The Best Tabletop Fire Pits Tested in 2023

Create a dramatic and elegant centerpiece, indoors or outdoors, with one of the best tabletop fire pits.

By Jasmine Harding and Mark Wolfe | Updated Jun 27, 2023 10:04 PM

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The Best Tabletop Fire Pit Options

Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

Tabletop fire pits, also called tabletop fireplaces, provide the cozy aesthetic and charm of a crackling fire but in a small and portable footprint. These compact fire pits are designed to sit atop of a table as an eye-catching centerpiece. Not only do they add a bit of light and warmth, but a decorative fire pit can also add a sense of grandeur to a patio or dining room table. With indoor and outdoor options, a tabletop fire pit can be the creative spark your space needs.

Shoppers have a wide array of tabletop fire pit types and styles to consider, depending on where and how they plan to use them. We vetted more than 40 models before testing the following products for indoor and outdoor use, including types fueled by gas, gel, liquid, and wood. If you’re ready to create a cozy and inviting lounging or dining space, we invite you to continue reading our reviews of the best tabletop fire pits.

  1. BEST OVERALL INDOOR: TerraFlame Wave Tabletop Fire Bowl
  2. BEST OVERALL OUTDOOR: Solo Stove Mesa Tabletop Fire Pit
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Colsen Indoor/Outdoor Round Tabletop Fire Pit
  4. BEST PROPANE: Endless Summer GLT1343SP LP Gas Outdoor Fire Column
  5. BEST GEL: TerraFlame Geo Tabletop Fire Bowl
  6. BEST DESIGN: Orren Ellis Craddock Bio-Ethanol Tabletop Fireplace
  7. BEST FIRE BOWL: TerraFlame Stone Tabletop Fire Bowl
  8. BEST PORTABLE: City Bonfires Portable Tabletop Fire Pit
  9. BEST FOR PATIO TABLES: Bond Manufacturing 50856N Tabletop Fire Bowl
  10. BEST LOW-PROFILE: Singry Bio-Ethanol Outdoor Tabletop Fireplace
The Best Tabletop Fire Pit Options

Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

How We Tested the Best Tabletop Fire Pits

The best tabletop fire pits are attractive, easy to set up, and safe to use. After researching the specs and customer feedback on dozens of tabletop fire pits, we selected the following great options to test in our backyard trials.

Since style is subjective, we chose tabletop fireplaces in a range of designs, making sure to include various shapes, sizes, materials, and colors to suit different decor styles. We prioritized fire pits with various finish options, which makes it easier to match the fire pit to existing decor.

We assembled and fueled each fire pit according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Then we lit them and noted the flame color and size, flame movement, perceived heating ability, and burn times per fuel load. In addition to the functional characteristics, we considered convenience factors. Ease of installation, accessibility of fuel, and broader functionality garnered extra points. These notes from our research and testing were tallied on a rubric to determine the award titles.

Our Top Picks

In the product reviews ahead, we outline the construction of each fire pit, share performance details from our tests, and relate any concerns that shoppers should be aware of before purchasing. Follow along and find out if one of our favorites may be the best tabletop fire pit to spruce up your patio or dining table.

Best Overall

The Best Tabletop Fire Pit Option: TerraFlame Wave Tabletop Fire Bowl

With a beautiful and versatile design plus a charming crackling fire, the TerraFlame Wave fire bowl is the best tabletop fireplace for contemporary homes. This portable fireplace is hand cast from organic concrete (which won’t get hot to the touch) and features a subtle, waved design inspired by the slope of ocean waves. It comes in various finishes, and the simplistic aesthetic gives this fire bowl a modern touch that will suit many indoor and outdoor spaces.

This tabletop fireplace is safe to use both inside and outside, and its relatively modest footprint means it can be used on most tables. It uses a gel fuel canister, which doesn’t just light up the bowl but also features a crackling sound to mimic the ambience of a campfire. Each clean-burning fuel canister offers up to 3 hours of burn time to brighten up a seating area or roast marshmallows for s’mores.

