Can You Use Lava Rocks in a Wood Burning Fire Pit?

  • By: Mike Hale
  • Date: July 17, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Sitting in front of a fire pit is a great way to stay warm during cold nights. There are many materials that you can use in your fire pit. You can use firewood, gas, and all sorts of other combustible materials. But can you use lava rocks in a wood-burning fire pit?

Lava rocks are great for fire pits. Even if you are planning to burn firewood or use gas, it is still advisable to line the pit with a layer of this material. It not only serves as protection for the pit from the elements but also effectively dissipates the heat and makes the area appear nicer.

Adding a fire pit in your yard is a great choice because it adds value and beauty to your property. To make the most of your fire pit, you need to know how to use lava rocks effectively and safely in it. These rocks not only make the area aesthetically pleasing, but it also serves many functions. Let’s learn how to use lava rocks in your fire pit.

Can you use lava rocks in a wood burning fire pit?

Lava rocks are an exceptional choice when it comes to protecting wood burning fire pits. They provide a semipermeable barrier that is perfect for protecting the pit itself from the elements.

It also makes the heat distribution more even. Uneven heating is bad for fire pits because it can cause their surface to develop cracks. By using a thick layer of lava rocks underneath the firewood, your pit will be protected from developing excessively hot spots.

Can you use Lava rocks in a wood burning fire pit

Lava rocks also protect the gas burners if your pit uses that. The surface flame is blocked by the lava rocks and shields the burner from the excessive heat that can cause it to warp or break.

Besides the functional benefits, lava rocks also make the pit more visually appealing. They provide a clean, natural-looking surface where you can pile on your firewood. The rocks retain their natural colors even when subjected to heat and harsh weather conditions.

They are also more durable and more affordable than any other material you can use as a protective lining for your pits. You can easily replace lava rocks if needed because they are very cheap.

How to Use Lava Rocks for a Wood Burning Fire Pit

The first step is to construct your fire pit in a well-ventilated place in your yard. Check your city’s particular ordinance related to the construction of backyard fire pits to make sure that you understand the requirements. You can call your local fire department to get this information.

Place the pit in an area that will allow it to drain so the bowl fill will not get flooded with water quickly. This is another reason why lava rocks are great for lining your fire pit. The porous quality of the material prevents it from retaining water.

Place a thick layer of lava rock in the bowl or pit. The rocks should reach about 5 inches from the pit’s very lip. Once you have laid down the protective layer, you can place your burning wood on top.

Never use river rocks, sandstone, gravel, or natural rocks in place of lava rocks. These materials are not meant to be exposed to high heat and might explode when heated. If you do not have lava rocks, look for alternatives with the same properties, like lava glass beads.

Note that even the lava rocks can explode if it still contains moisture when heated. The trapped water in the pores will expand quickly and cause the rocks to shatter. That is why it is crucial to design the fire pit so that rainwater quickly drains out.

Nevertheless, do not forget to exercise caution in starting a fire right after it rains. If possible, wait until you are sure that the rocks are fully dried before starting a fire.

Another thing to remember is that even with a protective layer of lava rock in place, your fire pit may still develop tiny cracks due to the repeated cooling and heating. These unsightly cracks will not cause your fire pit to break if it is constructed according to code.

To minimize the chances of developing these hairline cracks, it is best to use firewood that is not too big. Chop the large pieces of hot wood if necessary. Too much heat from large chunks of firewood will cause cracks to form on the pit’s concrete surface.

If your lava rocks are looking a little too dirty, you can easily clean them. Dump the rocks in a bucket and pour water over everything. If you wish, you can also add some mild liquid soap to the water. Allow the rocks to soak in this mixture for a few minutes.

The liquid will dislodge any debris or dust buildup in the pores of the lava rock. Rinse the rocks and lay them on a flat surface. Allow the rocks to dry out before replacing them in the fire pit completely.

Lava rocks are easy to care for. As long as you keep your fire pit covered when not in use, you will only need to clean the rocks deep once or twice a year. They also do not easily decompose or disintegrate.

What do you put in the bottom of a wood burning fire pit?

After looking at the different benefits of lining a fire pit with lava rocks, you know that this is the right choice for keeping this backyard addition looking nice and working safely. Instead of simply lining the bottom of the fire pit with concrete, you can opt to lay a thick layer of grey, black, or brown lava rocks at the bottom of the structure.

This will make the fire pit look cleaner and neater. It will also ensure even distribution of heat within the pit. By choosing this particular filler, you can gather around the heat source safely during cold nights.