The evenings are getting cooler, but it’s still nice enough to sit out in the twilight as darkness falls, maybe you have fairy lights twinkling round your deck or balcony too as you enjoy the evening with friends or family. But there is definitely a chill in the air, so maybe the mesmerising flicker of a live flame from some sort of outdoor heating could be something you might have in mind for your terrace or patio.

Whether you’re away camping or relaxing in the garden, there is an amazing selection of fire pits, chimineas or some sort of outdoor heating available to keep you warm whatever your budget. There are fire pits with grills or free-standing fire bowls, and even patio furniture collections with fire pits built into the table.

Don’t forget accessories such as protective covers, smokeless fuel, logs and kindling. The best logs are from seasoned hardwoods such as Azinho (oak) because this wood is dense and burns intensely over a long period of time.

The garden heating might be a patio heater with gas, halogen and infrared elements instead of solid fuel, and are all designed to let you enjoy the summer for longer.

Chimineas are better for small spaces, but fire pits are better for larger spaces. Because chimineas are narrower, they take up less room, and because they only radiate heat from their opening, they heat a small area very intensely. Some newer models have mesh all around, for heating a wider area.

Can you put a fire pit on a patio?

Since it involves fire - something that can be damaging to some kinds of pavings - homeowners can sometimes be a little reluctant when it comes to purchasing a fire pit, but apparently it is perfectly possible to put a fire pit on a patio, just check first!

Fire pits or table fire pit

The most basic fire pit is a bowl that holds a fire for sitting around. While they’re portable and can be used for cooking, they can create a lot of smoke. As well as wood, most fire pits are also safe to use with coal or charcoal, but it’s best to check the instructions first.

Hanging fire pits are suspended above the ground on metal chains that would reduce the risk of a fire pit scorching a patio. Table fire pits are just as they sound - a table with a built-in, wood-burning fire pit - a great design for get-togethers with friends and family. They’re also ideal from a safety point of view, as they’re not on ground level and the table-surround creates a bit of distance from the flame. Fire pits can also be powered by gas, but current gas prices might make them expensive to run.

Some pits are designed for camping and are compact and portable if camping around a cosy campfire is your thing.

Chimineas are my favourite

Chimineas are usually clay fire chimneys, based on a traditional Mexican design, with more modern versions being available made of carbon steel, cast iron, corten steel, copper or stone – all have pros and cons, and only you can decide. They have a hole in their front for wood, and they direct flames up and out of the top of their chimney.

Space or storage might be an issue

What works perfectly for a little city garden may not work as well for a large garden in the country. Make sure your pit is large enough to give comfortable heat while you enjoy it at a safe distance. A fire pit can be quite a large ornament and one you may not use in the depths of winter, or in the pouring rain, so make sure it can be dismantled or stored if needed.

Patio Heaters

Subject to a lot of controversy in recent years, patio heaters are surprisingly inefficient and guzzle electricity, which is bad for both the planet and your pocket. Fire pits heat more effectively, more cheaply, and more greenly, as well as adding an unbeatable fireside ambience.

Don’t forget safety when playing with fire – keep an extinguisher, water bucket or hose handy just in case!


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan