Can You Use Lava Rocks in a Wood-Burning Fire Pit?

fire pit

I’ve seen so many fire pits throughout my travels and can say for a fact that they’re breathtaking. The setup, scenery, and fiery effects all make your home look like something out of a movie. There are so many fire pits that you could install in your home.

If I had the luxury to talk about each one, you might spend countless hours reading this, and I know how valuable your time is so I’ll keep things in perspective. Stone/brick fire pits are my favorite, but that’s not the focus of this write-up.

Lava rocks are natural stones that contain heat-insulating components that help sustain the heat in your fire pit. They can help make the heat in your pit last longer. If you’re on a budget and considering the best heat retention item for your fire pit, lava rocks are a suitable choice.


Safety Measures When Using Lava Rocks in a Wood-Burning Fire Pit

You may have heard that “lava rocks explode” or “lava rocks can be hazardous,” which might make you wrestle with the decision to throw some into your fire pit. But I assure you, lava rocks are very safe.

Explosions are rare as lava rocks are considered safe for fire pits, and only occur when safety measures are not strictly followed. Some measures to note are as follows.

Get Original Lava Rocks

The first thing you need to do when using lava rocks is ensuring you are getting actual lava rocks and not synthetic ones, as synthetic lava rocks go up in flames like fireworks.

It is easy to mistake a synthetic rock for the real one as they look alike. Thus, be extraordinarily careful when choosing them, and make sure to check the label and ask questions when making your purchase.

Keep Your Lava Rocks Dry

Another safety measure you should note is to always keep your lava rocks dry because when they get wet, they explode. By that, I don’t mean a disaster-level explosion, but rather aggressive cracks that can be scary.

You can avoid getting the lava rocks wet by taking the stones out and storing them in a dry place after use or covering the fire pit with water-proof materials when not in use. Sometimes, it is still possible that water gets into your fire pit even when you’ve taken necessary precautions. This is why you need to ensure the drain hole of your fire pit is always unclogged to protect the lava rocks from absorbing moisture.

If, for some reason, you couldn’t keep the lava rocks dry and had to turn the fire pit on, don’t fret. You might hear popping noises or see the rocks exploding. When that happens, stand at a safe distance from the fire pit until the explosions stop to avoid getting injured.

Burn the Wood One at a Time

When burning pieces of wood on lava stone, be careful not to go over what the fire pit can contain, and the lava stone can protect. Always allow the wood to burn down completely on its own.

You might have seen people use water to douse the fire when they need to turn the fire pit off, but I don’t recommend doing this. Although it might serve its purpose, there is a slight risk of the lava rock absorbing the water and exploding. The water can also damage the fire pit, especially those made of metal or clay.

Besides, if you are burning the lava in a concrete fire pit, the fire pit risks developing cracks due to constant heating and cooling. These cracks can make the outlook of the fire pit less fanciful, and in the long run, can tamper with the strength of the concrete, which is not safe. To avoid these cracks, you should burn wood in limited quantities. The pieces should be cut thinly so they can burn easily.


If you are planning to get a fire pit for your property, you need to familiarize yourself with its parts and how it works to make sure that you will be able to use it safely. One of the things that you need to know about is the material that you are going to use to line the bottom of your fire pit. Here are 5 things you can put at the bottom of a backyard fire pit


How Should You Use Lava Rocks for a Wood Burning Fire Pit?

You might be wondering how lava rocks burn without gas. I did too, until I eventually realized that different fire pits run on multiple fire sources. Indeed, some run wood, while some others run coal, natural gas, propane, and so many others.

Before we dive into the various processes, note that it is important to rinse the lava rocks to remove any dust or debris they might have accumulated during transport and dry them for hours until they are completely dry.

Process 1: Using lava stone as a protective layer to burn wood

Lava rocks are ideal as a protective layer for your wood-burning fire pit as they are perfect heat conductors. To use them:

  • Clear the fire pit of all content and debris.
  • From the top of the fire pit, place the lava rock to form a protective layer of four to five inches.
  • Arrange the lava rocks by size, with smaller rocks at the bottom and larger ones on top.
  • Place the wood on the lava rocks and burn it.

