Fire glass is a special type of decorative glass that’s added to outdoor gas fire pits and fireplaces to enhance their beauty.
- In a gas fire pit, fire glass conveniently keeps the burner out of sight; only the decorative glass remains visible. When the gas is ignited, it gives the appearance that the fire is dancing across the bed of glass. It’s truly mesmerizing!
- In a gas fireplace, depending on its design, fire glass can be used as a bed under the artificial logs. Or, with the proper burner type, it can be used to hide the burner from view and give that same appearance of flames flickering across the glass.
What is fire glass used for? Primarily to lend radiant color and texture to even the most humdrum fire feature. Depending on the type of fire glass used, it can also provide a captivating dash of shimmer as the light of the flames reflects off the glass pieces. What’s more, high-quality fire glass makes a fire feature look good even when it’s notbeing used. It creates a stylish and inviting appearance no matter the time of day — or whether there’s a fire blazing or not.
The vivid color and reflective properties of fire glass make it stand apart from traditional media like wood, lava rocks, and ceramic fire balls. While these types of media typically come in earthy shades like brown, beige, and black, fire glass is available in a mind-blowing array of colors — from deep royal blue to ruby red to everything in between.
So, the next time someone asks you, “What is fire pit glass?” you’ll have the answer!
What Is Fire Glass Made Of?
Fire glass is made, very simply, of colored glass. This coloring is achieved by adding metal oxides or metal powders to the glass in order to change its shade. For example, to make blue fire glass, cobalt oxide is added to the molten glass to give it a cobalt-blue tint.
Other than added metal oxides or powders, fire glass is completely inert. This means it does not contain any combustibles, finishes, or additives that will be negatively affected by the heat and flame in a fire pit. In fact, fire glass is specifically manufactured to withstand the searing-hot temperatures of a fire feature. It will not burn or discolor when used in fire pits and fireplaces.
Can’t Regular Glass Be Used in a Fire Feature?
Absolutely not! Placing regular glass in a fire is a recipe for disaster, since it will either blacken and melt, or crack and pop, sending out sharp shards. Conventional glass with special coatings on it may produce highly toxic and unpleasant fumes when burned. If you’re looking to jazz up your outdoor fire pit or fireplace with color and shine, it’s extremely important to go with a glass that’s designed specifically for that purpose.
Is Fire Glass Safe?
Yes, it is. Because fire glass is onlymade of glass, with no chemical additives or plastics, it doesn’t create any toxic fumes or smoke. This makes fire glass a sensible, clean-burning choice for use at home around your family, friends and pets. You don’t have to worry about polluting the air as you do when you’re burning wood and other combustibles. This is great news for your household — and for the environment, too.
Fire glass is so safe, in fact, that you don’t even need to use a screen as you do with a traditional fireplace. This is because fire glass is designed exclusively for use in fire. It won’t crackle and pop or spray red-hot cinders to where you’re sitting. Without a screen or doors in the way, you get a full and unobstructed view of the light show. (Of course, if you have very young children or nosy animals in your home, you may choose to use a screen anyway as an added measure of safety.)
Lastly, while the phrase “fire glass” may conjure up images of dangerously jagged pieces, put your worries to rest. Most fire glass is processed to eliminate sharp edges that can cause injury.
How Does Fire Glass Work?
It all boils down to science! Fire glass acts as a permeablefiller for gas fire pits and fireplaces. This means that when it’s placed over a gas burner, fire glass allows the gas to pass through it and fuel a flame on the surface of the glass.
With natural gas, the gas is lighter than air, so it easily rises to the surface of the glass. Propane gas is heavier than air, so it requires the gas to be dispersed close to, and in the direction of, the surface of the glass. With gas fueling them from below, flames will dance on the bed of fire glass and appear as if they’re rising directly from the glass. It makes for quite a beautiful display!
Popular Styles of Fire Glass
Although many people think of tempered glass when they hear the phrase “fire glass,” there are actually many different types of fire glass on the market today. This fire pit media comes in a dazzling array of shapes, sizes, colors and finishes — and product quality can vary greatly across brands. Let’s take a look at the most popular styles below.
- Tempered fire glass is made from ultra-strong tempered glass. This fire glass type may have a reflective finish on one side, which adds a shimmery look to the pieces. Color is achieved in tempered fire glass using one of two methods. The glass itself may have color in it, or the fire glass may have a colored reflective backing.
- Crushed fire glass is a gravel-like glass that comes in an array of colors and sizes. The random shapes and sizes coupled with the coloring of this fire glass make it a wonderful choice for adding vibrant color and texture to your fire feature. While crushed fire glass comes in several sizes, we recommend choosing the 1/2″ to 3/4″ size range.
- Fire glass diamonds are another variation of fire glass that offers both luster and larger, rounded glass pieces. The random, rounded shapes (typically 1″ in overall diameter) have a slight diamond look, but with a smooth surface and gently rounded edges. Fire glass diamonds are made from colored glass that can be either clear or opaque. Adding an iridized finish on the surface of the glass, along with the smooth surface, gives the glass a wet look — and this combined appearance of fire and water is absolutely breathtaking! Fire glass diamonds may also be found under the name of Zircon fire glass (American Fireglass).
