Portable Fire Pit in Just 5 Minutes!

5 Materials
$20
10 Minutes
Easy

If you're looking for fire pit ideas, this DIY outdoor fire pit is the easiest project imaginable. I first did it as a date night for me and hubby and it was a big hit. We used a much smaller terra cotta pot to set up the fire pit on our porch and had a nice romantic evening of s'mores making. Now, we set it up often when we are entertaining in our backyard. Fire pits add such a nice ambiance and create some delicious opportunities. Step 1: Gather Your Materials
I used a large terra cotta pot, some standard tinfoil and a bowlful of BBQ coals.
In this tutorial, I used a pretty large pot, but an even smaller one would work great too -- let the size of your party determine the size of your pot. Step 2: Line the Pot with Tin Foil
I ripped large pieces of the tin foil and used my hands to push the tin foil down and around the pot. This keeps the heat coming back up to you, and protects the pot a bit. Step 3: Add Coals
This time, I used coals because it takes so much less time to build a fire. But most of the time we have use a fire pit, we build our fire out of sticks. It's great fun for the kids to gather all the sticks, and things cooked over wood have a much better (less carcinogenic) taste. Step 4: Light Your Fire
Lighting coals goes very quickly. When I use sticks, I have to start with dried grass and smaller sticks and slowly build up the fire til it gets to a nice size.
Who needs an outdoor fireplace when you can make your own backyard fire pit so easily and cheaply?
And of course, the s'mores were delicious.
MMMMMMmmmm tastes like summer!
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Have a question about this project?

15 questions
  • Linda Halstrom
    on Jul 11, 2016

    Is the concrete patio harmed or stained?

    • Arlene claire
      on Jul 11, 2016

      I would use fireplace bricks or the "rugs" they sell to go under your grill, just in case. . . . . . . . .

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Jul 21, 2016

      Not the concrete. I did use it on our wood deck, but I was very nervous

  • Laurie Harry
    on Jul 11, 2016

    Where did you get your pot? I've never seen one like this.

    • Suekozin
      on Jul 11, 2016

      Try a nursery (plant) in your area. Many sell pots of different sizes. Or Home Depot.

    • Ram6650343
      on Jul 12, 2016

      Looks like pot that a hose can be stored in

    • Reen
      on Jul 12, 2016

      I got mine at Lowes

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Jul 13, 2016

      Home depot, lowes all have in the gardening section. You can also use a smaller pot, it works just as well.

  • Donna
    on Jul 11, 2016

    What do you use at the bottom of the pot? Is it al just tin foil or do use earth at the bottom of the pot? Great idea, definitely going to try it.

  • Lynn Seda
    on Jul 11, 2016

    Will aluminum foil work?

  • Peg Hutnik
    on Jul 11, 2016

    Question: Were you using coal or charcoal?

    • Sue
      on Jul 11, 2016

      Looks like charcoal to me. I'm pretty sure that's what she was using.

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Jul 12, 2016

      I was using charcoal in the post, but I actually like it much better when I use wood.

  • Audrey
    on Jul 11, 2016

    Didn't the heat crack the pot?

    • Barb in Texas
      on Jul 11, 2016

      She states she does this often, so no. Plus, you can make your own tandoori cooker (very high heat cooking) out of plain terra cotta pots. Alton Brown has instructions on his web site.

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Jul 12, 2016

      No it doesn't!

    • Bie7523315
      on Jul 25, 2016

      Terra Cotta pots are fired at 1200-1400 degrees, porcelain is fired up to 1600 or maybe 1800. The fire isn't going to get hotter than a firing kiln. So it should be good.

    • Mrs P
      on Aug 5, 2016

      I saw this on DIY it exploded on them on TV., even cement will explode that's why the heat and flames have to be at least a foot away. We did a fire pit with cement pavers years ago, the fire got pretty big one time pavers started exploding., switched to huge rocks., when we had bomb fires even the rocks crack., point being their has to be a lot of air and space around the fire itself., I got a huge tractor trailer rim for center of pit to keep the logs and fire away from walls., 10 years no problem since. Even thou it's showing using aluminum foil I wouldn't trust it. Years ago I had one of those small round charcoal grill that sat on the ground, had that for years worked great for a little fire., has a lid. Cheap $30.00., had 3 chimneys fire places., still have one., it's in the garden. It's a cool idea., I wouldn't trust it from experience., Just saying be careful !!!!

  • Jean Strickler
    on Jul 12, 2016

    Where did you set the pot (surface type)? Because of heat produced, what surface type should I use?

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Jul 13, 2016

      It works great on a stone or dirt surface. If you want to put it on a deck I would recommend putter a paver down first.

  • Yoli
    on Jul 26, 2016

    Can you use wood instead of charcoal

  • Sue
    on Jan 12, 2017

    Is burning the aluminum harmful to your health and the environment?

