There are significant, distinct differences between a wood burning fire pit and a natural gas fire pit.
Let’s start with the pros and cons of wood burning fire pits. The big plus is quick, easy, drop in solutions. You can dig a hole in the ground, line with stone or brick, and burn wood. You can also purchase a wide variety of wood burning fire pits ranging from clay, metal chimeneas, or large-scale stone, marble, or granite fire pits. If you are in a rural location with a ready supply of wood to burn, you are in good shape.
Now let’s discuss some of the potential negatives. The first is fire safety. If you are burning wood, you cannot leave the fire unattended, and reasonable attention to prevent embers from floating out of the fire pit and landing on combustible material – a "fire watch”. It is also a good idea to place a hearth pad, or brick as a base for a wood-burning unit. Adequate clearance from combustibles is also required. Smoke gets in your eyes – as the wind shifts someone around the campfire is getting smoked out.
So in considering a wood burning fire pit there are wonderful campfire memories and crackling wood sounds and it is an easy to implement solution. Hearth pads, screens, covers, and personal attention are required to make this an enjoyable experience.
Natural gas fire pits have grown tremendously as components to outdoor living rooms. The major advantage is convenience and a 99% clean burn. No combustible particulates added to the environment, and your neighbors, if close by, never complain. The big advantage is also the downside for purists – not a real fire. Over the last several years’ great strides have been made with realistic ceramic logs, and realistic flame patterns. Nonetheless, it is a simulated wood fire and generally a more planned and expensive solution.
There are some spectacular gas supplied fire pits on the market that are pieces of art that greatly add to the beauty of the view and outdoor patio setting. The woodsman and purists generally select wood burning fire pits. The busy professionals who value convenience gravitate to natural gas fire pits.