ingenious design

You Don’t Need to Know How to Build a Fire to Use This Firepit

The author’s L.A. driveway gets a little more rustic and enjoyable. Photo: courtesy of James Lynch

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on the Strategist in April, and this product is an excellent example of one that does what it’s supposed to do — exceptionally well. So we’re republishing it today as part of Ingenious Design Week.

The BioLite FirePit is the tech-bro version of the classic suburban backyard firepit: sleek and modern, with Bluetooth compatibility and a rechargeable motor to circulate air. And unlike a tech bro, the FirePit is a welcome addition to nearly anything.

At its most basic, the FirePit is, well, a firepit. It’s compact, easy to use, and easy to clean. You can put it in the backyard or fold down the legs and take it to a campground. Most important, it will make even the most inept fire builder look like Prometheus himself.

Often, the hardest part about getting a fire going is getting enough oxygen to feed the fire. I spent many years as a Boy Scout and a few as a backpacking and canoeing guide, bending over to blow on smoldering twigs, working hard to get the logs to catch, huffing and puffing until I was light-headed. You don’t need to do any of that with the FirePit. After lighting newspaper or other kindling under the wood, instead of causing yourself to hyperventilate, just tap a button in the app, and airflow in the burn chamber increases automatically. If you want more heat, just turn the fan up. You don’t have to stoke the fire to keep it burning either. Add wood and the FirePit takes care of the rest. The best part is that with all of that oxygen, the fire burns more efficiently, which means you basically get no smoke. (I know. I didn’t believe it either.) No more moving your chair every time the wind changes — and no more smelling like a barbecue for the next week. Other than finding your grandpa or a nearby Eagle Scout, I don’t think I’ve seen anything that makes building and maintaining a fire easier.

During these last few weeks, as we’ve all been sheltering in place, I’ve been using the FirePit as an excuse to be outside. On Sunday nights I pull up a chair, load up the pit, crack a beer, and pretend my concrete driveway is a dispersed campsite in the National Forest. Sometimes I cook on it too. With the included hibachi grate, I created a quarantine feast (for one) in my backyard in L.A. I turned the fan all the way up to get the coals to that perfect ashy white, then turned it low for my veggies. After that, I cranked it back up to sear a steak. It gives you the type of cooking control you might expect from a gas grill, but with the added flavor of charcoal or wood. If you’re not alone for your meal, be prepared for the cooking surface to feel a bit cramped. It’ll fit about eight good-size hamburgers or three steaks. As soon as the quarantine is over and I can actually cook for other people, I can’t wait to test those limits. Even if it takes two rounds of cooking, we can always watch the fire while we wait.

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If You Can’t Build a Fire, You Can Still Use This Firepit