Introduction: Sand Fire Garden

Picture of Sand Fire Garden

So many people have hung out with the warmth and played in the sand of my wonderful Fire Gardens have asked me how they could make one of their own.
This instructable will walk you though the basics of building your very own Zen Fire Garden.

I’ve taken the guess work out of all the fittings and sizes and put together a few kits that I use all the time in my work. You will need to find or make your own container, and build a stand or a base.

Step 1: Plumbing Parts

Picture of Plumbing Parts

You will needs some basic off the shelf parts to make a fire pit:

1) Regulator/hose 30 PSI (not a BBQ regulator) and a needle valve to adjust the flame size. I use brass 3/8 45deg flair fitting for the hose ends and the attachment at the fire pit.
2) Fire ring. This is the distribution system that is below the sand for your gas. If you have the ability to weld and make rings you can make your own using a 1/2 weldable (not cast iron) coupler in the center,  5/8 thin wall tubing and drilling 3/32 holes every 1 1/2". The ring should 1/2 - 1/3 the size of your container diameter.
Stainless steel will prolong the life of the ring especially during the winter when you forget to cover your pit in the first rain.
3) Fittings. A 1/2 NPT coupler (weldable), Brass1/2 to 3/8 45 deg flare (for attaching the hose to)(not used in this build), brass 1/2 NPT nipple (to attach the the ring to the coupler welded to the container)(not used in this build), brass1/2 NPT lock nut
4) BBQ sized propane tank.

I've put together an affordable kit of the basic plumbing supplies you'll need to build your own fire pit.
I offer several sizes of rings, stainless upgrades and fully auto systems for high end remote controlled fire pits.
Fire Pit Kit link

I now offer a new bulk head coupler that works in materials upto 1" thick. No welding required! see the last 2 photos on this page

Step 2: Container for the Fire Pit

Picture of Container for the Fire Pit

With a little searching though your local hardware store, garden center, junkyard or restaurant supply you can find great ready made vessels to build your own custom fire garden in.

In addition to the plumbing parts you will need a container that isable to handle high temperatures and be fully sealed underneath (leaks or drain holes will also allow gas out and fire where you don't want it). The bottom 6-8" of a 55 gal drum works good. I have also used a wok, Stainless Salad bowl, or dog bowls. Stay away from painted steel, aluminum, and galvanized steel as these will release fumes or melt. The weldable coupler  can be welded though the bottom, I also sell a bolt on coupler, or a lock nut (see step 4).
I have seen people make these in cement, ceramic pots, and I have used mine with a 3' pipe added (to move the hose away from the heat) right in the beach sand.

Step 3: Adding a Hole for the Plumbing

Picture of Adding a Hole for the Plumbing

Locate and mark the center of the wok, then center punch. Make sure you are center punching with a hard object backing up the other side. if you don't your mark will be too light and you risk just making a big dent. Now using a step drill in picture 2 drill a 7/8 hole. if you find the bit wandering off center go back and make a better center punch. Stainless steel is very hard and lots of pressure is need to get the first hole on the step drill. Step drills are a great way to make round holes in thin materials. Normal drills tend to make oblong holes in thin materials and a large hole is really not recommend with standard drill bits. A step drill can be found at your local hardware store in the drill section, or in the electrical area for making knock outs for EMT conduit. they are not cheap and a more economical  solution is a hole saw. These come in the diff sizes. Use 7/8 for the set nut ( this build) or 1 1/8 hole for the bolt in and weld in coupler.

Step 4: Adding the Plumbing

Picture of Adding the Plumbing

For this build I use a brass 1/2 NPT x 3/8 45 deg flare fitting with a brass1/2 NPT set nut. It fits snug in the hole and needed no additional sealant or welding.
I used gas Teflon tap on the brass, slipped though the hole and threaded the ring to it on the inside. Use a wrench to make sure it's tight. Make sure the holes are pointed down so the sand doesn't run in.

Alternates methods of plumbing the gas though the container for thicker materials:
Bolt on flange- great for thick material. Make sure to use a high temp silicon sealer to make sure there are no leaks. see attached photo
Weldable coupler- The best solution, but you must be able to weld.

Now attach the hose/regulator using the 45 deg flare fitting on the end of your hose.

Step 5: Making a Stand

Picture of Making a Stand

I used 1/2x1/4 steel strap for both the ring and legs.
I first rolled the steel in a slip roll. This could also be done with a bending can make one with a vise by clamping two bolts 3/8" apart. Now leverage the steel between and bump (small bend, move 1/2 bend again) till you have a ring. Weld the ends together, then true it up with a hammer.

