When it comes to shopping around for a new bowl fire pit or brazier, you have a range of considerations to keep in mind, but perhaps the most important choice you will make is what material your fire pit bowl will be made from. Fire pit bowls can be made from a wide range of materials, from versatile concretes to heat-resistant ceramics or beautiful natural stones. However, if you're looking for a bowl that mixes tremendous durability with great versatility, you can't go far wrong with metal.
That said, no two types of metal are ever quite the same, and if you do opt for a metal bowl, you should consider the advantages and disadvantages of each of your metal choices. Some of the most popular and useful metals are listed below:
A metal prized in the roofing business for its excellent weather resistant properties, copper naturally makes an excellent choice for an outdoor fire pit bowl. In addition, it is also an excellent conductor of heat, creating a radiant area of warmth around your fire bowl for cooler winter nights. Because copper oxidises but does not corrode in the presence of moisture, it is very low maintenance, and its smooth surface is easily cleaned and buffed to a mirror sheen -- alternatively, you can let the natural patina of copper oxide remain for a more rustic look.
Copper is also very malleable, allowing fire pit bowl manufacturers and craftsmen to create a variety of interesting shapes and designs. Unfortunately, this also means that a copper bowl is dented easily, and copper will not stand up to nearly as much physical punishment as most other metal choices. Copper is also an expensive material, and its value as scrap metal may lead to an exposed copper bowl being targeted by thieves.
Steel is a tremendously strong metal that will shrug off all but the most catastrophic accidents and is also amongst the most affordable options on the fire bowl market. However, the great strength of steel is its versatility -- steel takes well to a variety of attractive and durable finishes that can compliment almost any garden aesthetic:
- Heat-resistant paints -- Economical and available in a wide variety of colours, heat resistant paints will need to be reapplied periodically, but this is cheap and easy to do yourself.
- Powder-coated steel -- These special coatings are made from a heat-cured powder rather than a conventional liquid paint, and form an extremely durable 'skin' on the steel's surface. This coating can stand up to a tremendous amount of abuse from fires and the elements, but is more expensive and difficult to renew when it does begin to perish.
- Acid-treated steel -- Instead of protecting your bowl from rust, acid treatments actually promote it, leaving behind a rich, rusty patina that complements many garden design choices, especially rustic and Mediterranean themes. This coating does not penetrate deep into the steel, but it does shorten the lifespan of your bowl somewhat.
Unfortunately, steel bowls will eventually fall victim to rust, however judiciously maintained they may be. Steel is also heavy, and installing a large steel fire pit bowl in your garden can be difficult without professional assistance (although it does make them much more difficult to steal).
This steel-chromium alloy has all the desirable properties of ordinary steel, combined with virtual immunity to corrosion caused by exposure to air and moisture. This allows stainless steel to be left unfinished, and it can be burnished to a striking mirror gloss -- however, it will take paints and powder coatings well if you desire them for aesthetic choices.
This improvement over regular steel does not come cheap, however, and you should expect to pay significantly higher prices for stainless steel bowls. In addition, while stainless steel does not rust, it can be vulnerable to unsightly staining without occasional cleaning, particularly in coastal areas with high levels of airborne salt.