The TerraFlame Wave tabletop fire bowl was the right size for our small and midsize tables, and it made an excellent dining table centerpiece. It produced a bright flame that looked great. The heavy-duty bowl felt sturdy and safe when we used it inside, and it burned well outdoors, although the small flame was battered by all but the gentlest breezes. The proprietary fuel added a nice bit of movement and sound that is not typical of regular gel fuel fires. We only caution those with glass tabletops that this one is hard and heavy—use caution when placing it.

Product Specs

  • Indoor/outdoor: Indoor or outdoor
  • Fuel type: Gel fuel
  • Dimensions: 10.625 inches in diameter by 5.125 inches tall


  • Simple, balanced design complements contemporary modern decor
  • Sturdy concrete fire bowl does not get hot to the touch
  • Includes gel fuel canister that produces a crackling flame


  • Small ornamental flame might not be adequate for gatherings of more than 4 guests
  • Produces very little heat, not suitable for warming of chilly outdoor gatherings

Get the TerraFlame Wave tabletop fire pit at Amazon, Target, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, or TerraFlame

Best Overall Outdoor

The Best Tabletop Fire Pit Option: Solo Stove Mesa Tabletop Fire Pit

For a traditional fire pit experience, you can’t beat the sight, sound, and smell of a wood fire. The wood-burning Solo Stove Mesa tabletop fire pit offers the fun and romance of a real wood fire in a compact size. It is made of durable 304 stainless steel that will not rust or corrode and features a smokeless dual-wall design. It offers all the benefits of a wood fire without the smoke, and comes in either a stainless steel finish or a choice of five ceramic color finishes.

This is an outdoor-only fire pit that is safe to use on all kinds of tabletops with no risk of heat damage. It burns either small pieces of firewood or wood pellet fuel. Burn time varies by the fuel type and size, averaging about 45 minutes when loaded with wood pellets. The package includes the main burn chamber, flame ring, foldable base, and a drawstring bag for clean and easy transport.

Although building the wood fire took a little longer than lighting a gas, gel, or liquid fuel fire pit, we loved the authentic experience. The Solo Stove Mesa produced the biggest, most lively flame by far of all the tabletop fire pits we tested. Within minutes of lighting, a beautiful flame reached up to 12 inches above the rim. It burned almost entirely smoke-free, as advertised, and was one of the most wind-resistant of all the fire pits we tested.

There are two points that shoppers will want to keep in mind with this one. You must feed the fire regularly, so it’s important to keep extra pellets or firewood nearby. Also, although the lower portion of the fire pit remains cool, the upper two-thirds becomes dangerously hot to touch.

Product Specs 

  • Indoor/outdoor: Outdoor
  • Fuel type: Firewood or wood pellets
  • Dimensions: 7 inches in diameter (XL) by 8.6 inches tall


  • Offers an authentic wood fire experience with almost no smoke
  • Works with either small pieces of firewood or wood pellet fuel
  • Compact size limits the burn time to about 45 minutes after adding pellets
  • Kit includes the burn chamber, flame ring, collapsable stand, and a drawstring carry bag


  • The sides and rim of the fire pit become dangerously hot during the fire
  • The fire must be fed frequently to maintain a big bright flame

Get the Solo Stove tabletop fire pit at Best Buy, Solo Stove, Scheels, Nomadic Supply Company, or

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Tabletop Fire Pit Option: Colsen Indoor Outdoor Round Tabletop Fire Pit

If dealing with bioethanol fuels or propane tanks sounds like too much work, the Colsen fire pit is worth considering. All this little fire pit needs to run is a bit of 70 percent or 91 percent isopropyl alcohol. Its design couldn’t be simpler; made of concrete, it has a small central reservoir that you fill with alcohol and light aflame. The alcohol burns off slowly, providing around 40 minutes of flickering fire, which is perfect for setting the mood or roasting a few marshmallows.

