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Protect your deck or patio from the heat of a fire pit.

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Blue and Yellow Flame — Propane and Natural Gas

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Unlike a wood-burning fire, a gas fire, whether propane or natural gas, burns with a blue flame, which indicates efficient (complete) combustion as a result of getting enough oxygen. With full combustion and a blue flame, propane burns at 1980° Celsius or 3,596° Fahrenheit. Natural gas burns at a just a little less — 1960° C. When the flame is yellow either type of gas is burning at about half that temperature.
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Why is the flame in a gas fire pit or fire table yellow and orange, not blue?
A gas furnace or stove or grill is designed to produce heat, and the valves are factory-adjusted for a full oxygen mix. Gas fire pits and fire tables, on the other hand are designed to produce a visual feeling of warmth, and the valves are factory set for a lower oxygen mix. The incomplete combustion of gas results in the release into the air of some carbon monoxide. This is in small amounts and not a problem in an outdoor environment, but a reason you wouldn't want to use a fire pit indoors.
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Castaic gas fire pit. Photo: courtesy
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Choosing a propane or natural gas fire pit.
One of the things you decide upon when choosing a gas fire pit is whether it is made for propane or natural gas. Often the fire pit can be converted from one kind to the other. Propane and natural gas require very different intake fittings. Each type of gas has advantages and disadvantages, which are worth considering.
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also known as LP or LPG (Liquified Petroleum gas) is produced as a byproduct of refining natural gas or in the refining of crude oil in the production of gasoline. Raw natural gas is refined by removing propane, butane, and ethane, the purpose of which is to reduce condensation in natural gas pipelines. Propane became popular in the U.S. in the 1920’s and, its use has grown steadily since then.

A key characteristic of propane is that it is easily condensed under pressure in a tank to become liquid. It quickly becomes a gas as it exits the tank. And a key benefit of propane is that it is easily stored, transported, and sold as a liquid in small tanks.

Installation may not be an issue with a propane fire pit. All you need to do is figure out where to place the tank, which will have a hose going across the patio or deck to connect with the fire pit. Some fire tables have space inside the table for hiding the tank. Some come with matching enclosures (separate boxes of similar design) for the tank. If you choose permanent locations for fire pit and tank on a deck, you could run the hose under the deck— in and out through specially cut holes.

A disadvantage of propane vs. natural gas is that you have to replace or refill the tank frequently if you use the fire pit frequently.

Natural Gas

will require professional installation. You will of course need to already have gas service to your home. Then you need a professional to install the gas line to the fire pit. And once you choose the location for the fire pit, it won't be easy to change. The advantages of natural gas are a.) you don't have to keep buying or refilling propane tanks, and b.) you don't have to worry about where to put or how to hide the tank.
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