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How to Select the Right Fire Pit Media for Your Design

Once you’ve settled on all the basics for your gas fire pit or fire table, it’s time to have a little fun. Fire media is the finishing touch, and you have a number of options.

Fire media is the name given to the non-combustible material that is spread over the burner. It not only hides the pan and the burner, but it also adds a decisive design element to your piece so you’ll want to give it some thought. 

We’ll explore the pros and cons of all five types—fire glass, lava rock, fire shapes, fire stones, and gas logs.

Fire Glass Is a Modern Touch for Your Fire Pit

Fire glass is made using tempered glass so it can tolerate high heat. It radiates warmth and helps disperse the gas for a more natural-looking flame. However, you have to be careful not to spread it too thick–no more than one inch over the burner. A half-inch is even better. You want just enough to hide the burner, but not so much that it smothers the flame.

CELESTIAL FIRE GLASS has 25 different fire glass products to choose from and one of the widest selections of colors.

Fire glass comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Fire glass beads and diamonds are smooth and rounded. They are uniform pieces of glass without a reflective coating.

The far more popular choice is classic fire glass with its jewel-like appearance and raw edges. Our fire glass undergoes a unique process to soften the edges a bit without dulling the shine. 

The reflective coating and live edges on classic fire glass transform your fire feature into a glamorous centerpiece or modern wonder. Watching the flames dance over the twinkling glass can be quite hypnotic. There are so many colors though, you may find it hard to choose. Use our guide to assist you. 

To keep your glass looking its best, it’s a good idea to clean it once a year. It’s easy and you likely have everything you need on hand.

Lava Rock Is a Natural Choice

The lava rock is on the other end of the spectrum from fire glass. Lava is naturally occurring, and the dark, earthy color and rough texture will give your fire pit a rustic, natural feel. It’s perfect for settings that feel more rugged or if you like a more subdued look.

Its porous nature allows the gas to circulate more freely than some other forms of fire media, but you will need to be careful not to get it wet. Lava rocks can hold moisture. If lit when holding any moisture, the intensity of the heat can cause the rocks to expand and then explode. An easy way to keep them dry is with a stainless-steel burner pan cover.

LAVA ROCK in the U.S. does not typically come from Hawaii as you might expect. Most of it is mined from ancient volcanoes in states such as New Mexico and Utah.

Lava rocks come in small sizes that can be used as a base layer for other fire media such as gas rocks or logs. Think of it as the background for a painting. It’s seen, but it’s not the focal point. 

The larger sizes of lava rock can stand alone in the fire pit or be used as filler. People with large fire pits sometimes use lava rock to fill the void because it’s inexpensive, and then top it with fire glass. In this instance, the lava rock is meant to be completely covered and unseen. 

But even though it’s unseen, it can still get wet and potentially explode. Therefore, it’s vitally important to keep your fire pit covered so that you don’t potentially send rocks and glass flying into the surrounding area.

Fire Shapes and Fire Stones Give More Options

Fire shapes and stones are made of specialty, heat-resistant ceramic. The stones are made to look like river rock, perfect for natural settings or for a Zen-like, spa feel.  They will not absorb water as real rocks do, but it’s still important to keep the surrounding area dry.

The shapes come in a ball and geometric forms. This style definitely gives off a modern vibe. The shapes can be arranged in various ways to create unique designs. Plus, placing them on top of each other has the added benefit of making the flames feel fuller.

Typically, you will need a 1-inch layer of small lava rock to serve as the base before placing your rocks. Be sure to consult the instructions.

Gas Logs Have a Realistic Look

Gas logs can be made from a unique ceramic or cement composite. Logs made from refractory ceramic are more expensive. However, they radiate more heat, last longer, and tend to look more realistic.

Log sets made for fire pits are designed to look good from all sides, as opposed to some fireplace sets which are only designed to be viewed from one side.

GAS LOGS are more realistic looking than ever thanks to the use of real wood to create the log molds. High-heat paint helps complete the look.

Keep in mind, there are two types of logs. Vented logs must be used with ventilation—outdoors or in a fireplace with an operational chimney. These present the most authentic flame but do not put out as much heat.

Ventless logs are designed to be used in ventless fireplaces. The flame is not as realistic, but these logs radiate more heat. 

Using a base layer of small lava rock under the logs suggests the feeling of burned embers, as well as retaining heat.

Note:  Keep in mind that light-colored fire shapes and gas logs tend to accumulate soot near the flames. This is less noticeable if you select a darker color.

Safety Tips

  1. Always consult the manufacturer’s instructions before placing your fire media. Oxygen is vital to combustion. If fire media is used incorrectly, it can cause a build-up of gas.
  2. Never light the fire pit when the fire media is wet or holding moisture. Water expands when heated and can cause an explosion resulting in personal injury or property damage.
  3. Use a burner cover or all-over fire pit cover to protect fire media from moisture and debris.
  4. Never use fire media in a wood fire.
  5. If using gas logs in your fire pit, have them serviced once a year by a professional.

Design Dictates Decision

When you get down to it, the decision isn’t that hard. If you are going for a dramatic, modern design—something that will mesmerize your guests—the answer is classic fire glass. It has the ability to transform your outdoor setting into something dazzling.

If you’re seeking a natural feel, you have several choices. Lava rock is inexpensive, and its dark colors and porous texture provide a neutral background for the flames. 

If you want the “I just set this up in the middle of the woods” look, go with gas logs or fire rocks. 

In contrast, fire shapes will feel modern in every way. You won’t find these sleek shapes laying around the woods. Combine different forms to create your own abstract designs.

Once you’ve determined what style you’re going for, picking the right media will be a breeze.

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