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
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
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
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
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
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 fork.you 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
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.
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
These fire gardens all use the same basic plumbing system.