How to Pick the Right Fire Media
If you have an existing gas fire pit or fireplace, or are in the process of building or picking one out, then you're probably considering what your options are for accessorizing the burn area where the flames are displayed. Fire media—an umbrella term for fire glass, fire stones, fire shapes, lava rock, and gas logs—is a decorative add-on that lays on top of a gas fire pit's burner or a fireplace's burner. Although the choice really comes down to your preference, we'll walk you through the pros and cons of each style so that you can select the one that's right for your needs.
What is fire media?
Fire media, which comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, does a wonderful job at discreetly concealing your pan and burner from sight. Because fire media lays on top of the burner, the gas is dispersed through the pockets in between each piece rather than concentrated at the burner ports through which they exit from. This helps create a more natural flame pattern.
Before we dive into each of the different fire media styles, let’s go over a few important tidbits.
- Fire media is compatible for use with natural gas or propane fire pits and fireplaces only, they are not designed for use in wood burning fire features.
- Soot marks will be more prevalent anywhere that the flames come in contact with the material. This is especially true on fire stones, fireballs, and white birch logs that are lighter than black or dark gray.
- It is essential that your fire pit has adequate ventilation. Oxygen is required for combustion, so using fire media incorrectly can cause heat and gas to build up within your fire pit, which can result in damage to person and property. Always make sure to follow the instructions listed in the owner’s manual on safe placement of media.
- No matter what fire media you use—if your gas fire pit has been exposed to moisture or rain, it is always important to inspect if the fire media is completely dry prior to lighting it. You should never light your fire pit or fireplace when the fire media is wet because water can expand when heated and may cause it to crack, pop, or burst. For your safety, you should always refer to the lighting instructions as listed in your owner's manual on how to properly operate your unit. We also recommend taking some protective measures, such as using a combination of a burner cover and a fabric cover when your fire pit is turned off and cooled, to help keep your burner and fire media dry as much as possible.
- It's a good rule of thumb to cover your burner with no more than a 1" layer of fire glass or lava rock to ensure the flames receive adequate oxygen for optimal airflow—especially if your fire pit or fireplace is running on propane. If you're using fire stones or fireballs, you would still use about an inch of lava rock then place your fire stones or fireballs over on top. Always consult with your fireplace or fire pit owner's manual for detailed instructions on installing media.
Add a pop of color to your flame display with fire glass. These come in a variety of styles that range from broken, pre-mixed blends, fire drops, fire diamonds, and fire cubes.
Fire glass is a translucent, jewel-like media made of tempered glass that is heat treated for use in gas fire features. Designed to radiate heat and never melt, discolor, or produce any smoke, this type of media is offered in an array of colors, styles, shapes, and sizes. From reflective coated options that will add a hypnotizing luster and panache, to broken and diamond edges that'll add a unique texture against the flames, fire glass is certain to accentuate your gas fire pit or fireplace with a modern touch without making the burner too cluttered.
However, depending on how often you use your fire pit or fireplace, one thing to keep in mind is that fire glass requires a little bit of maintenance. With some good ole’ TLC, it’ll take as little as 15 minutes to remove any dirt and debris with water. For information on how to maintain your fire glass, check out our How to Clean Fire Glass blog.
In addition to this—with fire glass being offered in such a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors—we understand that it can sometimes be difficult to narrow down your choices. That's why we offer Free Fire Glass Samples. This allows you to choose from five different styles so that you can explore your options before making a commitment.
Add a natural design element in your backyard by mixing-and-matching the smooth surface of Greige Fire Pit Creekstones with a contrasting texture, like wood. (Pictured: Cosmopolitan French Barrel Oak Round Fire Table by American Fyre Designs).
If fire glass is just simply not for you, fire stones are a great alternative for homes with modern, contemporary, and transitional styles. As the name implies, this type of media sports a smooth surface that mimics the look of river rock. Yet unlike their genuine counterparts, these pieces will not pop under extreme temperatures as they're made from heat resistant ceramic. They are offered in natural shades if you prefer a more neutral look, but also come in an assortment of vibrant colors if you are looking for something livelier. However, remember that some soot will be more noticeable on lighter colors than on darker colors. Another thing to consider is that some fire stones require lava rock filler as the base, so you may have to make an additional purchase on top of your fire stones.
Fire shapes offer a striking effect to fire pits and fireplaces with their unique cut and contour. They can range from simple geometric shapes to ornate sculptured designs.
Fire shapes are another great fire glass alternative if you're seeking something more contemporary. Like fire stones, fire shapes are also made from a heat resistant ceramic material that ensures they can withstand extreme temperatures. Whether it is the simple, smooth design of fire balls or the fun, whimsical design of geometric outlines you prefer, there is a shape for everyone. Depending on the style, fire shapes can be positioned on top of one another to create the appearance of a fuller flame. But you'll also want to keep in mind that soot marks may appear more noticeably on lighter colors.
The coarse aerated profile of lava rock, which allows oxygen to mix with the gas coming from your fuel source, makes it a fantastic addition both as a main centerpiece display and or as a base layer for fire features.
Lava rock is a timeless option for gas fire pits and fireplaces. Created right in Earth's backyard, this naturally formed mineral's porous composition promotes better air circulation for your gas fire feature and does a wonderful job of retaining heat. Though rough and coarse by nature, lava is also offered in a tumbled style that removes the sharp, harsh edges and makes it smooth if you are a fan of the polished, modern or transitional look. Because it is an organic material, sizes and colors will vary from each batch. From 6" thick chunks that make for great standalone fillers to tiny granules that serve as the perfect base layer for fire stones, fire shapes, and gas logs, lava rocks offer quite an amount of versatility.
Unlike other fire media that is offered in various shades, lava rock's brownish-black coloration—and sometimes deep red complexion, as pictured in the photo above—is the standard. But this can be of benefit since the dark tones are better adept to masking unwanted soot marks, making it relatively maintenance-free. Keep in mind though that because lava rock does fade over time, it will require it be replaced in the future.
Gas logs, timeless with their contoured silhouettes and intricate details, create the illusion of full-bodied flames. (Pictured: Cosmopolitan French Barrel Oak Square Fire Table by American Fyre Designs).
Perhaps it’s the comfort of a crackling campfire surrounded by trees or the coziness of a hearth inside a cabin, but there's just something about gas logs that makes it a tried and true option for gas fire pits and fireplaces. Regardless of what contentment it brings to your home, this classic accessory boasts of the beloved traditional style but with a modern twist. With their detailed design, gas logs offer an authentic appeal of wood logs but without the mess. Compared to real wood burning logs, gas logs will not burn or emit any ash or embers as they, for the most part, are made from ceramic or concrete. As with other fire media, however, soot marks will be more noticeable on lighter color options, like white birch.
Whether you enjoy the modern appeal that fire glass and fire shapes offer or prefer the natural look that lava rock and gas logs add, we're certain there's a design for everyone. But if the pros and cons outlined above still don't help narrow down your fire media search, feel free to reach out to our informative team members through our live chat, filling out this contact us form, or giving us a call at (866) 578-8538.Main image: The polished edges of fire drops, as pictured with the 25" x 45" Occasional Height Forma Height Fire Pit by OW Lee, showcase a stunning polished appeal underneath the flames.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
An avid rock climber, Stephany is one of the Ecommerce team members responsible for the addition and maintenance of product listings on the website.