I then cut 3 16" pc and hammered the end flat on the anvil, Using the bending fork I bent the legs to match my drawing.
Now divide the ring into 3 and tack weld each leg to it. Now you can true up each leg to be square to the ring and landing the same distance from the center of the ring. Now weld solid.
I finish mine with paint.

If you can't weld get creative with plumbing parts, bolt on legs, set it into a metal bucket, cement pit are just a few ideas.

Step 6: Add the Sand

Picture of Add the Sand

Set on top of your new stand, hook up the regulator to the propane BBQ tank and add sand. Sand should be 3-4″ above the ring. I use play ground washed sand from the hardware store.

This is a match light system and I like a plumbing torches or BBQ lighters to light mine. Light the torch, then turn on the gas with the flame above the sand. It will take several seconds for the sand to fill with gas and rise to the top.Now use the needle valve to adjust the flame. Once lit it’s time to play in the sand with simple tools (see pictures). This works best after dark when you can turn the flame down very low tell you only see a blue flame.


Do not ever touch the sand with your hands or any other part of your body! It will stick and burn you. Use caution, common sense and remember fire is hot!

Don't worry about fire traveling up the hose, but do make sure you fittings are leak proof (soapy water is a good way to test).

Keep your tank as far away as possible from your pit.

Here is a video of it at a party the next day after I built it. The noise is from a Tesla coil show next to us from my good friends at Omega recoil.

Propane/NG Disclaimer
Site Disclaimer
This instructable is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be an instructional medium of any type. Nor is it intended to be an authority regarding safety or regulatory issues. It is not intended to be a guide for safety or security. This instructable is designed to introduce current and prospective users of propane to common issues in the use of propane and as an explanation of how propane tanks, LP/NG Gas parts, related appurtenances operate and what their purpose is. Using this site as a guide for diagnosing problems or attempting to fix propane related problems is, under no circumstance whatsoever advised or recommended. Only licensed propane companies and/or LP Gas plumbers are to diagnose and make repairs. This site assumes no liability as it is intended for educational and informational purposes only.

I do not endorse any particular safety procedure or policy but rather endorses the practice of overall safety and common sense regarding all aspects of propane/NG and its properties. This site is not intended for "do it yourself" consumers or as a guide for unlicensed propane plumbing activity. It is published solely as a resource for people seeking information about propane and to better understand the activities that licensed propane companies, installers and plumbers are engaged in. 

Photography and Content Disclaimer
Be aware that safety rules and regulations vary among states and jurisdictions. Although the nationally recognized standards of NFPA 58 and NFPA 54 govern the propane industry on a national level, independent states, counties, cities and locales often have their own rules and regulations concerning LP/NG Gas and propane. The content within this site, along with the pictures depict an overall view of safety as an exhibit. The content and pictures within this instructable are not intended as a guide, but rather as an exhibit. Rules and regulations reside with individual states and local jurisdictions, not with the contextual or photographic depictions within this site.

Step 7: Exsamples of My Fire Gardens

Picture of Exsamples of My Fire Gardens

These fire gardens all use the same basic plumbing system.


boothification (author)2011-11-20

What about using a different medium for the filler? Instead of sand, maybe glass cullett... The propane shouldn't get hot enough to cause any melting, etc...

bertable (author)boothification2017-10-10

Glass and lava rock are excellent alternatives.

todell-1 (author)2016-02-16

Where did you buy the burner?

rallen71366 (author)todell-12016-02-16

You can find the burner, hose, adapter, and maybe even the regulator at almost any hardware store. Any place that sells parts to fix or build a gas grill should be able to help you get everything you need.

bertable (author)rallen713662017-10-10

Tangski (author)2016-02-16

It would also be a great way to transform some of those outdoor fire pit bowls! Re purpose them into this, which would be a great more wet wood to worry about! :) Can one get a larger ring to do that? I have not looked into it yet...nice build!! Great idea! Cheers!

Mark 42 (author)Tangski2016-02-19

I like that. I have one that's copper - I built a real fire pit with retaining wall stones.
I can make the old copper one for days when I don't want to make a wood fire.

Mark 42 (author)2016-02-19

I think I'm going to make something like this and just bury it in the ground.
I could make my own Flaming Geyser -

truedk (author)2016-02-19

These are very cool indeed! I live in an area of high fire danger and any kind of wood, charcoal etc fires are not allowed in the summer because of hot embers. This would be perfect for our backyard. Thank you for sharing!

SidA2 (author)2016-02-16

Will the sand melt into glass?

