Fire pit spark screens really are the unsung heroes of outdoor accessories. If you have pets or children, or live in an area where wildfires are common, their usefulness cannot be overstated.
Even if you don’t have pets or children, they still keep those popping, burning embers inside the fire pit and out of the night sky.
I have a feeling that since you’re here, I’m just preaching to the choir. You know how valuable they are — you just want to know what the best fire pit spark screen material is. Let’s get down to it.
When shopping for fire pit spark screens, the best options are going to be constructed from stainless steel. Steel is stronger and conducts heat slower than many other metals. It is also rust-proof, lending itself well for outdoor applications.
Beware, as many fire pit spark screens are constructed out of coated steel. While moderately cheaper, the longevity of coated steel entirely depends on the strength of the exterior coating. Once the exterior is breached, oxidation starts to occur.
The next thing you know, you’ll have a rust problem.
Naturally, there are more considerations than material when shopping for a fire pit spark screen. I’d rank them as follows, in order of importance:
- Ease of movement
If you’ve never worked with fire pits much, you may lack some important context. I’ll explain my choices below.
Ease of Movement
This is by far the most important aspect of a fire pit spark screen. I can’t tell you how dangerous it is to have one that is difficult to move.
Consider the situation at hand. Your fire pit has been churning out heat on the spark screen for hours and you decide to open it up to put on another log.
Unless your spark screen has a temperature-shielded handle, you are not grabbing that puppy with your bare hands. If you try, you will fail (and it will be painful).
Luckily, most spark screens include a tool to easily lift it off of the fire pit without burning your hand. Even still, some spark screens are large, unwieldy, and are hard to control.
Unfortunately, this isn’t easy to gauge without actually picking the screen up. However, a general rule is the more shallow a fire pit screen, the easier to control.
You might think that a lighter fire pit spark screen is preferable based on the ease of movement. Unsurprisingly, it’s not that simple!
In fact, heavy spark screens are often easier to manage when moving. This is in large part to their sturdiness in the face of wind or other disturbances.
With that said, you don’t have to pick the heaviest spark screen you can find! It would, however, be prudent to get a reasonably sturdy one.
Naturally, you want a good looking fire pit screen. Luckily, there’s not much variation in how the screens look. It will probably be black, with 0.7mm stainless steel or plated steel mesh.
There are quite a few variations within this though, including the height of the dome, the thickness of the frame, and the shape of the screen itself. The most common shapes are round, rectangular, and square. However, I have seen some oddballs in my time.
Which Do I Recommend?
I get this question a lot. “Captain, which fire pit spark screen should I get?”
I always answer the same way each time. “It depends on how large your fire pit is!”
For maximum effectiveness, you want to ensure that the screen completely encapsulates the fire pit underneath. Because of this, it’s important that you measure your fire pit and get the screen with the absolute closest fit.
From my research and experience, the following spark screens are the best at each size break-point. You can’t go wrong with any of them and you can feel secure in your purchase.
How to Measure
If you’ve never measured a fire pit before, you might be wondering how to make sure you’re getting the correct size spark screen. I’m happy to report that it’s extremely easy!
For round fire pits, simply measure the diameter. Using a tape measure, start at the lip of the fire pit bowl and extend the tape measure to the other side. Bam! With that small bit of effort, you have your number.
Since accuracy isn’t paramount here, you can typically get by with only that. However, if you’d like to get more accurate, you could check out the following YouTube video.
For square or rectangular fire pits, you’ll simply be measuring the sides.
Building Your Own
Many folks have the inclination to build their own fire pit spark screen. While this isn’t the path I’d personally take, I admire the DIY attitude. In this case, stainless steel is still the best material.
If this is the path you’d like to take, stainless steel mesh is relatively cheap (here’s one on Amazon) and fairly easy to work with.
Earlier this year, I was asked why I was opposed to building a DIY spark screen. The truth is, I’m just concerned I wouldn’t be able to construct a quality screen that would match the aesthetic of my fire pit.
I’m skilled in a few things, but welding and metalworking aren’t a part of that list!