fire pits
Photo: Wendell T.Webber
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On a dark night, this black steel ball will give the illusion of flames floating in air. The all-over mesh body that allows for an unobstructed view and 360-degree warmth also keeps embers from escaping. About $215, Landmann, available at CSN Stores

Fuel Fundamentals
Before you buy a fire pit, consider what you’re going to burn in it (and check with your local fire department to see what’s allowed in your area).
Wood> Sold by the cord (128 cubic feet) or face cord (66 cubic feet), wood is generally the least expensive option, costing about $1.50 per blaze.
Propane> Efficient and clean-burning, propane costs a little over $2 per fire. You need to store the tanks of flammable liquid safely in a cool, outdoor spot and clean your pit regularly to get rid of debris and soot that can clog burners.
Natural Gas> Gas lets you connect your pit straight to a permanent fuel supply. Ignition is instantaneous, and a 2-hour fire will cost you about $5.
Alcohol-based Gel> Touted as more efficient than wood and more eco-friendly than gas or propane, alcohol-based gels are sold by select fire pit manufacturers for about $3 per can. A can lasts about 3 hours. Most pits, though, need more than one can.
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