Tangski (author)SidA22016-02-16

No, you would need a much higher temperature as in a clay kiln for melting glazes. Also, you can get what is called a KILN SAND...and that takes very very high temps and is used to keep larger clay items from cracking and warping during a high temp firing. Have fun!

spark master (author)2016-02-16

spiffy to say the least!

pfsounder (author)2014-12-15

Could someone frame the containers outer edge with wood to make a resting spot for plates,cups, marshmallow sticks. Or, would the container get to hot for the frame.

mommywoman (author)2014-06-08

I know this ible is old but I'm wondering if I could gel fuel cause I'm kinda scared of gas. I know it wouldn't it would throw off any heat. Also could u use glass marble-like stuff instead? With the gel fuel it wouldn't get so hot.

kchapman8 (author)2013-05-07

You still sell those kits, correct? Looking to order one next week.

My project pics below, first pic of the fire pit when I got it. Second pic is of my modifications to make it propane

furthuron (author)2012-07-29

i love this, is awesome for a porch or deck to set the mood right. i will definitely be making one myself in the near future hopefully. thanks a bunch for the ible!!

Nemesis201077 (author)2012-06-29

I'm looking to build something a little similar. I'm trying to make a propane fuels fire extinguisher training system.
I envisage this consiting of a stainless steel 'tray' with 'sparge pipe'. Water covers the sparge pipe and a piezo ignitor lights the propane after it bubbles through the water.
I'm just wondering about controling the propane with a 'deadman's switch' type valve in addition to the regulator & needle valve so if I released it the gas shuts off.
This intructable has helped me start my plan as it uses some of the same ideas.
Very clearly put togehter too.

net_wisetrack (author)2012-05-07

very creative use of materials. Love your website.

JKMotorsports (author)2012-05-06

Thank You. I took some of your ideas and using some 1/2 conduit bent a round ring and tig welded it to make my burner. Using a standard BBQ regulator from a scrap BBQ I made a nice patio feature out of an old concrete planter.

Next I'm moving onto making a sand feature out of a Square Fire Pit.

Cool Work!

21bose (author)2012-01-30

Just FYI, the kits sold from Form and reform have the holes facing up, and need to be changed with an allen wrench, however, I have not encountered any problem with the sand yet, except for people receiving 2nd degree burns from the flaming sand, lol.

mlacerda (author)2011-10-25

I'm sorry if this has been already answered but, you said "Sand should be 3-4″ above the ring" How do you do that? Isn't the sand going to obstruct the ring'holes?

bobthebuilder728 (author)2011-10-21

Great instructable, im gonna make one

dmiles3 (author)2011-09-23

This is incredible great build, what was the cost?

Algag (author)2011-07-12

Are you able to cook on this? Didn't see it anywhere and wasn't sure if the sand would give off some kind of cancer causing chemical *rolls eyes* or something of the same nature? If it is said somewhere, sorry for the comment.

P.S. Great 'ible !

H3xx (author)Algag2011-07-28

I wouldn't cook with it because, well, sand burger. Howver a portable unit to take to the beach would be sweet. Though wind could be an issue.

Algag (author)H3xx2011-08-01

I was thinking about this and then I started to wonder if you understood that i mean to cook something like hotdogs and marshmallows as if a campfire

H3xx (author)Algag2011-08-01

Oh. I thought you mentioned actual cooking like grilling. :) As long as your sand isn't treated with anything, and you've kept the cats away from it it should be fine. Just make sure not to get any sand on anything you cook and don't drip anything into it. I'm quite sure a sand filled grease fire would be very unpleasant.

djenjen (author)H3xx2011-08-18

Yeah, end Zen fire pit... commence gurgling spitting oil slick. Tho' ain't wood burning fires Zen in and of themselves? Just sayin'....

djenjen (author)2011-08-18

I lived in Nepal for a time and they just burn small pieces of wood (any wood really; scrap tree branches etc) in steel bowls without anything else to gizmo it up. Burn the wood to create nice hot coals (where most the heat comes from anyway) and set grill top over it to cook stuffs. Propane is way too expensive in developing countries (here as well) tho' this fire pit ya made looks perty. If you're worried about a burn mark on concrete and don't wanna build a custom metal wrack to hold the bowl then I s'pose you could set the bowl atop a cinder block or two perhaps even with a piece of sheet metal to absorb some of the heat. I'm goner do that and set some really nice large stone chunks like quartz around the blocks to conceal the cement and the lower edges of the bowl itself then plop a bunch of tree roots around the makeshift fire pit n call it home for the winter! ;D

onemoroni1 (author)2011-06-05

What about using natural gas running a line from the house? I've repaired gas fire places by just using a six inch nipple, drilled holes and appropriate pipe fittings to connect it.

