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Hearth Warming

Warming Trend

Once the weather turns cooler, entertaining alfresco becomes less of an option-unless you have an outdoor fireplace. CFM Specialty Home Products offers several models suited to a variety of environments, and functioning with either gas or wood (myownbbq.com). Also consider the Oasis from Lennox Hearth Products, a wood burner with a large viewing area and stainless-steel screens (lennoxhearthproducts.com). And remember: When installing a fireplace, hire a certified professional. For fireplace surrounds, contact the Mason Contractors of America (masoncontractors.org).

Chimeneas are an inexpensive alternative to outdoor fireplaces.

Editor's Picks: Firepits
Smith & Hawken backyard firepit. This classic firepit's extra-thick copper basin (24″ dia.) makes it durable, while its light weight makes it portable. Do not use on flammable surfaces. (29 lbs.; smithandhawken.com).

Unique Arts 30″-high copper firepit. Because the solid-copper bowl is raised, the flame is elevated, making this pit perfect for decks or wooden surfaces. Includes a shelf and steel grill for barbecuing (35 lbs.; exterior-accents.com).

Frontgate outdoor copper firepit. At 40″W x 9″D, this pit can hold large logs, for a longer-burning fire. A deep basin helps contain ashes and a wrought-iron base keeps the basin stable (66 lbs.; frontgate.com).

Fire Pointers

Step 1: Build a base.
Newspaper "wands" work well. Take a sheet and roll it from one corner to the other, tying it with twine. Make a half-dozen of these and lay them on the grate.

Step 2: Add some kindling.
Cross about a dozen dry twigs (those the diameter of your thumb are best) in the grate on top of the newspaper.

Step 3: Stack the logs.
Seasoned wood, or logs that have dried for at least six months, should be loosely placed in the grate, allowing for air space.

Step 4: Open the damper.
Now roll another wand, light it, and touch it to the newspaper in the grate. Immediately replace or close the screen. Remember, never leave a fire unattended.

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