All About Lava Rocks for Propane Fire Pit

Lava rock is an excellent material for gas fire pits because lava rocks not only look good but also provide an excellent heat barrier and insulation. Lava rocks can come in many different colours, including red lava rocks or black lava rocks.

This post will answer all your questions about lava rocks for propane fire pits, such as where lava rock comes from? How do you set up lava on a gas fire pit? What type of heat resistant stones are there for propane fire pits?

What Are Lava Rocks?

Lava rocks are volcanic rocks or basalts. It is a type of igneous rock that eventually cools down. In Latin, the word Ignis means fire. Igneous rocks are generated when molten lava or magma within the earth flows out of a volcano and cools. They solidify on the earth’s surface.

These rocks are processed and turned into lava rocks for fire pits. They look like a solidified sponge with pores. Air and gas can easily flow through these pores. Thus, it enhances the flame of the fire pit and evenly distributes the heat.

How Is Lava Rock Used In Fire Pits

You may wonder why lava rocks are so fascinating. Lava rocks are best suited for propane gas fire pits. There are many reasons to use lava rocks, which we will discuss later in detail. Lava rocks are super-heat tolerant, and they evenly distribute the fire heat.

Thus, lava rocks protect the burner from extreme heat. Besides, they look beautiful when they flame on in the fire pit. So, how are lava rocks used in fire pits?

Holding a Lava Rock
Holding a Lava Rock Photo by https://www.twenty20.com/photos/

You have to arrange the lava rocks systematically on your fire pit. It can be a fire bowl or a fire table; you should put the rocks carefully because lava rocks can contain dirt and debris. Small particles can get into the jet and block the flame.

To arrange clean lava rocks, you can do two things.

  • Firstly, pick rocks one by one and place them on the fire pit. Clean them if they contain dust.
  • Secondly, wash the lava rocks before arranging them. Let them dry properly for an hour, and then put them on the fire pit.

Their heat insulation and heat retaining properties make them perfect for fire pits. They are long-lasting and safe. Lava rocks are not just heated tolerant. They also waterproof your fire pit. Above all, it enhances the aesthetic value of a fire pit. Lava rocks give a natural look at the burning fire. They are clean and do not have to be maintained often.

Step-by-step guide:

If you are placing lave rocks for the first time, you probably have a lot of things to ask about them. So, here are some common questions about using lava rocks on your fire pit.

Using Lava Rocks in a Propane Fire Pit: Where do I place them?

You can put lava rocks directly on the base of the fire pit. The small pieces of rocks should be on the bottom layer because they will fit together. But it is better to have a layer of sand or pea gravel on the bottom of the fire pit first. The rocks on the upper layer will get some stability.

Then place the rocks around or over the burner. After starting the fire, you may also cover the burner with lava rocks with a fireplace poker or a firewood tong.

 How deep should I set my lava rock?

How deep you should set the rocks depends on the model of your fire pit. It varies based on the depth, width, and fire ring style of the fire pit.

From the base to the crest of the burner, the rocks should be 2 to 4 inches deep. It is necessary to read the manual of your propane fire pit to see any specific information about using lava rocks.

Some jet burners need to be uncovered. Putting rocks over them will obstruct the fire. So, the lava rocks should not cover the burner. Lava rocks can surround other fire pit burners. However, the burner must be only half an inch below the lava rocks.

How much lava rock do I need, exactly?

Not all types of fire pits require the same amount of lava rock. Moreover, the shapes and sizes of lava rock also vary. Since there are several varieties of fire pits, we will go through the most typical fire pit forms and the volume of lava rocks required.

To fill a circular or round fire pit, you have to follow this rule:

Diameter X Width X Depth divided by 24 equals pounds of lava rock needed.

For example, the diameter of your round fire pit is 22 inches, and the depth is 2 inches. So, you will need: 22 X 22 X 2, divided by 24 = 40 lbs. of lava rock.

To fill a rectangular fire pit with lava rocks, follow this equation:

 Diameter X Length X Depth divided by 19 equals pounds of lava rock needed.

To fill up squire fire pits with rocks, follow this rule:

Width X Length X Depth, dividing by 19 equals pounds of lava rock needed.

You can use a lava rock calculator to determine how much lava rock your fire pit will need.

Starting my Lava Rock Fire Pit?

When you finish arranging the lava rocks, check the fire pit by turning on the gas. Some fire pits have an auto-ignition system. If your fire pit is a traditional one, ignite it with a long igniter. The fire should start without any problem.

Since the lava rocks are porous, the gas will have no problem coming through them. You can control the fire using the valve. The fire looks clean and beautiful. If you want to rearrange the rocks while the fire pit is burning, you can use a fireplace poker to move them. However, be gentle with the burning lava rocks. Otherwise, they can fall on the deck or patio.