ZzTriplett (author)onemoroni12011-07-09

I literally just finished making a natural gas fire pit in my back yard by running pipe under the ground to it. It seems to be working just fine! :)

sciman1 (author)2011-06-26

Turns out, you can actually use a bbq grill regulator, the adjustment is under that cap. better off having it lit without sand while adjusting SLOWLY, if you adjust it without it lit you run the risk of damaging something when you do light it. just FYI

jyoung-1 (author)2011-04-12

Could you use a standard burner from a bbq grill?

KT Gadget (author)jyoung-12011-06-06

You could use the burner where the flames come out, but for the hoses from the BBQ grill, those will probably get you a different result than this setup, but thats just based on my observations, I have not tried this out myself so don't take my word for it.

gjm (author)2011-05-06

I bought this kit a few months ago and finally finished building the bowl last week but I think I have a problem.
When I use it the regulator and hose get so cold that within a few minutes the regulator and hose get completly covered in frost.
I have a propane grill, mosquito magnet, and propane turkey fryer and none of these exhibit this so it doesn't seem normal to me.
Anyone have any idea why this is happening? I stopped using it because I don't know what's going on with it.
Thanks all.

jonsarriugarte (author)gjm2011-05-06

Did you recently fill the tank? it's freezing because you have liquid propane in the lines that's boiling. Make sure the tank is level and not over filled.


gjm (author)jonsarriugarte2011-05-15

Hi again,

You are correct, it was the full tank causing the hose and regulator to freeze. I used a bit of the gas cooking a meal on my grill and tried it again and it's fine.

gjm (author)jonsarriugarte2011-05-07

Actually this is a brand new tank I just bought because my old one had expired.
I have another older tank that was just filled also so i'll try that and see if I get different results. I'll put the new one on my grill and use some of the gas too.
Thanks, I'll let you know what happens.

johnatwork (author)2011-04-11

What keeps the flame from igniting in the hose and getting back to the tank?

gas pressure and the lack of oxygen. Not something you should worry about.

Thank you for your reply. Nice instructable!

mitchell12 (author)johnatwork2011-04-25

Exact same thing as every propane bbq and blow torch, it's quite safe actually. Nice Ible.

nitsuj1098 (author)2010-11-29

I can't seem to find the burners you use at any local place. Is there something similar that is locally sourced that will work? Does the burner have to be round?

You won't find the parts locally. After a lot of people asked me where to get them I decided to offer a kit of the basic parts you will need.

eulaliaaaa! (author)2010-08-26

errmm.. Zen? What is that? I just think that this is a cool fire pit thingy. Great instructable by the way!

eulaliaaaa! (author)eulaliaaaa!2010-08-26

Although I am guessing that it is some sort of religion...

cupebill (author)eulaliaaaa!2010-10-21

Not even close to a religion. (Unless, of course, you don't understand it.)

The fire garden, however, is very zen for those who want to take it that way!

I'll be building several as gifts.

Kruegem (author)2010-10-17

very nice. very mellow looking. i makin it

ajohnson153 (author)2010-02-25

Wonderful Instructable. Two questions 1) Could one just use one of those firebowls you can buy at the home depot to keep from having to fabricate a base?
2) Also would it be possible to somehow connect this setup directly to a Natural Gas line for a home. Most of the homes in our area run on NG so it would be ideal to have it set up so we would not need a propane tank. Ok, So I lied about only having two questions the third question is how long can you usually run this setup on a single tank. I was thinking of doing this on a covered patio in order to prevent there from being a lot of smoke buildup.

beyoung99 (author)ajohnson1532010-08-02

I just finished one of these out of a standard cheapo copper firepit - works great! Already had the fire pit, bought recently from Academy Sports for ~$30 on sale. FYI - with respects to originator, my goal was to build from big box hardware store parts (Home Depot / Lowe's), i.e. no internet or specialty plumbing parts. - copper firepit is about 30" OD, 26" ID - distributor is soldered 3/4" copper tubing, about ~ 11" square and all T's and elbows (I'm bad at bending tube). Works fine with round firepit - copper tube through bottom is 1/2". Used electrical conduit fitting (kind with rubber grommet inside) to pass through bottom of pit, and 1/2" was largest they sell. Also used large conduit washers and plumbers putty to seal. - only component I had to buy online was regulator. I live in a big city, but NO ONE sold the recommended 30psi regulator. Online wasn't too bad $$$, and came with needle valve already installed. P.S. suggest trying a 20psi regulator, as my 30psi doesn't have much adjustment range before regulator shuts off gas (not enough back pressure).

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