What is the Best Base for a Fire Pit?

The base of a fire pit refers to the bottom surface and ground material you use to burn fuelwood. The base is possibly one of the most important parts of lighting up a fire.

Without a proper base, the fire might never light. If it is lit, it can puff lots of smoke, as you try to keep the fire burning. Setting up the bottom is among the first steps to consider when setting up a fire pit. 

What is the Best Base for a Fire Pit?

A layer of sand is the best base for a fire pit, and after that, you can use a concrete slab. It’s the strongest and most durable.

Before you start constructing a fire pit you will need to consider a few things like local ordinances regarding fire pits, location, what kind of fire pit you want, how to build your fire pit, and even what to put in the bottom of your fire pit.

What is the Best Base for a Fire Pit

A built-in fire pit is an adored campfire, with sturdy walls of stone that help contain the flames and heat. That is especially important in the parts of the country where there’s a risk of brush fires.

Therefore, the first job in building a fire pit is checking local codes on open flames. The pit must be located far from the house, overhanging trees, and any other flammable structure.

However, the material you use while building the base of a fire pit is very important. Some materials cannot sustain high temperatures and can spark and explode if a fire gets extremely hot.


Sand is considered one of the most versatile and readily available materials for the bottom of fire pits. It is relatively cheap and easy to fix and offers a superb heat shield.

Sand allows for soak up heat and equally distributes it around a whole fire pit. It protects the metal bowl from the serious heat the fire can cause. There is no major problem with sand being at the bottom of a wood fire.

Ash mixes with the sand and creates a kind of slush you need to remove to clean. When removed, you can layer in the fresh sand in the pit.

The main advantages of using sand are to help to soak up the heat and consistently distribute the heat around the whole fire pit. Also, sand is good for protecting the metal bowl from powerful heat.


This is the first option available for use at the bottom of the fire pit. Dirt does not cost a single penny and it is readily available – you just need to dig it out from the outside.

However, while dirt is incredibly convenient and easy to use, you should know that the heat resistance it offers is slightly less when compared to sand.

The only problem with soil is that ash can mix with it to form terrible dirt, if it gets wet, can cause a big mess.

Not that it’s difficult to clean if you have a shovel to dig it out with so you can start over. If you use dirt, expect a little extra maintenance time.

Fire Pit Glass

They are highly durable and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Firepit glass is specifically designed for use in the pit.

They have high heat resistance and there is a very low chance of the fire glass exploding due to high temperature.

So, if you can afford to buy, you should definitely choose a fire pit glass.

Lava Rocks

Lava rocks have been specifically designed to be placed at the bottom of fire pits. Not only do they look good, but they are also extremely good conductors of heat.

You don’t need to worry about lava rock breaking, cracking, or exploding. Lava rock may require higher maintenance unless you have a gas fire pit.

Which is Which?

Learning what to put in the base of your fire pit takes more planning than you may have considered.

Some materials like hard rock, gravel, or sand were not meant to reach high temperatures and can spark and explode if your fire gets too hot.

Instead, use lava rocks for your fire pit or lava glass beads as filler for your fire pit. They are the safe way to create drainage and make your fire pit look good.

While some people choose to forgo fire pit filler and simply use a concrete or stone base, filler adds a nice aesthetic to your fire pit that can enhance your backyard landscaping.

Place a layer of sand at the bottom of the fire pit and then add the recommended 2-6 inches of filler on the top of it.

River rocks, sandstone, gravel, and natural rocks are not ideal fill for fire pits because they are more likely to crack or explode under high heat.

Rocks can absorb a lot of water, especially river rocks, and rocks that get too hot near a fire can explode. Even wet lava rock can also explode when exposed to high temperatures.

Simple Way of Building A Fire Pit

Add Sand

Layer sand on the base and tamp till level. You don’t have to just use sand either- Gravel works just as well. Cover the center of the pit with a thick layer of sand or gravel.

Stack Those Stones

Once the sand is down part, continue on your layering quest. Stack as many pavers around the circle to your liking, at least 12 inches above the ground.

You can build the wall as high as you like, but ensure there are at least two layers surrounding the shallow dig. Pour the second layer of sand into the circle, completely covering the first layer.

Make sure that overall, the sand is at least four inches deep.

Final Thoughts

The main benefit of using sand material is that it does well to soak up and distribute heat through the entire pit.

Even more, Sand offers extraordinary protection of the metal bowl, which can develop cracks due to heat.

While sand may not be necessarily simple to clean once you use the pit, it provides a high-quality solution for the bottom of a fire pit.

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