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Building a Firepit

OmeksOmeks Registered User regular
edited September 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
I want to build a firepit in my backyard. Problem is (or maybe it's not a problem) there is a stump in the way, so...couple of questions:

1. Can you build a firepit on top of a stump and simply burn out the stump over time, or are there any risks or serious dangers (other than basic fire safety protocol) of doing this?
2. I'm thinking of doing with a circle or oval perimeter made out of stone or brick. Yea, nay or any better ideas?
3. Here are some pictures of the site in question. Let me know any pitfalls or areas of concern anyone might be able to see.

And yes, I do plan on buying a fire extinguisher to keep specifically outside, and I'm going to see if I'm required to have any kind of a burn permit by the city.

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  • FantasmaFantasma Registered User regular
    edited September 2012
    Perhaps you could get more info from here:,,1636191,00.html

    The instructions above require that you actually dig a shallow hole, so the slump should not be there.

    In any case, this is a copy and paste from Wikipedia:
    Stump removal

    Tree stumps can be difficult to remove from the ground. They can be dug out, shredded with a stump grinder or burnt.

    A common method for stump removal is to use one of the many chemical stump removal products, so long as immediate results are not needed. These stump removers are mostly made of potassium nitrate (KNO3) and act by rapidly increasing the decay of the stump. After an average of 4–6 weeks, the stump will be rotten through and easily fragmented in manageable pieces. If time is a limiting factor, setting fire to the stump is effective because once the potassium nitrate has been absorbed it acts as an effective oxidizer.

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  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    the only problem I can see is that any fire pit you build near the stump is likely to be too close to the wooden fence for fire ordenances in your area.

  • naporeonnaporeon Registered User regular
    If you are in the US, you should also consider calling before you dig.

    (And yes, this even applies to removing the stump, quite apart from the firepit itself.)

  • finralfinral Registered User regular
    As an alternative to digging (doesn't solve your stump problem), you can lay out a tile or brick surface and enclose it in some sort of non flammable ring. This avoids the digging, and is something that can be moved in the future if need be.

  • PantshandshakePantshandshake Registered User regular
    Well, you would want to be concerned about root fires, depending on what kind of tree that was. And your blurry dog will probably ignite, so watch out for that.

    Me, I built a firepit a few months ago. I have a much bigger yard, and my town is pretty rural (for Connecticut,) but I just scraped about 2 inches down into the soil (I own a tractor...) filled the depression with gravel, and put an old rim from a tri-axle dump truck in there. Works like a charm, and it's just hick enough for my town.

  • Emissary42Emissary42 Registered User regular
    Fantasma wrote: »
    If time is a limiting factor, setting fire to the stump is effective because once the potassium nitrate has been absorbed it acts as an effective oxidizer.

    Yep, though it takes some time for the KNO3 to diffuse through the wood.

  • pacbowlpacbowl Los AngelesRegistered User regular
    We did exactly this at a house some friends and I went in on back in 1999. I would check your local laws for the legality of it but burning a stump into the ground isn't a problem. We had a huge oak tree in our backyard when we bought the house. Problem was it was dead. We chopped it up and hauled it away but the stump was an issue. So we built a ring around it with some rocks left over from a wall we built and turned it into a firepit. Then we threw a big party, lit the new pit and burned the stump into the ground. I wish I had pictures.

  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    You'd probably want to replace as much soil as possible with sand and build stone or concrete benches around it at a safe distance to act as both seating and containment. If you want to keep the stump, might as well cut a bowl not it to keep the burning material in place.

  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    Digging it up would be the fastest way. That way you can also just dig the proper pit while you are at it.

    Of course this is also the most back breaking method and can be a huge pain in the ass, but its what I would do.

    Also check on the applicable laws, some areas straight up ban fire pits, some areas have regulations about distances from fences or other property, etc etc.

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  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    honestly i agree with the fact that the stump is too close to the fence anyway,you probably want it more in line with where the dog is

  • Typhoid MannyTyphoid Manny Registered User regular
    make sure you move the dog first though.

    you definitely want a ring around the pit too, otherwise it's very easy for embers to get spread around and light your grass up if it's dry.

    pretty much a good way to do it is to dig out your pit, ring the outside with rocks maybe six inches high, and then to basically nullify the chances of the fire spreading out of control (barring truly freak accidents or stupidity involving gasoline) put down sand or bare dirt in a foot and a half- or two-foot radius around the outside of the ring. then put your logs or lawnchairs for seating on the sand.

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