How to Clean Out a Fire Pit With Lava Rocks
Lava rocks are an excellent fire media option for fire pits as they spread the flames evenly, disperse the heat and look great when burning. In addition, they are tolerant to high temperatures without cracking or exploding.
They also protect the bottom of the fire pit from hot spots and can retain heat for hours, making them ideal for all types of fire pits. However, they require some basic maintenance to keep them clean and dry to ensure they work properly and safely.
Lava rocks become quite dirty with food, ash, and grease droppings. You can clean your fire pit lava rocks with water by soaking them for a while, adding mild soap to clean off oils and stuck dirt, then allowing them to air dry completely.
If you keep up with the regular cleaning routine, the lava rocks are easier to clean and makes your fire pit safer. Our step-by-step guide will cover the benefits of cleaning a fire pit with lava rocks, how to clean them and how often to clean them to ensure their durability and performance.
Do lava rocks need to be cleaned?
We recommend regularly cleaning and rinsing off fire pit lava rocks to prevent dirt and oils from food and debris. As a result, leaving them dirty for too long can erode the rocks, affect their efficiency, and create a safety hazard.
Whether it’s a gas fire pit, charcoal, or wood fire pit, the lava rocks will get caked with oil, ash, and dirt during use. And due to their porous nature, lava rocks are highly absorbent. So you ought to clean the lava rocks in your fire pit regularly. Otherwise, the fire pit burner will get clogged, hindering the fire pit’s performance.
Cleaning the rocks also reduces the risk of flare-ups caused by the burning of dirty lava rocks. Oils from barbecuing meat will accumulate on the lava rocks and likely catch fire resulting in flare-ups or grease fires.
How to clean out a fire pit with lava rocks
Cleaning your fire pit lava rocks is not as difficult as you think. However, you must maintain this cleaning procedure every so often to ensure the durability of your lava rock and your fire pit. If you notice the lava rocks breaking apart, you must replace them instead of cleaning them.
Things you’ll need
- Steel wool or a wire brush
- Mild dishwashing detergent
- Clean water
- Shop vac(Optional)
- First, allow your fire pit and lava rocks to cool down.
- If you have been barbecuing over your fire pit, you must first burn off the grease drippings on the lava rocks. Then, use tongs to flip the lava rocks so that the greasy upside faces downward towards the burners.
- Place an aluminum foil sheet over the fire pit. This will trap the heat from the burner, allowing the grease to burn off the lava rocks more quickly.
- You might see some coming out of the fire pit, but that’s normal as it indicates the grease is burning off the rocks.
- After about 30 minutes, remove the aluminum foil sheet and give the lava rocks another 30 minutes to cool down completely. Ensure the lava rocks are cool enough before touching them.
- Fill up a bucket with clean water, add mild detergent and soak all the lava rocks in the bucket.
- Take a steel wool pad or wire brush and scrub off any stubborn residue and burned food particles.
- Alternatively, you can use baking soda instead of soap as it’s a natural cleaner that will not harm the rocks or components of your fire pit.
- Rinse the rocks thoroughly with warm water, then lay them on a clean surface, allowing them to air dry completely before using them in the fire pit. Wet lava rock can explode when the water trapped inside it turns to steam, so it may take several hours to dry.
- Use a shovel to clean the fire pit’s ash, sand particles, and wood fragments. Empty the pit under the bottom in clear. You can repurpose the fire pit ashes instead of dumping it in the trash.
- If you have a metallic fire pit, use a wire brush to clean off any lingering ash from the pit. It’s best to wear a respirator and protective gloves to protect your eyes and chest. Alternatively, you can use a shop vac to remove ashes from any nooks and crannies in the fire pit.
- Use a garden hose to wash down the rocks if you have a concrete or stone fire pit.
- Once you’re satisfied with how clean the pit is, allow it to dry completely before replacing the lava rocks or using it again.
- Use the wire brush to clean off any dirt and debris if your fire pit has a grate.
- Once the fire pit and lava rocks are dry, assemble your fire pit. Then add your clean, dry lava rocks to your fire pit without covering the burner. If you are changing the fire pit lava rocks with new ones, it’s best to rinse them before use to remove dust build-up.
How often do you change lava rocks in a fire pit?
Lava rocks are durable but tend to decay after prolonged use. Generally, lava rocks last at least 1-2 years, depending on their use. So if you use your fire pit often, you should change the lava rocks every season or two. You can also change the lava rocks in your fire pit when the rocks start wearing down and crumbling.
The more you use your fire pit and move the lava rocks around, the more they rub and hit against each other, which shortens their lifespan. Using wet lava rocks in your fire pit will also cause them to crack and explode, reducing their durability.
Should I put lava rocks in my fire pit?
Lava rocks are great for all types of fire pits. However, they are best for natural gas or propane gas fire pits. Gas fire pits require fire media for effective operation. This is because gas fire pits emit a lot of heat and may not uniformly distribute the warmth across the fire pit perimeter.
So people use fire media to spread the heat evenly to avoid heat spots. Fire pit lava rock is one of the most suitable fire pit media for a number of reasons.
Functionally, fire pit lava rocks create a semipermeable barrier to protect fire pit burner components from the elements, evenly disperse the fire and heat, and shield the gas burner from direct exposure to the surface flame.
Aesthetically, lava rocks are a great fire pit surface media because they are clean, low- maintenance, long-lasting, and natural-looking. They also retain their natural color under high-heat and extreme weather conditions.
Although lava rocks make a great fire media for your fire pit, here are some advantages and disadvantages.
Pros of using lava rock in fire pits
- Lava rock is heat resistant. This means it can withstand extremely high temperatures without breaking down.
- It’s a great insulator and prevents heat loss. Therefore the fuel in the fire pit doesn’t have to burn hard to produce excess heat because the lava rocks retain some heat. It can also warm the fire pit even after the flames have died.
- Lava great rock is easily accessible and relatively expensive.
- It dries quickly when it gets wet due to its porous nature.
- Lava rocks are durable, and you may have to change them every two to three years.
- They are lightweight, making moving your portable fire pit around or cleaning it easier.
- Lara rocks are low-maintenance. You can clean them often by rinsing them with water and letting them dry before reusing them.
Cons of using lava rock in fire pits
- Lava rocks are prone to cracking and even exploding if ignited when wet.
- Although lava rocks clean easily from a quick rinse, they are hard to clean if anything sticky gets on them.
- Lava rocks come in fewer color options compared to fire glass.
Maintaining clean lava rocks in your fire pit is imperative to ensure it works properly. Simply burn the grease off the lava rocks, soak them in soapy water, rinse them thoroughly, then wait until they air dry completely before using them again.
How often you clean your lava rocks depends on how often you use your fire pit. Once they start deteriorating, it’s best to dispose of and replace them properly. You may have to refresh your lave rocks every one or two years.