What type of Fire Pit can you use for Lava Rocks?

Using lava rock is common in outdoor fire pits, fire tables, and fire bowls. Lava rock is best for natural gas or propane gas fire pits.

Propane fire pits emit a lot of heat. Nevertheless, propane fire pits may not uniformly distribute the warmth across the fire pit perimeter. So, people often use lava rocks to spread the warmth evenly. The same goes for natural gas fire pits. The lava rocks also take off some of the load of the fire ring. Hence, the fire pit gets a long-lasting life.

Lava rocks can endure a lot of heat and help manufacture focus on the heat capacity of propane or natural gas fire.

Now you may wonder if you can use lave rocks on wood-burning fire pits. Well, you can do that. But there is no point in burning lava rocks with wood in the fire pit.

It is hard to control the temperature of a wood-burning fire pit. After the fire pit stops burning, you may face difficulty identifying lava rocks and burned logs. Then you have to clean the ashes on the lava rocks. The extreme heat of the wood-burning fire pit can even crack the lava rocks.

The Benefits Of Lava Rock For Propane Fire Pits 

Lava Rock Fire Pit (brick)
Lava Rock Fire Pit (Brick and Mortar) Photo by 9036792 © Cathysbelleimage | Dreamstime.com

There are many benefits to using lava rocks for propane fire pits. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Exceptional heat holding properties of Lava Rocks

 Lava rock ensures heat insulation and prevents heat loss. The lava rocks help to regulate heat and disperse it.

The burner of the fire pit does not have to burn hard to produce excessive heat since the lava rocks retain some of the heat.

Lava Rocks have high heat tolerance. 

So, why do lava rocks have such heat tolerance? They are, after all, made of molten lava. They take shape at super high temperatures.

Thus, they have the components to withstand intense flame and do not get damaged even after continuous burning. Lava rocks also work as a barrier between the excessive surface heat and the fire pit burner. So, the burner does not have to deal with too much heat.

Lava Rocks are Long Lasting and cost-effective.

You do not have to change lava rocks in two to three years because they are durable. They can endure extreme heat and don’t typically crack, and as a consequence, they’re remarkably budget-friendly.

Another bonus, you do not have to buy tons of lava rocks every year. Yet, for the rocks to endure a long time, they must be kept dry and not wet for an extended period.

Lava Rocks Distribute the Flame

Another critical benefit of lava rocks is that they distribute the flame around the fire pit. Without lava rocks, you will see the fire of a propane or gas fire pit shoot upwards.

It does not look nice, and the warmth of the fire does not reach the people gathering around the pit. Lave rocks help to spread the gas evenly and give the flame a natural look.

Waterproofing the Fire Pit

It is not always possible to cover your fire pit timely to protect it from rain. By layering three to four inches thick lava rocks, you can save your fire pit burner. Even if you have not covered the fire pit timely, the lava rocks will bear the rainwater.

Lava rocks are water-resistant. The pores take in the water and lead it to the drainage system of the fire pit.

Where Lava Rocks Come From, and Who Supplies Them? 

Pahoa Hawaii Black Lava Rock
Pāhoa Hawaii Black Lava Rock photo by https://www.twenty20.com/

Lava rocks are thousands of years old. Lava rocks are volcanic rocks. Most of the lava rocks in the USA come from New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and California. The volcanic rocks are gathered and processed to make lava rocks.

Lava rocks are the perfect material for creating that fiery feeling you want in your outdoor space. You can find them at any store that sells fire pits, and they come with many models to choose from!

If you cannot find them locally, then buy them online. You will get the lava rocks at your doorstep. Before you buy your lave rocks, measure how much you need based on your fire pit.

What Are The Many Types Of Lava Rocks On The Market?

Currently, there are many types of lava rocks available in the market for propane and natural gas fire pits. They are available in various shapes, but you can also select a colour that complements your fire pit, such as red, black, or grey. Typically, the size 2 to 4 inches lava rocks are the favourite ones in the market.

The most popular lava rocks in the current market are:

  • All-natural Gas-Pro Lava Rocks
  • American Firegalss Lava Rocks
  • Margo lava Pebbles
  • Midwest Hearth Lava Rock
  • Tumbled Lava Rocks

These lava rocks have different sizes, shapes, and colours. When they burn in the fire pit, they look beautiful and produce clear and smokeless fire.

So here’s a clip from Shaheen Iqbal, an Amazon Services participant. The video offers a brief description of the five finest lava rocks that have already been mentioned.

