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7 Effective Tips to Keep a Fire Pit From Rusting

How to Prevent Rust on Your Fire Pit and Keep it Looking Great

Like any metal object left outdoors, fire pits in a yard are prone to rusting over time. Not only does rust look unsightly, but it can eventually damage the structural integrity of your fire pit if left unchecked.

The good news is rust on your fire pit can be prevented and treated with some simple maintenance and care. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide tips to keep your fire pit looking rust-free and enjoyable for years to come.

Key Takeaways

  1. Store indoors or cover when not in use to prevent rain/moisture contact which causes rust. A waterproof cover is a good investment.
  • Elevate off the wet ground with bricks or concrete blocks so water can't pool underneath. Allow airflow.

  • Create a thermal barrier like sand or gravel to protect from fire damage.

  • Clean out ash after each use and debris at least once a season to prevent moisture buildup.

  • Remove existing rust with baking soda and vinegar paste, steel wool, sanding, or high-heat paint. Then apply vegetable oil or rust-resistant paint to protect the surface.

a very rusty round steel fire pit with a screened lid

    7 Tips for Protecting Your Fire Pit from Rust Damage

    Rust needs three elements to form - oxygen, water, and exposed metal. Limiting exposure to these will help prevent rust from occurring in the first place. Here are some of the best ways to protect your fire pit from rust damage:

    1. Store it Indoors When Not in Use

    The easiest way to prevent your fire pit from rusting is to store it indoors or under a roof or covered area when you are not using it. This is because one of the common reasons why rust begins to form on fire pits is that the fire pit gets wet from rain.

    Storing it indoors eliminates contact with rain and moisture, keeping the metal dry. A garage, shed, or covered patio are all great storage options.

    2. Invest in a Waterproof Cover

    Investing in a waterproof cover for your modern fire pit is another effective way to prevent rust. The cover protects the fire pit from rain and moisture, which are two of the main causes of rust forming. Look for a cover made of durable, waterproof fabric. Make sure to securely fasten it, as flapping in the wind can damage the cover over time.

    When choosing a cover, consider the following common fire pit cover materials and their benefits:

    Material Benefits
    Vinyl Waterproof, durable, affordable
    Polyester Withstands weather, UV rays, mildew resistant
    Canvas Breathable yet thick, customizable sizing
    Aluminum Lightweight, totally waterproof

    3. Keep it Elevated Off Wet Ground

    Keeping the fire pit elevated at all times can also aid in preventing rust. This prevents water from pooling under the fire pit, which can lead to rust forming on the bottom and underside.

    Place your steel fire pit on pavers, bricks, or concrete blocks to keep it up off the ground. Just a few inches of clearance is all that's needed to allow airflow and prevent water from being trapped underneath.

    4. Use Natural Barriers Between Fire and Pit

    Using a natural internal heat barrier in your fire pit can help in protecting the fire pit from rust. This could be a layer of sand or gravel in the bottom of the fire bowl before building your fire.

    The layer of sand or gravel absorbs moisture and creates a thermal barrier between the fire and the metal of the pit. This helps protect the bottom of the fire bowl from damage.

    5. Apply High-Heat Resistant Paint

    Applying high-heat-resistant spray paint to your fire pit can help prevent rust. The paint acts as a protective barrier, preventing moisture from reaching the metal.

    Look for spray paint designed for high-heat applications, such as on grills, wood stoves, or exhaust pipes. Make sure to prep and clean the metal properly before painting.

    6. Coat with Vegetable Oil for Extra Protection

    Coating your outdoor fire pit with vegetable oil can provide extra protection against rust. The oil creates a natural protective barrier between the metal and the elements. Oils like canola oil help prevent a fire pit from rust and are also food-safe.

    After cleaning your fire pit, apply a thin coat of oil with a cloth. Allow it to dry completely. Reapply after each use during the seasons you use your fire pit.

    7. Clean Out Ash Regularly

    Regularly cleaning out ash from your metal outdoor fire pit can help prevent rust. Ash can trap moisture against the metal, which can lead to rust damage over time.

