Fire Bowls 101

Everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-fire-bowls

Everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-fire-bowls

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Adding a fire bowl is a wonderful opportunity to bring art to landscape, as well as to create a warm outdoor conversation area. To make sure that the right fire bowl for your needs is chosen, it is important to consider a few key issues.

When Planning for a Fire Bowl Consider the following:

  • The location and the access to the location?
  • The area size/bowl size?
  • The intended use?
  • The energy source?
  • The type of burner: an automatic shut off system or manual light?
Over the years of serving our customers, Concrete Creations has developed a sense of what works best. To help our clients' plan for their fire bowl, we have compiled a list of commonly asked questions. We encourage you to ask us to add any additional questions. (click here)

The below information applies only to Concrete Creations’ fire bowls, as our products are both iron and fiber reinforced, hand-made and NOT PRECAST in a mold.

We suggest following the questions, but also if you need to print for your contractor or plumber we attach a few PDF with the same information.

2014-12-fire bowls- general-Specifications

2015-Burner-Options

WT-AWEIS-MANUAL

 

Commonly Asked Questions:

How do I choose the right size fire bowl?

The real question is how do you want to use your fire bowl?

Do you want to sit around the fire pit/fire bowl? If so, go LARGE, as large as you can fit in the space. Why? Because a large bowl means that you can have a large burner; a LARGE burner = MORE heat.

However, if you want your fire bowl for ambiance or next to the pool, then you can really select any size that is aesthetically appealing. For a natural looking fire bowl that does not resemble a burning candle however, Concrete Creations recommends at least a 28” diameter bowl.

How do I determine what size fire bowl works for me?

If you have a professional designer/landscape architect, then you are half way there. With that said, visualization is very helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concrete Creations advises that you cut a piece of cardboard to the largest diameter size fire bowl that you are considering. Place the cut-out on top of a bucket or a box, to help simulate the size and height. Place some chairs around the cut-out approximately 1.5 to 2 feet away from the bowl, as that is as close as you will want to sit next to the fire bowl. Now you will be able to see if there is enough space; if it’s too big, cut the card board smaller, until it is the right size for you.

 

 

 

Natural gas, liquid propane (LP), gel, ethanol, or fire wood?

Natural gas is the cleanest energy source, and though it requires some professional prep work, you will enjoy the clean burning, without the smell of burning wood.

Liquid propane (LP) is used ONLY when you do not have natural gas available in the house, and you use LP for all your needs around the house. The propane tank CANNOT be placed under or next to your fire bowl! LP is heavier than air and therefore tends to sink, so the fire bowl will require ventilation. Fire bowls used for LP have weeping holes created for air flow, and the LP is routed to them from a big tank that supply's energy to the house.

A 25 Gallon ( which is 5 times the size your typical BBQ  tank) can run for about 4 hours for a typical 120K BTU burner.  Most of our sit around fire bowls offer about 130k- 180K, so as you can see storing and running to fill up the tanks in the middle of a party is not a good solution.

Gel has been discontinued and is off the shelf in most places, due to safety issues. We do not supply gel.

Ethanol burns for a very limited time and requires that you wait for the ethanol to finish burning,  then cool down, and then pour more ethanol, and then relight. We do not supply ethanol.

Firewood is a wonderful fire bowl option to roast marshmallows, or hotdogs without worrying about the burner. However, firewood smells like firewood, and it emits smoke, so it’s not allowed in some areas. Also, if the fire bowl is close to the house, you will smell the smoke in the house, so shut all the windows.

One more thing to remember about wood burning fire bowls is that it produces soot, and you can expect to find soot all around when it's windy.

IMPORTANT! Burning Firewood is not as easy to completely put down, unlike gas fueled or LP you can not just turn the valve. So be extra careful not to leave fire unattended, and to make sure there is no chance for the fire to reignite once you are not there. 

What do I need for wood burning fire bowls?

