How to Keep Fire Pit from Rusting – 8 Tips to Avoid Rust

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Have you ever gone to light your fire pit only to find it is starting to rust? Even the best fire pits are not immune to rust’s persistent and damaging effects. And when rust takes hold, it can not only mar the beauty of your fire pit but potentially shorten its lifespan.

Rust, resulting from the prolonged exposure of metal to moisture and oxygen, is a common problem for outdoor appliances. If left defenceless against the elements, your beloved fire pit can easily fall victim to this oxidative process. 

There are strategies and precautions you can take to protect your fire pit and keep it rust-free for years to come. So, let’s look at how to keep a fire pit from rusting so you can enjoy your investment for years.

Why is My Fire Pit Rusting?

fire pit rusting

There are several common reasons why fire pits rust. The type of material used to construct the fire pit is a crucial consideration.

Steel or metal fire pits are more prone to rusting and require preventive measures. They have specific characteristics that make them susceptible to rust, especially when exposed to long-term moisture. 

Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential to keeping your fire pit from rusting. Some preventive measures include applying rust-proof coatings, using stainless steel fire pits, and creating a natural protective barrier through seasoning. 

Understanding these factors and the susceptibility of different materials to rusting will help you keep your fire pit rust-free and prolong its lifespan.

Here are some different types of fire pit metals and how they are affected by rust.

MetalChances of Rust Forming
Carbon SteelHigh
Cast IronMedium
Stainless SteelLow

Please note aluminum melts at around 1220 degrees Fahrenheit, and isn’t a suitable choice for a wood burning fire pit.

Types of Rust That Can Form on Fire Pits

Rust TypeWhat it Looks Like
Stable RustIt has a uniform appearance, forms over long periods, and can be removed using a suitable cleaning product with moderate effort.
Flash RustIt starts quickly and appears as bright orange rust, but it is the easiest to remove and can be eliminated within minutes with the right tools and cleaning product.
Flaking RustThis type of rust displaces the metal, causing paint peeling, and typically appears near corners or where the paint ends; it requires appropriate cleaning products to remove.
Pitting RustNot commonly found in fire pits, it is the most severe type of rust, resulting from air pockets in lower-quality metal and causing internal rusting that eats away the metal from the inside.

Benefits of Preventing Rust Formation

Preventing your fire pit from rusting has several benefits that protect its appearance and structural integrity. Not to mention, it also eliminates potential health risks. Rust forms upon the exposure of metal to moisture and oxygen, and it can compromise the functionality and safety of a fire pit. 

By preventing rust formation, you can ensure the longevity and usability of your fire pit. Rust can spread rapidly and create holes in the metal. The fire pit weakens, making it unsafe and dangerous to nearby individuals. Regularly cleaning and maintaining your fire pit can help prevent rust formation and extend its lifespan.

Not to mention, rust has the potential to harbor bacteria. Encountering these microorganisms can lead to health complications. A rusty fire pit can injure you, allowing bacteria to enter the body and possibly cause infections like tetanus. You can eliminate these safety risks by preventing rust formation.

Another suitable measure is to use materials like stainless steel, which is naturally rust-resistant. If rust appears on your fire pit despite all preventative measures, you must promptly address it by using a wire brush to remove it and applying protective coatings to keep it from spreading further.

Prioritizing rust prevention can help you protect the structural integrity of your fire pit, maintain its appealing appearance, and minimize potential health risks associated with rust and bacterial contamination.

How to Keep a Fire Pit from Rusting

rusting fire pit

Rust is a common issue with fire pits that affects their appearance and durability. However, you can take preventative measures to keep your fire pit rust-free and enjoy its beauty and warmth for a long time.

Here are some effective ways to protect your fire pit from rusting:

Use a Protective Coating

A protective coating is one of the best measures for preventing rust formation on your fire pit. After use, you can find different types of coatings, such as high-temperature paint, clear coat, and oiling. 

High-temperature paint has a natural internal heat barrier, enabling it to withstand the fire’s heat and providing a durable protective layer.

On the other hand, a clear coat seals the surface, preventing moisture from reaching the metal. After each use, oiling the fire pit forms a barrier against rust. Painting the fire pit is also essential for its protection.

Use a Layer of Sand or Gravel in the Base

metal fire pit rusting

You can use a layer of sand or gravel at the base of your fire pit to prevent rust formation. Sand absorbs excess water, reducing the chances of rust by preventing pooling on the metal surface. 

Gravel, on the other hand, acts as a protective barrier and enhances drainage. It minimizes the risk of erosion and moisture damage. 

Incorporating sand or gravel into the base creates a barrier between the metal and moisture, preserving the integrity of your fire pit. 

