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Something about plastics and electronics sitting at the edge of a fire may alarm you — it did me.
But, by Jove, BioLite’s FirePit is a masterfully-engineered contraption built to foster, contain, and withstand the hottest little blaze you can muster, which, thanks to the fan, you can tend all night from the same seat without a single faceful of smoke. If that isn’t at least a small miracle, I don’t know what is.
The Bluetooth-connected, USB-charged fan, by the way, is what sets the FirePit apart. It hooks up to the side of the wire mesh cage (enabling a 360° view of your glorious flame within) and blows air through two hole-riddled tubes to create a vortex for optimal fuel burning and almost no smoke.
On the subject of fuel, the FirePit burns both charcoal and wood, each with astounding efficiency. The only adjustments you’ll want to make when switching between the two is lowering the fuel rack for wood and raising it for charcoal (and maybe for cooking), and tossing on the grill grate when you want to cook.
Out of the box, it’s recommended by BioLite that your first fire be a wood fire. This builds a layer of ash in the basin, which, they say, makes the perfect base for charcoal fires. I can confirm they’re not wrong.
We started out with nothing but a bit of paper, a few precious drops of lighter fluid, some very wet wood, and not a whole lot of hope. We’d get a corner of a besotted piece of wood lit just barely before it would flicker out. After a few tries and no lasting luck, we affixed the electronic fan and got it rolling, from which point on we didn’t even need to touch the thing.
Once you get your fire rolling reasonably well, all you have to do is connect your phone to the BioLite app and watch, perhaps in awe, as the size of your flame corresponds almost instantaneously to the swipe of your finger (or thumb) upon your screen.
The FirePit can hold about eight pieces of cordwood, which might not sound like much, but burning as optimally as it does, is plenty.
Once you’re done with your fire, turn the fan off and take it inside. While it may survive rain or snow if the electronic ports are properly capped, you may want to charge it anyhow. As for the FirePit itself, make sure the fire and embers are out before attaching the cover and calling it a night or carrying on with further endeavors.
Perhaps as heartwarming as their wildly futuristic fire basin is BioLite Energy’s humanitarian endeavor to bring heat and light to off-grid households around the world. To date, they’ve either illuminated, heated, or otherwise equipped, by their estimates, some 300,000 people around the world to date. They also have offices in Uganda, Kenya, India, in addition to their Brooklyn, New York headquarters, which is fun, but respectably modest, I ought to add.
You could do a lot worse — though hardly any better, I’m convinced — for a small outdoor fire pit or grill than the BioLite FirePit, especially in an urban or suburban setting where outdoor space is limited and large plums of smoke from traditional fire pits are cause for alarm, if not a visit from some faction of your local authorities.
Thanks in large part to how easy it was to control the flame, cooking was a breeze:
Cooking with the BioLite FirePit was a delightful breeze. I found it a relaxing relegation of duty to sit several yards from my production, effortlessly (and somehow familiarly) swiping left or right to tamp or fan my flame.
I was able to sit back and entertain while still keeping an eye on everything. I might not be the most technologically inclined millennial on this planet, but there is a lot to be said for a remote-controlled campfire and stove (in effect). Between tossing things on and pulling them off, I never once had to come within arm’s length of the FirePit, and certain dishes that I felt would be better off contained in a skillet cooked wonderfully — especially the marinated tuna belly, which I was afraid might fall apart if placed directly on the grate.
In short, the BioLite FirePit fan gets things roaring in a flash whether you’re using charcoal or wood, though BioLite does advise (and I agree) that having a good base of wood-fire coals makes this little thing shine.
It’s going to live in my backyard for the winter, and on my boat this summer for island hopping and fish frying, when I’ll probably put it through hell and report back with more.
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