Suited for both indoor and outdoor use, this mini fire pit measures 5 inches in diameter by 3.5 inches tall, and it is an ultraportable option. However, due to its open fuel reservoir and lightweight design, you’ll want to take extra care and use a sturdy base to avoid jostling or spilling the contents.

This was truly one of the easiest and most accessible fire pits we tested. The fuel (over-the-counter rubbing alcohol) is readily available at any grocery, hardware, home improvement, or drug store. Load it, light it, and let it burn. We recorded burn times of 35 to 50 minutes. The flame color was more yellow than that of the bioethanol burners, which gave it a warmer appearance, but the burn time was shorter. It’s also important to note that the flame must be extinguished before adding more fuel for additional burn time.

Product Specs

  • Indoor/outdoor: Indoor or outdoor
  • Fuel type: Isopropyl alcohol
  • Dimensions: 5 inches in diameter by 3.5 inches tall


  • Compact and sturdy design is tabletop stable and works indoors or out
  • One of the simplest tabletop fire pits we tested; easy to fuel and easy to operate
  • Uses budget-friendly and easy-to-find rubbing alcohol for fuel


  • With no protective cover, the flame is easily extinguished in the wind
  • Open fuel reservoir requires close attention to prevent fuel spills

Get the Colsen tabletop fire pit at Amazon or Wayfair.

Best Propane

The Best Tabletop Fire Pit Option: Endless Summer LP Gas Outdoor Fire Column

With a large size and stately design, the Endless Summer outdoor fire column is an excellent choice for those looking for a large tabletop fire pit. Measuring 11 inches square by 15 inches tall, this fire pit features a column-style design that makes it suitable for use on a dining or patio table as a striking tabletop fireplace, or placed on the ground as a small stand-alone fire pit.

Powered by a propane tank (not included), this fire column is intended for outdoor use only. It features a rustic faux-stone finish with a large decorative base that conceals a spot for a 1-pound propane tank inside. Because of its larger size, this fire pit puts out a pretty significant amount of heat. It has a 10,000-British-thermal-unit (BTU) stainless steel burner, so it can double as an outdoor heat source.

The Endless Summer gas fire column produced a big, warm flame—much larger than those from canned fuels. With a fuel bottle in place, operating this fire pit was easy: Just turn on the gas and light it manually. The gas control knob allowed us to change smoothly from a low flickering flame to a big bright flame.

Installing the gas bottle, however, was a bit awkward since there was no side access door, and the fire stones around the burner would fall off if we tilted the column too far while reaching under with the new bottle. Also, it is compatible only with the shorter/wider 1-pound gas bottles due to the height of the column. The narrower 14.5-ounce torch fuel bottles are too tall.

Product Specs

  • Indoor/outdoor: Outdoor
  • Fuel type: Propane
  • Dimensions: 11 inches square by 15 inches tall


  • This piece conveniently comes preassembled (single-use propane tank sold separately)
  • Column design and exposed flame are suitable for tabletop or freestanding display
  • Adjustable 10,000-BTU burner adds welcome warmth for cool-weather comfort
  • Compartment inside the column base hides the propane tank for a tidy appearance


  • The lack of a side access point makes it difficult to change the propane tank
  • Fire pit is built for outdoor use only, but it does not include a protective cover

Get the Endless Summer tabletop fire pit at Amazon, Wayfair, or Endless Summer.

Best Gel

The Best Tabletop Fire Pit Option: TerraFlame Geo Tabletop Fire Bowl

The TerraFlame Geo tabletop fire bowl features a modern geometric design that adds character to indoor or outdoor tables. This tabletop fire bowl comes in six earth-tone finishes and is crafted from eco-friendly concrete to create a contemporary-style fire bowl. The included beach pebbles add a natural touch. The thick concrete looks nice, plus it’s sturdy and doesn’t get hot to the touch.

