Before we even dive into the meat of this post, I’ll go ahead and say you can roast marshmallows on a propane fire pit.
I’ve heard this question asked so many times, so I wanted to put it to rest once and for all (I actually covered this briefly in my fire pit dining table article).
A few months ago, I got curious and started asking folks what it was they were concerned about when roasting marshmallows on a propane fire pit. The answers may surprise you!
So what is it? Fire safety? Clean-up? Food sanitation? It turns out, the answer is “all of the above.”
Each person I spoke to had a slightly different prejudice about what would make roasting marshmallows on a propane fire pit undesirable.
Is Propane Food Safe?
If you were to ask Hank Hill this question, he’d “Of course it is, I tell ya what.” And he’d be right!
You see, propane/butane are pure alkanes. This is a fancy word that indicates that they burn purely and don’t produce anything nasty when ignited. In fact, you’re more likely to encounter harmful chemicals from the complex molecules produced after cooking for your food.
This is reinforced by Hank Hill’s eternal mantra about propane: “taste the meat, not the heat.” The same principle applies to marshmallows! And many other foods, actually — you can cook many things with a butane/propane torch.
Is It Messy?
So, with the food safety or propane out of the way let’s move on to the next concern. Does roasting marshmallows over a propane fire pit create a big mess?
Unfortunately, it can, if you’re not careful.
When roasting marshmallows over a wood fire pit, the melted marshmallow will simply fall into the fire and burn up with the wood. With a propane fire pit, it will most likely fall on the fire pit glass.
Since the glass won’t burn, the marshmallow will continue to heat up. Eventually, it will harden to the surface and getting the mallow off will be almost impossible.
Of course, you can always replace the glass the mallow falls on, so it isn’t the end of the world. But it can create a mess.
Are Propane Fire Pits Safe?
Finally, the last concern I regularly heard was due to the safety profile of propane fire pits in general. Are they safe to be around?
Any time you involve fire and people, some level of danger is involved. However, a propane fire pit tends to be much safer than a wood-burning fire pit for a few reasons:
- You can control the heat output with a knob.
- Turning the fire pit off is as easy as pressing a button.
- The heat output is limited to the amount the regulator allows.
If you’d let your kids roast marshmallows on a wood-burning fire pit, there’s no additional danger for a gas-burning one.
Should You Cook On A Propane Fire Pit?
I’ve heard this question a lot among relatives and loved ones. Folks tend to buy a brand new propane fire pit and immediately start thinking “I wonder if I can cook over this beast?”
The short answer is “yes, you can.” But the longer answer is “you can, but be careful what you cook.”
While it’s perfectly safe to cook over a propane fire pit, I’d recommend against using grill grates or rotisseries over direct heat. You’ll have a major mess to clean up after the food is done.
If you do want to cook over a propane fire pit, invest in a good cast iron dutch oven. This will keep the food away from the fire pit itself and provide a lot more versatility in the things you can cook.
Update: Can You Roast Marshmallows Over Lava Rocks?
One reader contacted me and asked if she could roast marshmallows over lava rocks. She was concerned the heating the lava rock up would release some sort of toxin into the air, permanently contaminating her food.
I’m pleased to report that it’s completely safe to roast marshmallows over lava rocks.