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How Do I Make a Beach Fire Pit?

By S. McNesby
Updated: May 23, 2024

Build a beach fire pit by digging a hole in the sand, then adding wood and kindling and lighting. A metal grill for cooking can be added to the fire pit if desired. At most beaches, you will be required to extinguish the fire when you are done; the hole should be filled in as well. Some locations only allow fire pit use in the off season or in restricted areas.

A beach fire pit should be located away from high traffic areas and wet sand. Digging through wet sand is much more difficult than digging through sand that is dry or slightly damp. Beach bonfires shouldn't be placed too close to the tide line or too close to the dunes or vegetation. If you are unsure about the laws in the area, research ahead of time to see if you need a permit or if there are any regulations involving open beach fires.

Unless the beach already has pre-built fire pits, you'll need to dig your own. A collapsible shovel folds down to a compact size so it is easy to haul out to the beach. Once the fire pit area has been selected, use the shovel to dig a hole in the sand. The hole used for a beach fire pit should be about 2 feet wide and a foot deep, but the size can be varied. The bigger the pit, the longer it will take to dig. Fill a bucket with water from the ocean and keep it handy, just in case.

Once the space has been chosen and the hole has been dug, lay the wood inside, with kindling underneath, and then light. Kindling for a fire pit can be small, dry twigs, rolled newspaper, or even an easy-light fire log. You may have to collect twigs or cut them into smaller pieces; a hunting knife will be useful for this. Make sure you bring one with you because it's always better to have one and not need it than need it and not have it. Most beach locations are windy, so consider using a hand-held propane lighter instead of a match or cigarette lighter to light the fire, it also wouldn't hurt to bring a knife sharpener with you in case your knife or scissors get dull sooner than you think. Remember, sharper blades allow for safer use.

Food can be cooked over a beach fire pit if desired. Use a sharp knife to clean cut your meat into smaller, easy to chew pieces and season to taste. Remember that the smaller the pieces are the shorter time it will take for it to cook. Use long, clean sticks to hold food over the fire, or place a grill on top of the fire pit. If you use a metal grill, you will have to wait until the fire dies down to cook food. If a piece of food catches on fire, drop it into the flames or extinguish it in the bucket of water.

Extinguish the fire with water when you are done. Once the flames are completely gone, use the shovel to fill the fire pit back in. Pack up all of your trash and unused supplies and take them with you when you leave the beach. Make sure you keep track of all the tools you brought with you like shovels, utility knives, and more. This will make it easier for you to account for everything before you go home.

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Discussion Comments
By lluviaporos — On Jul 26, 2014

@Fa5t3r - I didn't know that about the stones, although it makes sense. I'm glad I've never tried to put rocks on a fire. At the most we usually make a ring of them around it, but not even that usually. It's just a nice place to sit and drink on the beach with a guitar and some friends. We toast marshmallows but that's about it.

By Fa5t3r — On Jul 25, 2014

@Mor - Another important thing that isn't obvious to everyone is to avoid using beach stones on the fire. It isn't a bad idea to heat up rocks in the fire to use for cooking or whatever, but stones you find near the water might have water inside them, and when they are heated up they can explode.

That's not a big worry if they are only pebbles on the beach, but a couple of fist sized rocks turned into shrapnel isn't going to be fun for anyone.

If you do intend to cook with heated stones or use them for anything else, you need to bring them from somewhere else and make sure they are bone dry before you put them on the fire.

I've had some amazing food cooked with a beach fire pit, but you have to be safe. It's not a toy and not something to be taken for granted either.

By Mor — On Jul 24, 2014

Make sure you aren't too close to the waterline or your pit might start to fill with water and collapse as you dig it. And remember that the water line will change as time passes and the tide comes in (or goes out).

I would also suggest that you don't light a fire too close to any big clumps of seaweed or driftwood. In the right conditions you could accidentally set off a blaze that might seem easy to contain on the beach, but can just as easily spread to the areas beyond the beach as well.

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