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Leaves are fine but wood that's fully dried is your best bet. Choose aromatic woods, like mesquite or cherry, for a pleasant aroma.
Green leaves are difficult to burn and produce thick, white smoke, while newspaper produces a lot of airborne ash and cinder that can cause a fire outside of the fireplace. Stick to the dried organic matter.
Not all cities and towns require permits to build outdoor fireplaces, but you should always check about building permits and fire codes before starting construction.
The base of a fireplace shouldn't sit directly on concrete or dirt, so it's best to build a pad made of fire-safe bricks.
The bricks should be placed closely together, but eliminating mortar will allow cracks for rainwater to drain through.
A ground level surface is the best place to build an outdoor fireplace, because the weight of the finished fireplace may cause a supporting structure to collapse or create a fire hazard.
Well-seasoned woods like oak and hickory create a lot less smoke than softwoods or unseasoned hardwoods.
Using chemicals to start your outdoor fire increases the chance of the fire getting out of your control, so always use a fatwood stick.
A fatwood stick is made from highly combustible pine tree resin. It lights with a single match, even when it's wet, which makes it a trusty tool in your outdoor fireplace kit.
Outdoor fires should always be extinguished and the ashes transferred to an ash bucket before retiring for the evening.
Ash buckets are for hot ashes, so you should always use a metal ash bucket to reduce the possibility of melting or fire.
Outdoor fireplace accessories not only need to be able to handle fire, but also rain and other elements, so stainless steel is your best bet.
A fire extinguisher is ideal to have standing by if your fire gets out of hand, but sand and a water hose are good backups.
Vents should pointing upward to direct hot embers and smoke away from those in front of the fire.
Extra logs should be stacked at least 20 feet away from the fireplace in case the fire were to get out of hand. You wouldn't want to fuel the fire, so to speak.
Standard logs are 18 inches, so if you get a firebox that is at least that long, you'll save time on cutting wood.
While you may have a limitless budget and 20 people who plan to be firmly planted in front of it all winter, the size of your space will largely dictate the size of your fireplace.
If you burn wood, you have to have a chimney, which increases the size of your fireplace by at least 2 feet. Gas fireplaces don't need chimneys, so they may be a better fit for smaller spaces.
Even with a spark arrestor, manufacturers advise against burning wood in a concrete fireplace. These are best for gas logs.
Chimeneas originated in Mexico and were made of clay. They were used for heat as well as cooking and baking.