Good materials and the right safety measures are essential for fire baskets and fire bowls. Those who stick to it can even enjoy a crackling campfire on the balcony or terrace.
Unlike a permanently installed fireplace, the fire basket and fire bowl are flexible and can be adjusted according to requirements and space: a mobile campfire for the garden, balcony and terrace.
Fire bowl or fire basket?
The side walls of the fire baskets are provided with recesses to ensure that enough air reaches the burning material in the case of fire baskets. However, glowing particles can also fall out of the basket through these openings and burn the substrate. To avoid this, a fire basket should always be used with a sufficiently large base of refractory material. It is best to place the fireplace on a fireproof stone or gravel base.
Fire bowls are always made of one continuous piece, as sufficient air can reach the burning material from above. This avoids fire damage due to falling embers.
Both with a fire basket and with a fire bowl, however, they must always count on flying sparks. Terrace furniture made of wood, bamboo or plastic should therefore keep sufficient distance.
The suitable location
Since flying sparks cannot be ruled out at both fireplaces, fire baskets and fire bowls should always be placed at a sufficient distance from combustible materials. If you want to protect yourself against flying sparks and falling embers, you can equip your fireplace with a spark protection grille made of close-meshed wire mesh. In the case of fire baskets, the grille is inserted into the basket; in the case of the fire bowl, the spark arrester has the shape of a hood and is put over the fire bowl. Particularly when used on the balcony, such safety measures are absolutely standard and should by no means be taken lightly.
As far as the downward heat is concerned, both fire bowls and fire baskets on the floor can become very hot, damaging the turf or wooden floor coverings. Here it helps to water the lawn well beforehand or to place a fireproof support that does not transmit the heat. There are also many fireplaces where the fire bowl is placed at a sufficient height above the ground to prevent heat damage, provided that the legs of the fireplace do not transmit the heat.
The most common materials: steel, iron, ceramics, clay
Ceramics, clay, terracotta: fire bowls made of these materials are very decorative and bring Mediterranean flair to the garden. In addition, they are usually cheaper than fireplaces made of iron, steel, stainless steel or cast iron. The disadvantage: fire bowls and fire baskets made of pottery are not resistant to high heat, which is why they are not suitable for firing with charcoal – higher temperatures occur than when burning logs. The result: Never use them for barbecuing! Much cited exceptions are models made of refractory ceramics and those equipped with an insert made of steel, iron or cast iron.
The material properties of the above mentioned materials speak against overwintering outdoors, as shells made of these materials can crack during frost. Also in summer it is necessary to protect fire shells made of natural materials against humidity. Due to the open-pored surface, the water can easily penetrate into the interior. If one ignites a fire in the moist shell, the water inside the material evaporates and expands, which can cause the shell to burst.
Iron, steel, stainless steel and cast iron: Metal fire baskets and bowls are insensitive to heat and are therefore suitable both for a campfire with firewood and for grilling with charcoal. They are also insensitive to wetness and cold, which is why they can also be used in winter on snow and ice. However, iron, steel and cast iron fire baskets and bowls can rust when stored outdoors, which can discolour the surface under the fire container. However, a rust patina that gradually forms is often a desired effect, as it gives the fireplace a beautiful vintage look. Stainless steel fire bowls are protected against oxidation and therefore do not rust.
Accessories: Grilling in the fire bowl
Many manufacturers offer accessories with which you can quickly convert fire bowls or fire baskets into a grill. These include grill grills, glow grills for better ventilation of the charcoal, inserts for the charcoal to reduce the distance between the charcoal and the food to be grilled, and devices for cooking food directly in the embers.
Fire baskets are usually supplied with a matching underlay plate to protect the floor from falling embers. However, these sheets are usually very small and therefore do not always fully protect the substrate from burns caused by the fire. For such cases, some manufacturers offer oversized underlay plates.