Wood Burning fire bowls require a drainage hole. The bottom of the fire bowl should to be filled with Gravel for proper drainage; and a rough sand, such as silica sand #20, should be poured on top of the Gravel to 2” below the top of the fire bowl; and THEN the firewood is placed on the sand in the middle of the bowl. The bowl in photo DOES NOT have ENOUGH sand.

 

 

 

 

 

How do I prepare for natural gas or LP fire bowls?

Fire Bowls (44” width and over) have a large 6” hole at the bottom of the bowl to accommodate both drainage and to allow the maximum flexibility for the gas pipe. Gas pipe should be set about 1.5”- 2” off of the center of the bowl, as most burners have a hook up in the center, and an off center gas pipe allows the flex line to the burner to enjoy less sharp turns and an easy flow of energy, and therefore less whistling. Gas or LP pipe should extend about 3.5” above ground, and be cappedFor 36"- 40" bowls the center hole is 3.5”- 4” diameter therefore when selecting a smaller bowl, make sure that the gas pipe is set about 1"- 1.5" off of the center of the bowl.

Smaller than 36" bowls will have a 2" hole centered and gas line should come up @ their center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do I need a shut-off valve and where should it be placed?

Yes, of course, a valve is necessary to turn the gas on and off.

If you do NOT live in a freeze area, then can to set the valve on the ground or off of the ground on a bench or wall. There are metal covers available to hide and keep dirt from getting into the valve when it is placed on the ground. A key is used to turn the shut-off valve on and off, and to adjust volume.

The main consideration is to make sure that the shut-off valve is near the bowl and a distance that allows ONE person to light the bowl. Lighting the fire bowl should not be a group assignment.

In areas that DO freeze, it is better to have the valve on the outside wall of the bowl, or on a side wall or bench, providing it's close enough for ONE person to light the bowl. A key is used to turn the shut-off valve on and off, and to adjust volume.

Holding a Match light to the upper part of the bowl and then turning the key, to light your fire bowl. Never leave the key attached to valve especially if you  have children. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does the fire bowl require a concrete pad or can the bowl fit on DG (Decomposed Granite), or stone?

Concrete Creations recommends that the fire bowl sits leveled. In earthquake or other natural disaster prone areas, it is best to anchor the bowl, and a concrete pad is recommended. There are two additional 3/4" holes in the base of the bowl for the purpose of anchoring. From the holes within the bowl, the pad should be carefully drilled, rebar placed and cemented down. If the fire bowl is on DG, you will need to have the shut-off valve on the outside wall of the bowl.

Are the fire bowls Fire Rated or do they have a UL number?

Concrete Creations' fire bowls are custom made and are not mass produced; therefore do not require an UL number.
We have been using our fire bowl in our back yard for wood burning, which is much hotter flame than most burners without any issues. As long as the safety guidelines on the burner size and location are followed, there should not be any issues.
Media inside the bowl should be fire rated.

Do I need to cover the fire bowl?

The short answer is Yes. Bowls that are covered will accumulate less dirt, leaves, etc. During rain the cover will keep water out of the bowl's burner and gas line; and during snow it is part of winterizing  to cover the bowl. Concrete Creations offers Marin type water resistant fabric covers that have ties around the bowl near the base of the bowl. Covers are made to fit each of the bowl sizes and are Made in the USA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burners and BTU?

If you plan to sit around the fire bowl/fire pit it is very important to have enough pressure to run 150K - 250K BTU, or at least 180K BTU. More about the burners will come later; however, this is an important issue as we have had customers that only realized after they had installed their bowl, that they did NOT have enough pressure to run the burner. In case of too much pressure you will have to get a pressure reducer.

What is an electronic ignition and shut-off system?

The Electronic Ignition System system allows you to light your fire bowl from a remote location; have an on and off switch; put the fire bowl on a timer; or have an on and off switch on the side of the bowl. An automatic shut-off system requires 110v run to the bowl or for a smaller burners the system can be battery operated.