Shaheen Iqbal. (2020, July 27). Best Lava Rocks For Fire Pit [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqna-fVbH14

Advantages & Disadvantages to Using Lava Rocks as Heat Barrier or Insulation Material in Gas Fire Pits 

As you can guess, lava rocks create a barrier between the burner and the surface. This way, it protects the burner from getting over-heated. Thus, the burner performs better and lasts longer.

Besides, the depth of the lava rock on the fire pit is 2 to 4 inches. It means the rocks also minimize the heat on the bottom of the fire pit. So, your deck or patio is also safe from the heat of the fire pit.

However, there are a few disadvantages of using lava rocks. It is advisable for you to be aware of the problems related to lava rocks to deal with them effectively later on.

One of the main issues with lava rocks is that they can pop and crack in extreme fire heat for some reason. Let us know more about that.

Lava Rock Popping?

On a rainy day, you want to feel the warmth of your fire pit. So, you placed the lava rocks and ignited the fire pit; after a while, you may hear some popping and cracking sounds coming from the fire pit.

Yes, that sound will come from your lave rocks. This problem can happen if you ignite wet lava rocks. The dilemma can be so severe that the rocks can explode.

If you see something like this happening, first you have to move far from the fire pit. If possible, turn off the fire pit as soon as possible. Then, you have to make sure of completely drying the lava stones before you put them back into the fire pit.

Suppose this is not feasible and you have the time. In that case, it is recommended to dry the lava rocks naturally by placing them on the fire pit at low temperatures to eliminate moisture from the interior.

Can I cook on Lava Rocks?

Since lava rocks produce so much heat, is it possible to cook on lava rocks? The answer is yes. It is safe to cook and grill over lava rocks.

The lava rocks of the fire pits distribute the heat of the flame evenly. Moreover, it helps the fire pit to have more heat, which is excellent for barbeque and grilling meat. Lave rocks get heated fast so that you can cook quite quickly as well.

However, you must make sure to keep the food from dripping on the lava rocks and the burner. The oil and food can damage by blocking the propane fire pit’s fire jets and drainage system. Besides, burnt food and oil will produce a nasty smell.

Some people complain that the food gets a bad smell from propane fire gas after cooking. It can happen because of the carbon monoxide of the propane gas. Also, you must clean the lava rocks and the burner before you cook or grill. Dirty burners and rocks can contain bacteria that will cause serious health issues.

Alternative Materials For Lava Rock Propane Fire Pit 

You may not like the style of lava rocks. That is okay because many people use different fire mediums for their propane fire pits and fire tables. They even use fire stones and fire glass. Among these alternative materials for your fire pit, you can consider using Fire glass.

Decorative Fire Glass

Fire Glass
Blue Fire Glass photo by https://unsplash.com/@creatd

Using fire glass is the best way to personalize your propane fire pit. There are several shades, shapes, sizes, and styles to choose from. If you’d instead not use lava rocks, these are an ideal option.

Fire glass is specially made for fire pits and fireplaces; it’s decorative glass media that enhance the beauty of the fire pit. To make the glass heat resistant, the manufacturers put the glass through a tempering process.

These fire glasses do not melt and do not produce odourless smoke. The sharp edges of the classes are also filed down to make blunt. Thus, they become even safer to touch and move on the fire pit.

The fire glass reflects the light of the fire and creates a shimmering effect. As a result, the fire pits appear to be aesthetically beautiful to guests.

Fire glass is not only best for decorative purposes. Like lava rocks, it also spreads the heat of the fire peat evenly, and the fire looks naturally fuller. So, fire glass changes the unattractive flame of the burner and makes it more attractive.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for reading this lava rock propane fire pit article. We hope that the information provided has been helpful and informative to you as a lava rocks enthusiast or looking into purchasing one of these units.

We wish you the best “Lava Rock Propane Fire Pit” experience.

Sources of Information

American Fire Glass. (n.d.). Fire Glass & Lava Rock Calculator | How Much Fire Glass Do I Need? Americanfireglass.Com. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from https://americanfireglass.com/calculator

J. (2021, September 13). Lava Rock & Fire Pits: Should You Use It? Sunshine & Play. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from https://sunshineandplay.com/lava-rock-fire-pits-should-you-use-it/

Hale, M. (n.d.). Can You Use Lava Rocks in a Wood Burning Fire Pit? Yardsumo.Com. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from https://yardsumo.com/can-you-use-lava-rocks-in-a-wood-burning-fire-pit/

Fact, F. (2021, September 4). How to Use Lava Rocks for A Fire Pit. Fireplace Fact. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from https://www.fireplacefact.com/blog/how-to-use-lava-rocks/

K, C. (2021, October 11). What is Fire Glass? Fire Glass FAQs. Fire Pits Direct Blog. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from https://www.firepitsdirect.com/blog/what-is-fire-glass-fire-glass-faqs

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