If you look up instructions for building a fire pit, you can see that the number of choices for materials and different instructions for building can be confusing and overwhelming. One question I had was about fire brick. Some people say it’s a must and some skip it. So, do I have to use fire brick in a fire pit or not?

Fire brick is optional when building a fire pit, but it depends on the rest of the materials you are using to build your pit. Some types of stone, masonry bricks, and compressed concrete can degrade or explode when exposed to the intense heat of a campfire. Fire brick is designed to hold up to high temperatures and lining your fire pit with it will ensure safety and extend the life of your pit.

Read on to get more information about why you would want to use fire brick when building your pit, or not, and another alternative!

*I get a commission every time you purchase a product through my affiliate link below. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Do you need to use fire brick for your fire pit?

There are a few things to ask yourself to answer this question:

A stack of fire bricks outdoors
Fire bricks

1. Are you using a fire pit insert or liner?

Fire pit inserts are made of steel and are designed to hold up to extreme temperatures. So, if you are using a fire pit insert you DO NOT need fire brick.

Fire pit inserts and fire brick pretty much do the same job so only one is necessary.

2. Are you worried about how your fire pit materials will hold up and their safety?

One reason you would want to use fire brick is if you are worried about how well your fire pit will hold up to the extreme heat of a campfire (which is over 1400 degrees farenheit).

Some common materials people use to build their backyard pits are bricks, landscape pavers, hard stone like granite or flagstone, or poured cinder block. These materials will absolutely work for a backyard fire pit with or without fire brick lining the inside.

However, fire brick holds up much better to the extreme heat of a campfire. Building a diy fire pit with bricks, cinder blocks, and some types of stone may cause it to crumble and degrade, shortening the life of your fire pit. Also, there is no guarantee that pavers, regular bricks, blocks, or stones won’t trap water and gasses inside that will heat up, not be able to escape, and explode.

If you are using a material listed above on the inside of your pit and no fire brick or insert, the odds of someone getting hurt at your campfire are very small, so this is where you need to figure out what you are personally comfortable with.

  • If you generally like to take the safe route then you should line your fire pit with fire bricks and not have to worry about it.
  • If you are positive you are using fire-safe materials and don’t mind a bit of risk, you can skip the fire brick liner.

We all have a level of risk we are comfortable with. Choose which feels right for you.

*Safety note – compressed concrete block should never be used to make a fire pit as there is a higher chance of explosion. Limestone, sandstone, river rock and pea gravel also have no business near your pit for the same reason.

*If you choose to use fire bring and are struggling to find fire brick or refractory cement in your area, you can have fire brick shipped right to your door here and you can find the refractory cement here.

3. Am I more interested in saving money or extending the life of my fire pit?

Couple with their feet on a fire pit with a fire in it, enjoying hot cocoa.

If you either aren’t concerned about the life of your fire pit, or you simply don’t have a lot of money to invest in one, make sure that you are using fire-safe materials and skip the fire bricks.

If you have a little more money to spend on your pit up front and are more concerned about extending the life of your fire pit, use the fire bricks and think of it as an investment in your build.

They are an investment upfront but fire bricks may offer many more years of use from your pit in the long run. The choice is yours.

4. Can you find fire bricks?

One major question you need to ask yourself is where you can find fire bricks in your area. This may have a pretty big impact on your price.

If you live in a city that has a hardware store, check there first as sometimes you can find them much cheaper than you can online. Ask if they can order you some in if they don’t have any in stock.

If not, you can find them online. They are even conveniently on Amazon where you can buy multi-packs of fire brick. Check here to see the current price.

How many fire bricks do I need?

A fire pit at night with a fire in it.

Obviously, it depends on the size and shape of your fire pit, but according to you will need 25 fire bricks for a 3′ diameter pit. also recommends planning the size of your fire pit around your fire bricks so you have to make as few cuts in your bricks as possible, saving you time and effort!

Fire bricks are used standing tall with the short side on the ground. The fire bricks that I highlighted here on Amazon are 4.5″ on the short side. I wanted to give you some size options so you know how many you will need:

Diameter of Inside Ring of Fire PitNumber of Fire Bricks Needed

When constructing your fire brick liner, you want to have as tight of joints as possible

What type of mortar to use with fire brick

So if you decide to go with a fire brick liner, what kind of mortar should you use?

There is a specific type of mortar just for this purpose and it is called refractory cement, designed specifically to hold up to high heat conditions. Don’t skimp on this as you will be setting your fire pit up to crumble quickly. It comes in different colors so make sure you are purchasing a color that you think will look nice with the materials you’re using for your pit.

The refractory cement only needs to be used with the fire brick on the inner ring, not on the entire pit. You can ask your local hardware store if they have it, or if they can order it in for you.

If you don’t have a hardware store in your area you can order it online. Amazon carries refractory cement and you can check the price here.

Fire pit-the easy route

If all of this seems like way too much work and too many decisions, check with your local hardware store about a fire pit kit!

Kits come with all of the cutting, and decisions made for you. Most of the kits are dry stack which means that you don’t even need to add mortar or cement!

Many of the fire pit kits I have seen have a very “high-end” look, come in several different shapes, styles, and colors, and will look spectacular in your backyard!

You can also have a fire pit shipped right to your door. Titan Great Outdoors makes extremely high-quality fire pits and you can see a selection of them here.

*If you choose to use fire bring and are struggling to find fire brick or refractory cement in your area, you can have fire brick shipped right to your door here and you can find the refractory cement here.

Good luck building your custom fire pit, and have fun at your next campfire!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Love cooking outdoors? That may be a sign that you need to add this heavy-duty, stainless-steel adjustable cooking grate from Titan Great Outdoors to your tool kit! Mine is wonderful and has an incredibly sturdy feel. Because it’s adjustable, you’ll be less likely to end up with charred food, and the drip tray for grease keeps flare-ups to a minimum. Take a look here!

Read our article about making a diy retaining wall block fire pit!

You may also enjoy our other articles:

14 Good Campfire Games That Will Win the Night that you can find here

How Many Brick Pavers You Need for your Fire Pit read here

Cat is a nature lover who wants to help you make the most of your family and friend time in the great outdoors by offering helpful tips about fire pits, backyard activities, and camping. Learn more about Cat here.