This fire pit measures 10.625 inches in diameter by 5.125 inches tall, so it’s a suitable small fire pit for almost any tabletop. It’s powered by gel fuel that may be burned all in one sitting or snuffed out when partially burned for reuse later on. Once the canister is lit, the flame makes a lovely crackling sound and provides up to 3 hours of warmth and light.

Weighing in at 15 pounds, the TerraFlame Geo tabletop fire bowl was one of the heaviest tabletop fire pits we tested. We made sure to handle it carefully so as not to accidentally drop it and risk breaking it or damaging the surface below. In action, it was an ideal no-fuss option. The gel fuel was easy to light, easy to snuff out, made an attractive flame, and required no cleanup afterward. After going through three cans of fuel, our per-can burn time averaged 3 hours and 8 minutes.

Product Specs

  • Indoor/outdoor: Indoor or outdoor
  • Fuel type: Gel fuel
  • Dimensions: 10.625 inches in diameter by 5.125 inches tall


  • Chic geometric design complements contemporary, midcentury, and Art Deco styles
  • Durable cement construction is built to last and won’t get hot while in operation
  • Includes a gel fuel canister that crackles like a fireplace


Get the TerraFlame Geo tabletop fire pit at Amazon, Tractor Supply Co., Wayfair, Crate & Barrel, or TerraFlame

Best Design

The Best Tabletop Fire Pit Option: Orren Ellis Craddock Bio-Ethanol Tabletop Fireplace

With a stunning design and a variety of color options, the Orren Ellis Craddock bioethanol tabletop fireplace is the best tabletop fire pit for those looking to make a statement. Measuring 9.5 inches tall by 19.5 inches long by 8 inches wide, this large centerpiece will be the star of a coffee table or dining room table with its eye-catching modern style.

The fire pit’s distinctive elliptical shape provides plenty of space for its long flame feature, and the high-gloss finish is available in beige, black, blue, red, or stainless steel. A glass flame guard helps protect passersby from accidentally touching the flame while also giving this fire pit an elevated look.

One liter of bioethanol will power this tabletop fireplace for up to 5 hours (fuel is not included). This tabletop fire pit is safe for both indoor and outdoor use, although it’s best to store it indoors to protect the glossy finish.

The Orren Ellis Craddock tabletop fireplace stood out from our test group because of the elegant shape of the elongated curved base. The design gave it a subtle nautical feel. The fuel system operated by wicking the bioethanol fuel from the reservoir like a torch. The wick material itself did not burn, but it seemed to infuse the flames with livelier motion compared to canned fuel burners. Bioethanol fireplaces are not yet common in many locations, so be sure to order fuel when purchasing this indoor/outdoor fire pit.

Product Specs

  • Indoor/outdoor: Indoor or outdoor
  • Fuel type: Bioethanol
  • Dimensions: 9.5 inches tall by 19.5 inches long by 8 inches wide


  • Displays a striking contemporary design in the elliptical base and glass flame guard
  • Available in 5 different finish options to complement most modern contemporary decor
  • The large eye-catching flame is infused with lively motion
  • Glass flame guard protects the flame from wind and guests’ hands from the flame


  • Bioethanol fuel is not included with purchase and may not be available locally

Get the Orren Ellis tabletop fire pit at Wayfair

Best Fire Bowl

The Best Tabletop Fire Pit Option: TerraFlame Stone Tabletop Fire Bowl

The TerraFlame stone tabletop fire bowl features smooth, rounded curves that complement most decorating styles. This tabletop fire bowl is crafted from durable concrete and comes in four finish options. The thick concrete looks great, plus it’s sturdy and doesn’t become dangerously hot to touch.

This small fire pit measures 10.625 inches in diameter by 5.125 inches tall and weighs 15 pounds, so it works for almost any tabletop. Fueled by a can of gel alcohol with special additives for a crackling sound that resembles a wood fire, it burns up to 3 hours at a time.

