As homeowners, we always want our backyard to look both good and functional. It is a place where you can enjoy the outdoors without thinking about anything else. But to truly enjoy the reinvigorating nature around us, we need to get a fire pit. Fire pits have gained popularity in recent years. Homeowners use them to stay warm during cold weather and provide better aesthetic value to their outdoor space.
With regular use, copper fire pits will eventually turn black due to exposure to heat and soot. Another problem that causes copper to turn black is the formation of “patina” or discoloration from oxidation. Thus, regular maintenance is necessary if you want your copper fire pit to remain presentable.
A couple of alloys are used for creating fire pit products, such as steel, cast iron, and even stone. But when it comes to premium fire pits, nothing beats copper. Thanks to this material’s numerous advantages, the demand for copper fire pits increased.
Consequently, more people are also dealing with the problem associated with copper fire pits. For instance, some copper fire pit owners hate when their copper fire pits turn black. In this article, we will find out why copper fire pits turn black and how to restore them to their former glory.
Is Copper Good for a Fire Pit?
Fire pits are outdoor furniture that also serves a function: it provides warmth during cold evenings. It is also an excellent centerpiece for friends and family gatherings. Although, there are different things to consider when buying a fire pit, and one of them is the main material composition. For the best quality, the metal alloy should be able to withstand the heat and weathering effects that fire pits go through.
One material that checks all these criteria is copper, hence why it is considered the premium fire pit option. Copper is a durable material that doesn’t corrode, even in bad weather conditions. It is often used as a material for something intended to last for a lifetime.
However, choosing a fire pit doesn’t only depend on the material’s class and grade, which is also a good indicator if a product will last or not. Maintenance is another big factor to consider before making a purchase.
Below are the pros and cons of using a copper fire pit for our outdoor spaces.
Pros of Copper Fire Pits for Outdoor Spaces
Copper is one of the most durable fire pit materials available on the market. With proper maintenance, a product made of copper can last a lifetime. In fact, some copper roofing have been able to last for more than 100 years. This type of alloy is excellent if you want to use the same fire pit over and over again.
Other materials are used in fire pit production, like thick steel and its stainless variety. Stainless steel is known as an excellent rival for copper’s durability and rust-proof advantage. However, the designs for this kind of material are not that intricate compared to copper fire pits.
Even with its durability and resistance, copper is still a soft metal when melted. Also, you can use various shapes and more versatile designs, which can match your desired aesthetics. Besides, there are more varieties of copper fire pits on the market than fire pits made of other materials.
Finally, one of copper’s best characteristics is its rust resistance. Unlike other materials, you don’t have to worry about cleaning the rust every time you use your fire pit. Copper is one of the only four metals that doesn’t rust, the others being stainless steel, aluminum, and galvanized steel.
Cons of Copper Fire Pits for Outdoor Spaces
Due to its numerous advantages, copper tends to lean on the expensive side. Although, the price of smaller copper can be manageable. A 26” solid copper is in the $100-200 range. However, bigger-sized ones, such as a solid 30” fire pit, can reach up to more or less $300. But after the initial purchase, you won’t have to replace it for years.
Although copper doesn’t have a rust problem, it can develop a layer of green-colored tint called “patina” over time. This patina comes from the oxidation produced when the fire pit is exposed to the weathering effects. While some people love the rustic look of the patina, others prefer the copper’s natural color. In the latter case, the owner would need to polish the fire pit regularly to maintain its appearance.
If you are building your own fire pit for your backyard, you need to choose materials that can withstand extreme heat. If you are planning to use bricks, make sure to choose ones that can endure extreme temperatures because some bricks can explode in a fire pit.
Why Do Copper Fire Pits Turn Black?
Even though copper is rust-proof, it can still get dirty or exposed to other destructive elements. The biggest problem for copper fire pit owners is that their products turn black over time due to the accumulation of creosote and smoke stains from wood burning.
Additionally, the patina can also appear as a dark stain, which might not be appealing for most fire pit users. Some manufacturers keep this in mind and incorporate this patina in their designs. However, not all consumers are this lucky; the patina usually ruins the copper’s clean polish look.