Process 2: Using for aesthetic purpose

  • Clear out the fire pit, including the lava rocks.
  • Fill the fire pit with pieces of wood and arrange them in a manner that enables easy burning.
  • Add little fuel to the wood and set it on fire.
  • Allow the fire to stabilize, then place the lava rocks on the fire pit one after the other.
  • Arrange the lava rocks evenly on the fire pit using a metal tong or rake.
  • You may add sand at the base of the fire pit before arranging the lava rocks.

Process 3: Using it to start a cozy fire

  • Put your lava rocks in a tin can containing lamp burning oil and let them get soaked.
  • While they are soaking, arrange some pieces of wood in the fire pit.
  • Using a metal tong, remove the oil-soaked lava rocks from the can and place them in the fire pit.
  • Arrange the lava rocks so they can be beneath the woods.
  • Set the lava rocks and wood pieces on fire and leave for about five minutes.
  • After five minutes, you may take the lava rocks out and let the wood continue to burn.


Types of Lava Rocks that Can Be Used in a Wood-Burning Fire Pit

Lava rocks come in different colors, among which are black, dark red/brown, and grey. Lava rocks also come in different sizes, ranging from small ones, with a diameter between 1 and 3 inches, to large ones with a diameter of 4 inches and more. The size commonly used for wood-burning fire pits is small as these evenly disperse heat.


There are certain materials that you can add to your fire pit to either make it more effective or more beautiful. If you want better heating, use lava rocks, but if you want something that is pleasing to the eyes, get fire glass instead. If you want to switch from one material to the other, you may be thinking “can you replace lava rocks with fire glass?“. Read our article to find out. 


Advantages of Lava Rocks

  1. They are decorative. Using them in your fire pit connotes style, elegance, and class.
  2. They are cheap and readily available everywhere. You might be opportune to live in an area where they’re abundant to the point that you could even pick them up from the floor.
  3. They require little maintenance. You can go for a long period without cleaning your lava rocks, provided you cover the fire pit properly. Also, cleaning them is pretty easy. You just have to take them out of the fire pit, rinse them, and let them dry.
  4. If you have a moveable fire pit, then you need not worry about the weight as lava rocks are lightweight and can easily be moved from one location to another, even when they already are in the fire pit.
  5. They can accommodate constant heat without breaking as they are coated with heat-resistant materials. You don’t need to worry about frequent replacement as the heat resistance makes lava rocks long-lasting.
  6. They enable long-lasting use for your wood-burning fire pit as they provide a protective layer between the pit and the fire.
  7. Lava rocks give your wood-burning fire pit a more natural look. You can choose to beautify it the way you want by picking any color or creating a blend of colors.


Disadvantages of Lava Rocks

  1. When used with fire, they lose their aesthetic function after one or two uses, as they become covered in ashes.
  2. You might like to roast your marshmallows over the fire pit as it is a good concept; until part of it melts and gets stuck to the lava rocks. Although lava rocks are easy to clean, this only applies to cleaning dust, ashes, and debris. When covered in sticky substances, it is better to discard the rocks than to go through a difficult, deep cleaning process.
  3. There is a risk of them exploding when wet, so when having a party around your fire pit with lava rocks, you have to be very careful to avoid spilling drinks.



There are a couple of materials that you can use in your fire pit, but our top pick will always be lava rocks. Not only can lava rocks be used for wood-burning fire pits, but they are also aesthetically pleasing and produce heat. So, if you are interested in giving your patio a natural look while keeping it cheap and eco-friendly, you should consider lava rocks.

Even though using lava rocks is beneficial and easy, that shouldn’t warrant carelessness, especially when having guests and kids. As with everything that involves fire, always have safety equipment installed nearby, like fire alarms and extinguishers.

You should also observe all safety measures that come with the use of lava rocks in a wood-burning fire pit. We have discussed the points that you need to remember in this article. As long as you don’t forget them, your fire pit experience with lava rocks will definitely soothe your soul and allow you to chill and relax.

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