The Electronic shut-off system also acts as a safety measure. If a sudden gust of wind or rain blows the fire out, the system will attempt to re-ignite itself up to 3 times; if unable to reignite, the Electronic Ignition  system will shut off the gas supply to the fire bowl.

Simplicity-Edge-With-AWEIS

Simplicity Edge with All Weather Electronic Ignition System, and cross fire burner.

Am I required to have an electronic ignition system?

Some areas DO have local codes that require an Electronic Ignition system. In addition, it is best to use the Electronic Ignition system in commercial applications, as in a commercial application unlike in your home, the fire bowl might be on a timer, and not always closely watched .

It makes sense to consider an Electronic Ignition System for your home, if you have a few fire bowls, as it will enable you to light them and turn them all off with just one switch.

For just one home usage fire bowl, which will be sat around and watched, it may not make as much sense to spend the money; on the other hand the peace of mind knowing that if the fire is blown out for any reason, then the gas or LP supply will be shut down after 3 attempts, might make it worth while.

In  windy conditions, or during rain, the fire bowl should NOT be operated; and Concrete Creations advises to cover the fire bowl.

 

Never leave the fire bowl unattended. A fire bowl is a feature designed to enjoy WHILE sitting around it. 

How do I choose the right burner?

Concrete Creations offers two types of burners: the typical stainless steel ring and the cross fire burner. Each of the burner types offer multiple BTU strengths and different sizes. Concrete Creations provides the burner pricing and BTU options with your fire bowl quote. The cross fire burner is not stainless, but all brass; however, it mixes air with the gas and therefore burns 50% less gas than the stainless steel ring.

We use Warming Trends LLC out in Colorado for the Cross Fire Burner, for both Manual Light and Electronic Ignition. We find that most of our clients LOVE the way the flame looks and feels like.

Does the flame look the same on both burners?

No. The flame from the stainless steel ring has a different appearance than the flame from the cross fire burner.

Where can I see what each of the burner flames look like?

Here is a Video comparing the two burners.

Why use a pan?

Concrete Creations creates most fire bowls with a modification on the inside wall of the bowl to hold a pan at the right height. Concrete Creations cuts the pan to fit the fire bowl. The pan is made from aluminum, with either a stainless steel ring burner sitting on top of it, or a cross fire burner attached to it. The pan enables a cleaner installation as well as easy maintenance. Media, such as lava, glass, or fire stones sit on top of the pan, allowing the rest of the bowl to remain empty. Remember that the ring should NOT be covered with anything other than the media (Lava, glass, etc). Never Place the Ring UNDER the pan.
Photos are showing the modification to hold to pan, Stainless steel ring on top of pan, and Cross fire burner attached to pan. Pans are cut to size photos are before and during crating.

Modification inside most Fire bowls designed to hold pan.

Modification inside most Fire bowls designed to hold pan.

Stainless Steel ring attached to pan.

Stainless Steel ring attached to pan.

Cross fire burner attached to pan.

Cross fire burner attached to pan.

What else should I consider when before ordering?

Concrete Creations' fire bowls are made out of concrete and are therefore heavy. If you are considering a large fire bowl, measure the access to the area where you plan to place the fire bowl. Make sure that you can have a pallet jack on-site to wheel the bowl to its placement location. Talk to us; Concrete Creations is happy to help you with the assessment of the situation.

What if I have more questions?

Concrete Creations appreciates your business and works hard to ensure that the process of specifying and or purchasing our beautiful products is pleasant and seamless. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any assistance. We are here to answer your questions and help.

About the Concrete Creations manufacturing process?

In a process similar to ancient clay pottery techniques, our concrete pots and bowls are hand turned on a large wheel while layers of cement are applied onto iron reinforcement. When this process is utilized with cement as well as fibers and other additives, it increases the strength and durability of the pot or bowl tremendously. All Concrete Creations' products are enhanced with a clear interior and exterior sealer protection for water feature usage, as well as for the freeze and thaw process.

