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5 surprising ways to use your firepit

From driving away bugs to grilling and growing better gardens, there are plenty of interesting uses for firepits.

Firepits are more versatile than you might think.

Brian Bennett/CNET

Firepits are a great way to relax outdoors, but you can use them for much more than just gazing at their soothing flames. From cooking delicious food to chasing away mosquitoes and making natural fertilizer, firepits have all kinds of different backyard applications. 

This guide will walk you through the biggest examples, many you may have never considered. If you're looking for new reasons to light up a safe, satisfying bonfire you've come to the right place.  

Repel mosquitoes

Pest control probably isn't the first topic that comes to mind when you think of firepits. That said, they can be a powerful tool for warding off one of the most unwelcome outdoor visitors, mosquitoes. Burning herbs happens to be an age-old technique for keeping the biting insects at bay.

Research now confirms that burning popular seasoning plants, specifically thyme, is particularly effective. One field study found that directly burning thyme leaves provides 85% to 89% protection from mosquitoes for up to 90 minutes. The next time the bugs are out in force, throw a few sprigs on the fire.

You can convert Breeo firepits into serious outdoor cooking machines.


Cook over it

It may be obvious to barbecue lovers, but cooking food over a wood fire usually leads to delicious results. Chicken, fish and all kinds of red meat benefit from time spent over hot coals. A firepit is no different. Two big names in the smokeless firepit business already acknowledge this. 

Breeo sells its Outpost Grill kit that can function as a stand-alone campfire grill. You can also attach it to one of the company's firepits. 

Firepit maker Solo Stove takes a different approach. You can certainly MacGyver any Solo Stove firepit into a cooking device. However, the outfit now offers a product specially designed for that purpose. The Solo Stove Grill burns either chunks of hardwood or charcoal. It also uses a high-convection airflow system that the company says burns less fuel than conventional charcoal grills.    

Consider taking your firepit on your next camping trip.

Solo Stove

Take it camping

Next time you go camping with your car or truck consider bringing along a portable firepit. There are pits built for travel in mind like the lightweight Solo Stove Rangerand collapsible Pop-Up Fire Pit. Some adventurous campers even bring their big Breeo X Series pits into the woods.

No matter which brand you choose, the upside to using your own pit in the wild is big. It's always at the ready. You also don't need to rely on the condition, or lack thereof, of your particular campsite.  

The Swedish torch method is a great way to stay warm outside when the weather is cold.

Brian Bennett/CNET

Make a Swedish torch

Deep in the heart of winter it's a tough sell to spend quality time outdoors. Change that logic by lighting up a Swedish torch. This traditional fire building technique calls for stacking wood vertically inside your pit. It burns from the top down and from the center outwards. 

These conditions create a fire that produces a lot more heat than standard firepits. Since you add all the wood you can in the beginning, your pit will burn for quite a while with minimal intervention.

Reuse the ashes

When the fire has burned out and the pit has cooled, you may be tempted to dump the remnants in the trash. Think again, because firepit ash is an excellent fertilizer.  

Packed with potassium and other trace elements, a sprinkle of wood ash is a boon to plant health. Studies have shown that application of wood ash to soil aided plant growth and resistance to drought conditions. It only takes a little though. The experiments used a low ratio of 1 percent ash to soil. For a typical 10-inch diameter (2.5 to 3 gallons) garden pot you'd need just under half an ounce of ash (0.46 ounce).