Clean Out Your Fire Pit Regularly

If you don’t want to see rust form on your fire pit, cleaning it regularly is essential. Ashes left in the pit can absorb moisture, leading to corrosion and damage. 

Empty all the ashes from your fire pit after each use to prevent deterioration. My post on what to do with the ash gives ideas for other uses around the home.

Use a Waterproof Cover or Pit Cover When Stored

rusty fire pit

You must cover your fire pit with a waterproof cover to protect it from rust, particularly if you store it outside. Waterproof covers prevent moisture from seeping into the fire pit, which can lead to rust over time.

A cover will keep water, animals, and UV rays away from the pit, further safeguarding it. Fire pit brands sometimes offer covers included, or you can purchase them separately. 

Store Your Fire Pit Out of the Weather

Another factor preventing rust formation is storing your fire pit out of the weather when it is not in use. Consider storing it indoors in a garage or a garden shed to protect it from rain, snow, and other weather elements. Keeping your fire pit dry and shielded from moisture can help ensure its durability and longevity.

Elevate Your Fire Pit

outdoor steel fire pit rusting

Elevating your fire pit off the ground can help prevent rust from accumulating. Use loose bricks or stone pavers underneath the base to raise the height of the fire pit. 

Because the fire pit is raised up, it’s less likely for rust to gather under it. This prevents lasting damage from rust, as being higher up allows for better air circulation.

Oil Your Fire Pit

An effective way of protecting your fire pit from rust and corrosion is to apply vegetable oil. Spread a thin layer of oil with a cloth over the entire fire pit. Ensure the coating is thin enough to avoid buildup or burning when the fire pit is lit.

Vegetable cooking oils like canola oil or olive oil are effective for this purpose. Oiling creates a protective barrier, preventing moisture from reaching the metal and keeping it free from rust.

Avoid Dousing it with Water

fire pit rusted

Water accelerates the process of rusting. Therefore, you should avoid dousing your fire pit with water to put it out. Instead, use methods like covering the fire with sand or using an extinguishing product designed for fire pits.

Already have rust in your fire pit? Learn how to remove rust and restore your fire pit.

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Keep Fire Pit From Rusting

Here are some common questions about keeping a fire pit from rusting, and their answers.

What causes fire pits to rust?

Fire pits rust because of several causes, like prolonged exposure to moisture, humidity, and the elements. The cause of rust is primarily the reaction between the steel or iron in the fire pit and oxygen in the water or moisture, leading to iron oxide, known as rust.

Can you repair a rusted fire pit?

Yes, you can repair a rusted fire pit to some extent. You can remove superficial rust by scrubbing the area with a wire brush or sandpaper until you reach the bare metal. Later, you can apply a rust-resistant primer or paint to prevent further rusting and restore its appearance.

How do I stop my fire pit from rusting?

You can stop your fire pit from rusting by regularly maintaining it. Clean it out after each use, oil the fire pit, use a waterproof cover, and store it in a dry place when not in use.

What is the best finish for a fire pit?

The best finish for a fire pit depends on the material it is made of. High-temperature paint or powder coating is recommended for iron or steel pits. These finishes can withstand the heat from the fire and act as a barrier against corrosion and rust. However, clear lacquer or metal-specific sealants are better if your fire pit is made of copper or other non-ferrous metals.

Can you use WD-40 on a fire pit?

You can use WD-40 on a fire pit to help remove flash rust. However, it is not a long-term solution for preventing rust. WD-40 is a multi-purpose lubricant and water displacement spray. Although it can temporarily inhibit rust formation, its protective effect will wear off quickly, especially when exposed to high temperatures.

How many years does a fire pit last?

The lifespan of a fire pit depends on the quality of materials, construction, maintenance, and frequency of use. Also, the longevity of your fire pit depends on how you take care of it. However, exposure to harsh weather conditions, neglecting regular maintenance, or using poor-quality materials can significantly reduce the lifespan of a fire pit.

What is the best material for an outdoor fire pit?

The best material for an outdoor fire pit is stainless steel, as it offers excellent resistance to rust and corrosion, durability, and can withstand high temperatures. Furthermore, cast iron is also a good option, as it is sturdy and has heat-retention properties. However, it requires regular maintenance. Other materials, such as copper, aluminum, and natural stone, can also be used.


Properly caring for your fire pit prevents rust and ensures its longevity. You can keep your fire pit in excellent condition by choosing the right material, applying a protective coating, regularly cleaning, maintaining it, and storing it properly during winter. Using a fire pit cover will provide an extra layer of protection. 

With these steps, you can enjoy cozy nights by the fire without worrying about rusting.

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