Our Products are not made by machine, nor are they poured into molds. They are handmade - a hand thrown process that is unique to Concrete Creations. The finish and coloring is not always uniform because it is hand sponged. You can expect slight variations in the finish or color; this is normal for our handmade products and enhances the beauty of each piece.

What should I expect over time?

Over time the concrete will patina and age with natural character. Sometimes the concrete might develop small hair line cracks, or surface cracks, this is normal for concrete, however, in our products will not break the bowl. We use different additives to reduce cracking and shrinkage, and are constantly working with new materials that are being developed.

Concrete is easily scratched or chipped; if rubbed or hit against metal or other concrete it will damage.

Pots and bowls will need to be sealed every 1-2 years depending on exposure. Sealer is available from Concrete Creations.

What is your warranty?

Concrete Creations warranties its products, when purchased new, to be free from defects in Materials and workmanship under normal use and service for one year from the original provable date of purchase. Replacement or repair at the option of Concrete Creations of defective part shall be the sole remedy of this warranty.

How do I avoid problems during shipping?

Concrete Creations' products are packed and crated in specially built wooden crates. We make every effort to pack and protect all shipped products, including the purchase of shipping insurance; nonetheless, damage does rarely occur during shipment. In the effort to avoid unnecessary problems please adhere to the following simple guidelines:

  • A designated person should always be present at the project site to receive the pots, even if the shipping company suggests that it is not necessary.
  • Have a person with power tools to make the opening of the crate easier.
  • The shipment should always be inspected carefully for exterior damage to the box at the time of delivery.
  • Please Call Concrete Creations if there is any damage.
  • Please write all damage onto the bill of landing and have the driver sign the bill; take photographs.
  • Whether there is damage to the exterior box or not, please open the boxes carefully while the driver is still present. The walls of the crate are nailed together and the top is screwed down onto the walls.
How do I avoid problems before, during and after installation?
  • Make sure that your walk-way and/or gate is wide enough, and that the way is paved. If the path is not paved, be ready with some pieces of 3/4" plywood.
  • Measure access and all  gates, where ever bowl will go through. DO NOT guesstimate. MESURE the narrowest point.
  • The fire bowl should be installed by a licensed plumber, and per local codes.
  • Support for the burner is available from the burner manufacturer.
  • The easiest way to move the bowl into place is to rent a pallet jack and wheel the bowl next to it's designated gas line. If you do not have a pallet jack, an option is to request to use the driver's and tip him.
  • Concrete Creations has a video on our Concrete Creations You Tube Channel showing how to place the bowl at the gas line without real lifting, or damaging the bowl. Please be sure to watch the video and "like" us while you are visiting.
  • Do not strap the bowl or pot directly; if you need to lift it with a crane of some type make sure to strap the crate. Talk to us ahead of time if you plan to crane the bowl or pot into place, since it will require us to build special crating.
  • Many of the possible issues can be avoided by talking with us, and preparing accordingly. We are happy do help with what ever aspect, and can do Facetime, or Skype any time.
How do I clean my bowl?

Regular cleaning from dust can be done with clean dump sponge, an a mild detergent.

Fire bowls and our other products will age, and might get water marks. Most people see the water marks as part of the aging and natural look of concrete, however if it bothers you there is a way to clean it.

1) Prepare and Mix 5 parts of water to 1 part white distilled  vinegar. (Adjust strength as needed, can use commercial grade hydrochloric acid for cleaning).

2) Wet outside surface of the bowl thoroughly with clean water.

3) Use plastic brush with soft bristles to brush affected areas to remove whitening or staining.

4) Hose affected area with water immediately, once the whitening or staining has cleared or when change in appearance is observed.

5) Repeat the process at least two times to ensure efficacy of the acid solution. If slightly improving, reduce ratio of water to acid and repeat the same process.

6) Once the surface is clean, let dry for 24-hours and reseal immediately for protection.