I own a cheap but relatively effective solid metal bowl-shaped fire pit:

Fire Pit

(football [soccer ball] provided for scale)

We sometimes have difficulty getting it lit - the smallest kindling takes well, but I think it doesn't burn hot (or long) enough for larger twigs to catch. I've been wondering if maybe a bit more airflow would help.

Would you recommend drilling some airholes in the base of the pit? If so, any tips on size and/or location? Anything else I need to be careful of - such as integrity of the weatherproof paint?

  • 2
    No holes. Work on fire starting technique cabelas.com/category/Camp-How-to-Start-a-Campfire/666549180.uts You can cheat and use like a Sterno fire stating fluid.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 19:25
  • I have a similar contraption, and mine came with a couple holes out-of-the-box. I always assumed they were for draining water if left out in the rain, but I guess they could help with air flow as well. I don't have the thing with me, but just from memory said holes are about 1/4 inch (6-7 mm) diameter, and there is a cluster of three spaced about 1 inch (25mm) apart. If you can wait a a few days, I'll get a photo.
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 14:27

2 Answers 2


It looks like you clean out and store your metal fire pit someplace after each use; there are no ashes in it, you don't have a hole to drain rain water, and the grass under it is green.

Drilling holes will be areas for rust to form. While that is an option, it will quicken end of life as well as let embers fall through.

I suggest you get a fire proof container like a metal coffee can, and place the ash and charcoal in the fire proof container. Starting a fire on a bed of ash with some charcoal from the last fire, makes fire starting much easier. The ash container should always be stored outside away from buildings and anything flammable.


  • You're right - it gets infrequent use, and the legs fold up so it fits in a neat carry-bag. Storing the charcoal as firelighters makes sense. Why does the ash help? Also, note the grille which the fuel is supposed to sit on - any ash would just fall through that, surely.
    – Chowlett
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 18:08
  • 1
    Set the grill aside. Layer the ash on the bottom. You need to build a bed for the fire to burn in. The ash works as a thermal blanket, Look at all of our posts about fire I don't think any of the suggest trying to light a fire on a grill. The grill might be good if you were using a fuel stick to light large wood, but starting with kindling is going to be difficult as you have noticed. Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 21:39
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    @Chowlett, the metal of your fire pit acts as a radiator to carry the heat away from your fire. This is no big deal once you've got the fire going, but for a newly-lit fire, the heat loss may be enough to cause the fire to go out. Putting down a layer of ash insulates the newly-started fire.
    – Mark
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 23:23
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    Ok, I'll give it a shot without the grille. Thanks!
    – Chowlett
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 11:06
  • 2
    @Chowlett the grille helps keep the main heat of hot fire away from the pan, good for helping prevent damage to the bottom, but challenging for creating a warm bed for the fire to rest on. If you want you can put some dry relatively flat wood down on the grille, put your ash and charcoal on the wood and build your fire there. Don't use plywood as the glue may be toxic, but thin split wood or dimensional lumber (1x8) will work. Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 15:33

I would work on a fire starting technique which doesn't rely on airflow from holes in the bottom.

  • Basically use any technique that you would use in an old-fashioned chimney or a campfire on flat ground - in both cases you have to make due without venting from directly below.

While creating holes would certainly help, it would also create problems:

  • Ashes, embers, coals, etc. would fall through while using it. To avoid damaging whatever you use the fire bowl on you'd have to add some heat-resistant container to catch them.
  • As @JamesJenkins mentioned, drilled holes will speed expose the non-coated core of the bowl, and thus allow for rust.
  • Last but not least: you'd have to make quite a bunch of holes to get a lot of airflow, at least if you're not paying a lot of attention to fire starting/building technique. And if you are, I'd say there shouldn't be any air flow problems even without holes. :)

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