The best types of fire pit for outdoor entertaining

Outdoor fire pit

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted May 02, 2022

Whether you’re looking to sit outside roasting marshmallows, telling ghost stories, or gathering with friends, an outdoor fire pit is a perfect addition to your entertainment space.

Fire pits are hot right now. As seen in renovation shows, exhibitions, and magazines, outdoor entertaining spaces are no longer ‘complete’ without the social fire pit.

Whether you're looking for warmth with a quiet cup of tea with your partner, singing Kumbaya by the campfire, or entertaining friends and family, find the best firepits and outdoor fireplaces for your household.

Types of outdoor fire pits

Providing heat, light, and a gathering place for the outer of your home, outdoor fire pits provide a perfect secondary location instead of your living room.

Depending on the size of your yard or entertaining intentions, there is a range of backyard fire pits, from in-ground to ethanol, and even fire pit tables  to suit your space and sense of occasion. 

Wood burning fire pit

For those looking for an ‘authentic’ outdoor fire pit that provides real fire, warmth, smoke, and crackle, a wood-burning fire pit may be what you are looking for. Wood fires are also cost-effective, as they don’t rely on gas or ethanol, are moveable, and can come in a range of options from cast iron to brick and even marble.

A wood burning fire pit is best for people who are comfortable around a real open flame, have a place to store firewood, and have the room to create a firepit ‘base’ in the outdoor area of their home. 

When installing, if above-ground and without legs, ensure your wood burning fire has a 'pit' of bricks or blocks to contain the fire in the base. 

Natural gas fire pit

With great fuel efficiency and little maintenance, gas fire pits have proven quite popular for those looking for a fire pit without the hassle of cutting firewood or ongoing maintenance, but still looking for an 'outdoor focal point' for the home. 

Natural gas fire pits also come in a range of options, from the top of your table to a sunken-outdoor lounge effect. A gas line does need to be installed for these to run, meaning they become a permanent fixture in your outdoor entertaining space. 


There's nothing like gathering with friends and family around an open fire. Image: Getty.
An outdoor wood burning fire pit is perfect for those wanting an authentic feel and the crack of fire. Image: Getty.
An outdoor wood burning fire pit is great for entertaining. Image: Lisa Luscombe (with permission from Melbourne Flower and Garden Show).
Natural gas fire pits can become quite the feature. Image: Getty.
A heated fire lamp is another way to bring warmth to the outside of your home. Image: Getty.

Propane fire pit

Propane fire pits are fuelled by propane gas in the tank, rather than firewood, meaning no heavy smoke or sparks. This also means they are portable, where the propane is stored in a tank that can then be attached to a fire pit, grill, or BBQ.

They are normally quite large and can be turned on at the flick of a switch. They can feature as a large in-ground centerpiece, as a fire pit table, or even utilised as a portable grill or solo stove for hot dogs, marshmallows, smoked meats and more.

Ethanol fire pit

A safer and more environmental option for those looking for a calm ambiance of light in the backyard, an ethanol fire pit is fuelled by ethanol, or biofuel, which is an alcoholic fuel source.

Sometimes using gel fuel, these are moveable and can come in many forms, from tabletop to a large log or typical rounded ‘pip’. These prove plenty of heat, are less ‘fiery’ than your regular wood-burning fires, and as such do not produce ash or smoke.

Remember to keep your outdoor fire pit area safe

Whether you go for wood burning, a tabletop fire pit, or an in-built patio masterpiece, just make sure you keep your fireplace safe for all to enjoy. 

When setting up your outdoor firepit, remember to keep abreast of local fire warnings in your area from the CFA. Always abide by fire safety rules, including positioning your fire pit three metres or more from large structures such as your home, furniture, and fence line. Ensure that any obstructions, such as overhanging trees, lights, or decoratvive features, are out of the way. 

To reduce the risk of fire spreading, set your fire pit upon a flat and level surface like gravel, as well as adhering to the requirements of your choice of the outdoor fire pit. 

If in doubt, look to have your home set-up checked by a qualified professional.