop it on the ground. And on the other end of the spectrum are firepits in incredibly imaginative shapes and styles. Some weatherproof fire pits could qualify as year-round garden art. Want a sphere with forest scene silhouettes? You can have it. How about your alma mater in cutout stencil on a firepit? Yup, they sell that. And to satisfy even more whims, almost any style discussed in wood buring fire pit is also offered in a model fueled by propane (the same kind of tank used on a gas grill) or natural gas (connected to a home supply.)

Stylish fire pits add a relaxing, cozy ambiance to any evening. Be sure every evening around the fire ends on a happy note. Follow all manufacturer instructions for siting and operating a fire pit.