Autumn is a period marked with the spectacular beauty of falling leaves. What to do with them is a question many people face each year. Your options range from bagging to burying to burning.
However, bagging and burying are both time-consuming. Burning comes off as the easiest option, not to mention the distinct and memorable aroma it creates in the air.
If you have a fire pit, it’d be a nice idea to know how to burn leaves in a fire pit. But before you get started, here’s what you need to know.
Check the Bylaws
Before you create a bonfire in your backyard, you need to check if the municipality allows it. Different jurisdictions have their regulations concerning open fires and specifically about burning leaves. In some areas, open burning is prohibited because of the pollution it causes.
As bylaws sometimes change without notice, it's a wise idea to check the current rules before lighting the autumn bonfire. If you need to get a permit to burn leaves in your fire pit, ensure you do so.
Burn Only Dry Leaves
Burning wet leaves can be a nuisance because of the smoke they produce. However, they're also a danger when left lying around, but you can collect them in a heap in a corner. Leave them to dry before burning them.
Collect the leaves together using a rake and a broom and put them in a tidy pile in the fire pit. You also should be cautious that embers don’t fly from the fire pit into grass or anything that is flammable. This is why it’s advisable to burn the leaves a small bundle at a time.
Putting large piles into the fire pit may result in a massive bonfire that might be hard to control. Too many leaves in the fire pit will also inhibit proper airflow, causing the fire to die out quickly. Remember that fire pits aren't designed to burn leaves, and it may not be entirely safe.
If your pit is shallow, the risk of embers flying off is a lot higher. Deep holes may get overloaded with leaves, putting them at risk of the end caps getting damaged.
Before Lighting the Fire
It's essential to be concerned about your safety when burning leaves in a fire pit. Bring some safety equipment close nearby to help you fight the fire if it accidentally gets out of control.
Bring a fire extinguisher, buckets of water, shovels, and rakes, and place them where you can quickly access them. You’ll return them to their respective places when the bonfire is out. Water will especially be useful in helping extinguish the fire completely.
It would be dangerous to the environment to leave the embers burning. While the burning leaves emit poisonous carbon monoxide fumes, the embers are worse at it. Besides, any outdoor fire should never be left unattended regardless of how feeble the embers seem to be.
Lighting the Fire
Throwing a burning match into the leaves to light them up would be a thrill. However, for your safety, you want to have a more controlled approach to lighting the fire. You also should avoid using kerosene or gasoline to start the fire.
Use paper to light the fire instead, by placing it safely under the leaves. Light it first, and as it burns, it’ll light up the leaves. Alternatively, you can use a long piece of wood to burn the leaves from a distance.
Douse one end of the stick in white spirit and light it up. Place it on the leaves and let the fire spread to the whole pile while using the stick to spread them out within the pit.
You need to keep a safe distance from the fire pit to avoid burning yourself. You want to avoid smoke that can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat. Exposure to the fumes emitted by the burning leaves can also reduce the amount of oxygen in your lungs.
This can lead to wheezing, coughing, and other respiratory problems. They can become long-term health problems if you’re not careful, which you want to avoid in the first place.
You also should watch over the fire as it burns to prevent anything from going wrong. It could even be a good moment to sit back and watch the beautiful flames as you sip some lemonade.
If the fire spreads beyond the fire pit, sprinkle some water to put it under control. It’d be better to start the whole process again than have a fire hazard to deal with around your home.
Put out the Fire
When you’ve burnt all the leaves, you’ll be left with a pile of ash that looks cold. You might think it’s safe to leave it that way but don’t. For your safety, pour water over the ash to put it out completely.
Collect the ashes from the fire pit and dispose of them. You can put the ashes in a bucket of water and pour them down the drain once you’re sure the fire has died.
Tips for Burning Leaves in the Fire Pit
Burning leaves is a natural form of disposing of them, but the process comes with a risk. If you have a big heap to deal with, it’s best to determine the most appropriate time to burn it. As a tip, lighting a bonfire on calm nights is ideal.
The perfect weather for pit fires is when it's calm and cool. Nighttime would be best when the temperatures are also cooler. By all costs, avoid lighting a fire when the weather is predicted to change or a storm is coming.
Burning leaves in a fire pit is not your usual pit-burning activity. Fire pits are not designed to burn leaves, but they use other sources of fuels, mostly wood. However, it’s not cast in stone that you shouldn’t burn anything else in them.
When cleaning your yard and collecting the leaves, you can learn how to burn leaves in a fire pit safely. Ensure you do this only if the bylaws in your area allow. Be careful not to let the fire spread out of the fire pit area to avoid potential fire hazards.