    • DW
      on Jan 12, 2017

      no more than putting using foil in your oven to cook with.. and the heat rises, so the foil really doesn't get that hot, the sand will pull the heat down. but you will have to replace it every time. it deteriorates from the hot coals...

    • Pamela Estrada
      on Jan 12, 2017

      The foil does not burn it is there to hold the ashes from the charcoal or wood you use in it. No different than putting foil on you grill when doing meat or veg on the grill.

    • Donna
      on Jan 12, 2017

      WHAT sand?? I didn't see that in the pictures...

    • Toni
      on Jan 13, 2017

      You should have a metal screen inside the clay fire pit you bought. Keeps hot coals from sitting on the bottom.

    • DW
      on Jan 13, 2017

      Sorry thought the put a layer of sand in first, then the tinfoil..I would...

  • Pete Smith
    on Jan 12, 2017

    What kind of pot? Wouldn't the heat crack and ceramic or clay pot?

    • DW
      on Jan 12, 2017

      nope, it's not getting that hot. you can actually make a heater with tea candles and 2 clay pots. of course if you get the heat up to 500deg or more it might crack the pot..i wouldn't use a ceramic one, i would use the unglazed clay pots...

    • Marget Breckner Lippincott
      on Jan 12, 2017

      Use stoneware and the firing heat to make it, is way, way hotter thana small wood fire,

  • Mary
    on Jan 13, 2017

    This past fall I bought a large clay fire pit, that came with the metal surround that has legs to keep the bowl off the ground, and where you sit the clay bowl into, and it also came with a top screen to prevent ashes from flying away. After buying it, I thought about how the clay pot might break with a fire in it. I can't find any info in the internet about clay fire pit bowls. What can you tell me what to do and not do using a clay fire pit bowl? I would be using sticks and cut up wood to burn. Oh.. there is no holes in my clay fire bowl. Thank you and any others who may help me.

    • Sharon Missler
      on Jan 13, 2017

      Try looking at You Tube videos for chimineas. It's not quite what you have, but there are several videos that detail how to season the clay with small fires so that it does not crack when you eventually make larger fires.

    • Mary
      on Jan 13, 2017

      Off to You Tube I go. I've seen chimineas but did not realize that some were made out of clay. I have a HUGE Basswood tree that drops dead branches all year long and some of them are big in diameter size. I bought this fire pit because it was on sale for $40 and it's quite large, and beautiful, and I figured that I could cut up the branches and burn them in this fire pit. Thank you for helping me out... I appreciate it! I never would have thought to season it.

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Jan 15, 2017

      Hey I place mine on an old paver stone and not directly on the ground but hat's it. We have a nearby hose, but have never had any issues.

    • Mary
      on Jan 15, 2017

      Shawna... does your clay fire bowl have any holes in it? The one I bought does not. How big are the fires you make/or rather do you put log size wood into the bowl? Thanks for the hose tip... I will have one close by just in case!

  • Chandra
    on Feb 2, 2017

    What else can u put instead of foil...awesome idea

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Feb 5, 2017

      Small metal plates?

    • Barbara davis
      on Apr 30, 2018

      I put sand in the bottom of my containers that we build a fire in. It insulates the pot so it doesn't become brittle when you move it. I cover the drainage hole with a couple of coffee filters. These let's the water pass through when it rains. I love the idea of a small fire pit for two.

    • Chandra
      on May 1, 2018

      Thank u very much👏

  • Theresa
    on Feb 17, 2017

    Can the pot crack or explode from the heat?

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Feb 22, 2017

      It hasn't

    • Hot24974352
      on Jun 11, 2017

      due to air bubbles in the hardened clay, yes!
      unles you are outfitting everyone in safety gear, do the smart thing and use fire brick that is made for this
      please dont make the news
    • Dana
      on Apr 30, 2018

      Yes it can. It’s not fire bricks. Concrete and terracotta can shatter and cause injuries. I would suggest looking something metal, steel..

    • Con24693932
      on Apr 30, 2018

      mine cracked was so upset, those pots are not cheap, I use an old wash tub now,

    • Rebecca Foster-Noble
      on Apr 30, 2018

      I would love to see your washing machine one :)

    • Bridget
      on Apr 30, 2018

      I wonder if soaking the terra cotta pot in water and then using and not cooking the marshmallows until the coals have burned down.

    • Susan
      on Apr 30, 2018

      If wet, they will crack or break

    • Susan
      on Apr 30, 2018

      If wet, they will crack or break

    • Susan
      on Apr 30, 2018

      If wet, they will crack or break;?use an old pot lid to smother

    • Great idea Theresa but as mentioned by several others those pots aren't made for burning wood or charcoal and can get so hot they explode possibly seriously hurting someone. There are other pot sized things that could be used made from heat resistant materials. Better safe then sorry....

    • Pamela Phillips Cook
      on Nov 25, 2019

      Yes I was wondering if a wash tub could be used. I’d love to see a picture too. Does the fire eventually burn through?