- Fire beads are yet another type of fire glass. Often called “half-marbles” due to their flattened, rounded shape, fire beads offer much of the same rich color and luster as fire glass diamonds — but in smaller, rounded coin shapes. When used in crafting and home décor applications, fire beads go by the name of “glass gems.” They come in a wide range of colors, iridized finishes, and are typically 1/2″ to 3/4″ in diameter.
- Fire glass 2.0 is an exciting new style of fire glass recently introduced by American Fireglass. This type of glass has a decidedly modern look, with a flat cube shape in a high-luster finish. Fire Glass 2.0 comes in various colors in a 1/2″ size.
Does Fire Glass Burn?
A question we hear often is “Does fire glass burn?”
While a properly configured gas fire pit with fire glass makes it look like the glass is burning — in fact, the fire glass does not burn at all. Fire pit glass is specially manufactured to take the extreme heat of the flames without melting, breaking, or disintegrating. The illusion of the glass burning is the ultimate goal of the fire feature’s designer. Therefore, it’s important that the glass be properly placed over the gas burner to achieve this look.
Sometimes people mistake black soot deposited on fire glass as burnt glass. However, since fire glass cannot physically burn, the black discoloration is simply soot from gas that’s not combusting completely. If this happens to you, it could be because your burner is not properly configured for your fire pit.
To troubleshoot fire glass turning back, check out this article here.
After you fix the underlying problem, check out this article to learn how to clean your glass to a lustrous, like-new condition.
How Long Does Fire Glass Last?
The short answer is, quite a while! Since fire glass is heat resistant and does not melt, burn, or change color, it’s technically possible for it to last 20 years or more (wow!).
That said, in most cases, you can expect your new fire glass to last anywhere from 4 to 8 years. Exposure to sunlight will diminish the vivid color in fire glass over time, so the amount of sunlight your glass gets will influence its lifespan. For example, a dark-colored fire glass in the Arizona sun throughout the year will have a much shorter lifespan than fire glass with minimal sun exposure in northern New York.
Once you get your fire glass installed in your fire feature, you’ll want to keep it looking good for as long as possible. Here are a couple of pointers to extend the longevity of your glass:
- Keep your fire pit covered with a stainless steel cover. The downside to this is that you won’t be able to enjoy the beauty of your glass when it’s under cover (most people like to showcase their colorful fire feature day and night).
- Turn over your fire glass once or twice a year to make it last longer. This involves moving glass untouched by the sun to the surface of the bed, where it adds fresh color.
Since it produces no soot or ashes, fire glass requires minimal upkeep. But like any decorative object, the glass can collect dust and dirt over time. Luckily, it’s fast, easy and inexpensive to give your fire glass a like-new cleaning right at home. Here’s how to do it.
How Much Fire Glass Is Needed for a Fire Feature?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The amount of fire glass you need depends on the type of fire feature you have (that is, fire pit or fireplace) and the size and style of it. If you buy too little glass, you won’t have enough coverage (or shimmer). But if you buy too much, you’ll have wasted your money.
Companies like Starfire Direct, Blazing Glass, American Fireglass, and Celestial Fire Glass have calculators on their websites to help customers determine exactly how much glass is needed to fill their fire pit or fireplace. Try this fire glass calculator.
How to Use Fire Glass in Other Fun Ways
When considering the question “What is fire glass?” it’s important to note that fire glass is used as more than just filler for gas fire pits and fireplaces. The beautiful, reflective look of this glass inspires people to use it in other interesting ways!
- Glass artists are having a wonderful time integrating fire glass into their glass art. Visit the Celestial Fire Glass Instagram page to see some amazing photos!
- Fire glass is popular for use in home décor as a decorative accent and vase filler. It’s also used in aquariums and in mosaic countertops. When it comes to fire glass, the sky’s the limit. If you’re creative, you can probably come up with a dozen more captivating ways to use this sparkling colored media.
- Crushed fire glass is often used in landscapes and water features due to its natural, gravel-like shape. It’s an imaginative way to add color to an outdoor space. Note: We do not recommend using tempered fire glass in landscapes, as there are some sharp edges to the glass pieces. This can pose a danger to people, particularly young children and pets.
What Colors of Fire Glass Are in Style?
Choosing a type and color of fire glass for your fire feature is as personal as choosing paint colors for your home. These are important decisions that require time and careful thought. It all depends on your personal tastes, your outdoor décor, and what kind of mood you want your fire feature to evoke. For example:
- Warm colors like orange, red, and yellow tend to feel cozy and comfortable.
- Cool colors like green, blue, and purple can spark feelings of calm and serenity.
- Bold, bright colors like a rich meridian blue can give off a sense of passion and power.
- Gold, clear, and silver shades create an air of luxury and elegance.
While some people prefer their fire feature to have one solid color, many choose to mix three or more shades to create a truly custom look. You can also have a bit of fun and create a fire glass color palette for each of the four seasons! Simply store your off-season fire glass in a sturdy container until it’s time to use again. For example, Celestial Fire Glass packages its fire glass in sturdy plastic jugs instead of plastic bags, which provides a convenient storage solution.
If you’ve arrived on this page wondering “What is fire glass?” we hope we’ve answered your question. Now that you know all about this lustrous fire pit media, you’re ready to transform your own fire feature from ordinary to extraordinary!