Frugal Family

DIY Fire Pit

Recently there have been a few posts floating around Pinterest and Facebook showing people who have turned old washing machine drums into fire pits. We tend to BBQ a lot over the summer months, and we spend a lot of time in the garden (all year round) gardening and relaxing. We were wanting to buy a fire pit, but without a huge budget we were limited to what we could actually afford. All we wanted was something that we could sit around to keep warm during the evenings, and that we could also cook on occasionally. Many shop bought fire pits are not only costly (The cheapest one we saw was around £30 and the most expensive was just short of £200!), but are not also made suitable for cooking on.

So, I took to Freecycle and found an old battered washing machine that had lived outdoors for a while. The seller told me it was still working, and would make a great work-horse for the shed. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I would be smashing it up. A friend of mine turned an old washing machine into a fire-pit that they also regularly cook on, so I asked her for advice in how the best way to smash it open to retrieve the drum would be. She told me “brute force”. Simples.

Once we had got the washing machine back to ours, my back garden resembled a scrap yard (and the language that I was expelling could also similarly be found on a scarp yard, as I was becoming frustrated with my lack of this ‘brute force’ that my friend told me about.) But, once I got my husband and his sledge hammer involved we quickly had the drum freed from it case… and a surprising amount of concrete that was also surrounding the drum, now shattered all over the garden. We later used a big lump of the concrete to stand the drum on, to keep it off of the ground when in use.

We couldn’t wait to fire up the drum, and my dad got the honours of being the first person to light it. The drum worked perfectly, and as night fell we were actually complaining of being too hot, awkwardly shuffling our bodies further away from the fire. I used our old BBQ grill to rest on top of the drum, and cooked a quick supper as a ‘dinner test’, that was simply tinned spaghetti and toast. If you’ve never toasted bread over a fire before, give it a go. There’s something very therapeutic about it.

The great thing about the drum is that it is so light! It can easily be moved from place to place around the garden, or slung into the back of the car for camping trips. My dad also noticed that there was 3 evenly spaced holes on the top of the drum. He suggested that we fix some metal poles into them and join some chain between all 3, to hang a kettle or cooking pot onto. That will be our first modification to the drum. My husband also wants to files some grooves into the top rim to stop our BBQ grill from slipping about when cooking.

So, all in all, the fire pit didn’t cost us a penny (except for the £2.50’s worth of petrol that we used picking it up), and a couple of grazed fingers.

Washing Machine fire pit


Hazel Newhouse

Hazel is a mum to 3 daughters and a son, she lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, kids and pets. Hazel has written for various publications, and regularly works alongside popular parenting and gardening brands.

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