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I'm trying to build a fire ring in my yard. My thought is that for the base I will get a run-of-the-mill fire pit insert (maybe something simple, like this). My plan is to dig a hole about half its height deep, place the insert, fill with sand and gravel (lava rock?) to ground level, and possibly place brick around the outside.

  • I would like to have the brick cemented in place, is there a particular form of mortar or concrete which would be well suited to higher temperatures?
  • If I do not put brick around the outside, what else should I do to make sure the insert does not move?
  • Will bricks make it easier to remove ash?
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The ring won't move, really. The bricks would be more for aesthetics than anything. I wouldn't use mortar. It will be outside and constantly subject to warming and cooling cycles...not to mention water. Instead go with a dry stack brick (or, what I did, retaining wall blocks...they're a bit more substantial and stay in place).

As for ash removal, there's no real need to do that. But when you do need to do that, all you need is a shovel. What the ring is made of is really of no consequence in that regard.

I would spend the time to put in a proper crushed gravel base for the block work, though. A few inches of crushed rock tamped down well will give you a nice foundation for the block work.

FYI, Lowes/Home Depot usually sell a nice fire-ring kit. It will include the ring and blocks to surround it.

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The long and the short:

  • Lava rock vs. gravel isn't important except aesthetically.
  • Use mortar not concrete for binding (in general). All mortar is heat resistant, but you can look for mortar which includes fire clay or get information about mixing your own here (experience suggests that this step is strictly optional, but I will be doing that anyway).
  • It seems that there are two types of ground level fire pits – ones which rely on temporary insert which is somehow staked down, and ones which are actually built into the ground.

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