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Omaha Magazine

The $5 Fire Pit

Oct 05, 2014 09:00AM ● By Kristen Hoffman

My quest for fire began with a quick perusal of Craigslist. Nothing free that day, but in the “materials” section, I found limestone offered for essentially free: “$10 a truckload.” My mostly shelled-out 1997 Chevy Tahoe can haul some rock, so I called the number.

The fellow had a pile from an old building foundation in the back corner of his sprawling salvage lot a little north of the old Stockyards. When I arrived, he opened his gate and directed me about 100 yards back to a weed-covered pile of rock and dirt about 100 feet from railroad tracks.

It was heavy work loading the rock. We negotiated a deal: Since my Tahoe didn’t haul as much as a half-ton, I got each load for $5. I hauled four loads. The retaining wall I was building used three loads. The firepit only required one of the loads of rock.

So, this is a $5 fire pit. If you keep a sharp eye on Craigslist and are willing to do some heavy lifting, you could easily build your own fire pit for free. For me, the hunt for the rock was an adventure. Also, I’m cheap. I love a good deal. And this is perhaps the best deal I’ve ever landed.

After hunting down and hauling the rock or bricks you desire, determine the size and location of your pit. I used the round top of our outdoor table as a template. Its 5-foot circumference seemed about right. When picking your site, make sure you’re not too close to structures or trees. It’s a fire, after all.

Dig a circular pit about 12 inches deep. I filled my pit with about two inches of white limestone gravel. Once I leveled everything, I lined the pit with firebrick I had picked up earlier for—you guessed it —free on Craigslist.

Here is the hard part, depending on how uneven or mismatched your limestone chunks are. Although fairly substantial with an interesting texture and color, my blocks were varying heights and widths. It may take you several tries to get your two or three layers of stones even (or relatively so) and secure.

Finally, go back to the “free” section of Omaha Craigslist. There’s almost always somebody offering free firewood somewhere in the city.