These days, copper fire pits often have a high-temperature painting coated to lessen the effects of darkening. Using dark paint is actually effective in retaining the beautiful polish. But this preventive paint will eventually wear off, and the copper will start to oxidize or accumulate creosote and smoke stains.
As mentioned before, some fire pit owners actually enjoy the rustic look of dirty copper. This is especially true if the nearby area has a rustic-style design, accented with dark wood furnishings and pretty stones for designs. But for most modern designs, a dirty fire pit can ruin the desired look. Fortunately, cleaning a fire pit is quite easy and inexpensive.
How Do You Keep a Copper Fire Pit from Turning Black?
Here’s some good news for those who love the golden brown finish of copper. The patina formation can be prevented easily using some wax and household items. Protecting your copper fire pit after buying it is the best way to reduce the chance of discoloration of the copper.
The best way to do this — if you don’t want to use dark heat-resistant paint — is to use beeswax or carnauba wax. It will prevent the copper from turning black due to the patina and oxidation. To apply your preferred wax, clean your copper fire pit and use a soft cloth. Let the finish dry and buff it with a soft cloth for a good polish.
As for the dark stains from smoke and creosote, the best way to keep them away is to maintain the copper regularly. Always remove the excess wood, ash, and charcoal after each use. And don’t let the climate or weathering elements prime the dirt deeper to the copper’s surface.
If there’s a massive buildup of dirt and unwanted materials, you can easily clean it with detergent and rag. Scrub the dirty side of the copper fire pit thoroughly. When the buildup is caked into the surface already, use a commercial cleaner or a citrus fruit, like lemon. Pat the copper fire pit dry before storing it.
Adding a fire pit to your backyard improves the aesthetic and ambience of your outdoor space. Whether you are building on on your own or getting a pre-made one, you need to prepare the area where you will place your fire pit. You may be wondering, do you need to dig a hole for a fire pit? Read our article to find out.
How Do You Restore a Black Copper Fire Pit?
What if your fire pit already has a massive patina buildup after a long time of oxidation exposure? Is there a way to restore its warm brown glow and shiny exterior? Or do you need help from a professional copper restorer?
Fortunately, you can remove the copper patina with basic household items to make the copper shine again. Cleaning the patina with household items is possible if you have a smaller-sized fire pit and an adequate container. However, the bigger the fire pit is, the more challenging it is to clean.
You can clean your copper fire pit by using any of the following methods. If your fire pit is quite small, the patina can be removed by boiling. Meanwhile, bigger fire pits with milder patina buildup can be cleaned by using household items. And for severe buildups and damages, use commercial products instead.
1. By Boiling It
Submerge the copper item in the water with 1 cup of vinegar and 1 tbsp. of salt. Let the solution boil for a few hours or until the tarnish has been removed successfully. After the initial cleaning, let the copper cool down and wash it with soap and water.
2. By Cleaning It with Natural Materials
If the fire pit is too big for boiling, make a gentle scrubbing solution instead. Mix salt, vinegar, and thickening material, like flour, to make a paste. Apply the paste onto the buildup and scrub. If the buildup is too tough, you can add juice from any citrus fruit to make the solution more acidic. Finally, use a clean cloth to avoid scratches and rinse with warm water afterward.
3. By Using Commercial Cleaners
Lastly, a copper cleaner comes in handy if you don’t want to make your own cleaning solution. These products are available in most home maintenance stores and supermarkets. Check the instructions on the packaging before using the cleaner.
Copper fire pits remain to be the top choice for homeowners not only because of its beautiful appearance but also because of its great performance. If you are planning on getting a copper fire pit for your backyard, you need to know how to maintain it properly for it to work flawlessly and to keep its beautiful appearance.
Although copper is safe from rust, it is not safe from oxidation and turning black because of continued use. If you want to maintain the beautiful color of your copper fire pit, just follow the tips and tricks that we shared in this article. As long as you take care of your copper fire pit, you will be able to enjoy its beauty and the warmth that it provides for a very long time.