  • Susan Proctor
    on Mar 11, 2017

    I have a screen enclosed patio with an aluminum cover. Could I make some kind of fire pit without making the white top black?

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Mar 20, 2017

      I've only ever used this on my open patio, maybe someone else can answer this?

    • Jackie Vassey
      on Apr 30, 2018

      I wouldn’t use it under a porch. Not very safe.

    • Bridget
      on Apr 30, 2018

      maybe something this low, but not wood where the flame would get high. You could always ask your handy fire dept.

    • Rwd24867546
      on Apr 30, 2018

      Use a sterno can instead of the coals or sticks

    • NancyMaria
      on Apr 30, 2018

      Be sure to have lots of ventilation and a fire extinguisher close to hand.

    • Grumpy
      on May 1, 2018

      What ever you light will smoke and turn the ceiling black no matter what. I have used both charcoal and wood to build them. I have built many fires camping and I use a tarp over the pit to keep my fire going in the rain. Yes it has melted in places and turned very black. It could ruin the paint job on the roofs outer side too with the heat, even if not close. Heat rises.

  • Patti
    on Apr 30, 2018

    Does the bottom of the pot get hot. I have a small wooden deck and something like this would be perfect. Just afraid it would put burn marks on the deck.

    • Bonnie S
      on Apr 30, 2018

      I would set the pot on a short metal pot holder. Have seen some simple ones lately about 7 in high. Any kind of metal ring to get it off the wood. Yes it would get hot like a grill

    • Ecf2651461
      on Apr 30, 2018

      Or- a cement stepping stone or patio brick....


    • NancyMaria
      on Apr 30, 2018

      What ever you set the bowl on to keep it off the wood, PLEASE make sure it is stable and won't fall off. Would be a shame to end the party with burning down the porch.

    • Patti
      on May 1, 2018

      Thank You so Much don't know why I didn't think like that.

    • Patti
      on May 1, 2018

      Yes don't know where my head is today. Thanks

    • Grumpy
      on May 1, 2018

      I wouldn't set anything with fire in it on any wood, especially if attached to your house. Can you build a small patio with cement to use in your yard to be safer. My husband it a fireman and he goes to many calls like this. wanted a fire, but it got hot, deck started on fire. They tried to put it out and no house wall of siding left. Luck house didn't go up in flames they are.

      For a small patio, look for someone that is a retired mason. They may do the job cheap and you get something safe to set pit on.

    • Patti
      on May 1, 2018

      Thank You. I just might consider the burn pits all around the private Camp Ground where I live. In the summer there going all over. Someone always taking care of them and I don't have to worry about anything. Because my deck is rather small. It's on a mobile home. Again thank you. Have a Happy Day.

    • Adina Fulsom
      on May 2, 2018

      Buy a few cement tiles sold in garden supply area of Walmart (or other big box stores) and make your own mini patio area whatever size you want. Four 16" tiles would give you a 32" X 32" square mini patio.

    • Patti
      on May 2, 2018

      Sounds good but I rent not sure if the landlord would approve. Because we do have burn pits all around the campground where I live. They have them going all summer unless we have a burn ban. There there for everyone to use. And someone is always tending to them.

    • Jill Gomes Good
      on May 5, 2018

      Please don’t use this pot idea. Even though it looks great, the pot can get so hot it will crack & possibly send chips of it flying. If you have an old metal or cast iron pot that would be ideal.

    • Patti
      on May 7, 2018

      Thanks Jill. I like the idea of the fire pit. But it does sound a bit dangerous. So like I posted before there are fire pits going here all summer. Just jump from one to the other. Get to see all the neighbors that don't live here year round. And oh yeah there's always amazing food. Have a Happy Day.

    • Patti
      on May 7, 2018

      Thanks Jill. I like the idea of the fire pit. But it does sound a bit dangerous. So like I posted before there are fire pits going here all summer. Just jump from one to the other. Get to see all the neighbors that don't live here year round. And oh yeah there's always amazing food. Have a Happy Day.

    • Patti
      on May 7, 2018

      Thanks Jill. I like the idea of the fire pit. But it does sound a bit dangerous. So like I posted before there are fire pits going here all summer. Just jump from one to the other. Get to see all the neighbors that don't live here year round. And oh yeah there's always amazing food. Have a Happy Day.

    • Patti
      on May 7, 2018

      Thanks Jill. I like the idea of the fire pit. But it does sound a bit dangerous. So like I posted before there are fire pits going here all summer. Just jump from one to the other. Get to see all the neighbors that don't live here year round. And oh yeah there's always amazing food. Have a Happy Day.

    • Patti
      on May 7, 2018

      Thanks Jill. I like the idea of the fire pit. But it does sound a bit dangerous. So like I posted before there are fire pits going here all summer. Just jump from one to the other. Get to see all the neighbors that don't live here year round. And oh yeah there's always amazing food. Have a Happy Day.

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