    After each use, safely remove ashes. At least once per season, fully clean out the entire fire bowl with soapy water. This will remove any built-up ash and debris.

    an illustration of items that can be used to remove rust from fire pits

    How to Remove Existing Rust from Your Fire Pit

    If your backyard fire pit already has some light rust, don't worry. Surface level rust can often be removed and future rust prevented. Here are some effective methods for cleaning rust off a fire pit:

    Cleaning with Baking Soda and Vinegar

    To remove rust from a fire pit, you can use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Create a paste with 3 parts baking soda to 1 part vinegar. Apply it to rusted areas and let sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing. The acid in the vinegar reacts with the baking soda to help break down rust.

    After letting the solution sit, use a clean cloth or scrub brush to scrub away rust. Rinse thoroughly when finished. Dry immediately and apply a protective coating.

    Scrubbing with Steel Wool

    For more stubborn rust, scrubbing the rusted area with steel wool can also help remove it. Soak rusted areas with vinegar first. Let it sit for 10 minutes before scrubbing with steel wool.

    The coarse fibers of the steel wool will effectively scour off rust without damaging the underlying metal. Make sure to scrub in the direction of the grain. Rinse and dry when finished.

    Sanding Away Light Rust

    For very light rust, sanding the rusted area can be effective. Use medium-grit sandpaper (120-150 grit) and sand in the direction of the metal brush marks. Sand until all traces of rust are removed.

    Be careful not to overly scour or you may create pits in the metal. Wipe away sanding dust and apply a protective coating when finished.

    Repainting Over Rusted Areas

    After removing the rust, you can repaint the area with high-heat, rust-resistant spray paint to prevent future rust. Make sure the area is fully cleaned and dried first. Use thin coats and allow each coat to fully cure before adding another.

    Repainting can help stop rust in its tracks before it damages the surface further or spreads.

    a round steel fire pit with flames and logs beside it in a field

    Enjoy Your Fire Pit for Years with Proper Care

    With some simple preventative maintenance and care, your fire pit can remain an enjoyable backyard focal point for years to come. Be diligent about addressing any rust issues quickly as they arise. And be sure to store it properly when not in use during rainy or snowy seasons.

    Follow these tips, and your fire pit will impress guests with its durable and rust-free good looks season after season. Relax in front of the flickering flames knowing your fire pit is well protected from the elements.


    Does fire pit rust form inside due to the heat?

    Actually, it is not the heat or fire that causes your fire pit to rust, but rather moisture and environmental factors. Rust can develop over time as you use your fire pit, especially if it is not properly taken care of after each use. The rust can also be a result of the fire pit not being in use and being left to absorb moisture from the atmosphere.

    How can I treat rust if it starts forming on the steel fire pit?

    If rust begins forming on your square metal fire pit, you can try lightly brushing the rusted area with a wire brush. Then apply a rust-proofing product and let it dry. Afterward, you can apply some oil to further prevent rust.

    How can having a smaller fire pit help keep your fire pit from rusting?

    A smaller fire pit has less surface area that is exposed to moisture or weather conditions, which are the main causes of rust. Also, a smaller pit is easier to move indoors or cover-up, providing additional ways to keep your fire pit from rusting.

    How can custom fire pits prevent rust?

    Custom fire pits tend to be made from high-quality, durable materials that are often more resistant to rust. Additionally, many custom fire pits come with a protective cover or coating that can make your fire pit rustproof.

    Is it safe to treat rust on the fire pit while it's still hot?

    For your safety and to ensure best results, always make sure your fire pit is cool and clean before you start treating rust or applying cooking oil. You must let the fire pit dry entirely before applying oil or a rust-proofing agent to avoid any accidents or damage.

    How does moving the fire pit help keep it from rusting?

    Keeping your fire pit in a dry and protected place can prevent rust from forming on your fire pit. If your fire pit is portable, move your fire pit to a dry location, such as in a shed or garage. Even covering it can help protect your fire pit from the weather and extend its lifespan.

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