Like the other TerraFlame fireplaces on our list, this one tested well for its attractive design and ease of operation. We tested the TerraFlame stone fire bowl both indoors and out. Indoors, the crackling flame became the immediate focus in a quiet room. Outdoors, it became slightly overwhelmed/outsized by wide-open space, and the flame was more susceptible to the whims of the wind. It served more of a supporting role outside rather than the star of the show. And the attractive bowl shape looked like it belonged in the space, whether or not the fire was lit.

Product Specs 

  • Indoor/outdoor: Indoor or outdoor
  • Fuel type: Gel fuel
  • Dimensions: 10.625 inches in diameter by 5.125 inches tall


  • Sturdy concrete construction infuses a sense of permanence, like it simply belongs in the space
  • Crackling gel fuel emits sounds and movements that replicate wood fire, but without smoke or ash
  • Versatile design is well proportioned and neutrally designed to fit any decor


  • The smaller flame size easily becomes somewhat “lost” in an outdoor setting
  • Fuel cost is higher than other indoor/outdoor fire pits

Get the TerraFlame stone tabletop fire pit at Amazon, Tractor Supply Co., Wayfair, Williams Sonoma, or TerraFlame.

Best Portable

The Best Tabletop Fire Pit Option: City Bonfires Portable Tabletop Fire Pit

A portable fire pit comes in handy for outdoor adventures, tailgating, in the backyard, or wherever you may roam. The pocket-size City Bonfires portable fire pit is the smallest, lightest model we tested, but it burns longer than other mini or portable fire pits. Each recycled steel can is loaded with food-grade soy wax fuel that lets you toast marshmallows, meditate, or just stay warm for up to 5 hours.

This is a mini bonfire in the truest sense of the word. Place it on a fireproof surface to light it, and within minutes, bright flames dance over the entire 4-inch-diameter surface. The exterior becomes very hot, so it’s only safe for outdoor use on heat-resistant surfaces.

For portable fire pitting, we really liked the City Bonfires’ design. To begin with, the tins were fairly small—each just 4 inches in diameter by 2 inches high and weighing 1 pound. They were tightly sealed, and even if one became punctured, the wax was solid, so there was no chance for a leak. It seemed much safer to carry these around than to transport liquid or gel fuel.

When we lit the four wicks, it took about a minute for the flame to develop fully. After that it was a steady 4-inch-wide by 4- to 5-inch-high bright flickering flame for hours at a time. When we wanted to snuff it out, we just placed the lid on top to smother the flame. The portable fire pit seems to be priced a bit higher than the materials warrant, but it works perfectly.

Product Specs 

  • Indoor/outdoor: Outdoor
  • Fuel type: Soy wax
  • Dimensions: 4 inches in diameter by 2 inches tall


  • Eco-friendly soy wax fuel produces bright beautiful flames and a pleasant aroma
  • Compact, lightweight fire pits are easy to store, easy to transport, and easy to set up
  • Simple to extinguish by simply placing the lid back on the can
  • May be lit, extinguished, and relit multiple times for up to 5 hours of total burn time each


  • The exterior of the portable fire pit becomes hot as it burns; not suitable for heat-sensitive tabletops
  • Costs more per burn hour than replacement gel fuel cans

Get the City Bonfires tabletop fire pit at Amazon or City Bonfires.

Best for Patio Tables

Close up of Bond fire bowl on picnic table

Looking for a more permanent propane fireplace fixture for a patio table? This tabletop fire bowl from Bond Manufacturing installs right into a patio table umbrella hole to create a sturdy and beautiful centerpiece. The fire pit is compatible with a standard umbrella hole in wood, glass, metal, wicker, and composite patio tables. Made of long-lasting steel with a weathered bronze finish, this is the best propane tabletop fire pit for busy backyards.

Installing via the umbrella hole ensures this fire bowl won’t tip over; it also helps to hide the propane tank, which sits beneath the table. This tabletop fire pit is powered by a 1-pound propane tank (not included) to provide a pleasant flickering light and 10,000 BTUs of warmth.

We installed the Bond Manufacturing tabletop fire bowl on a picnic table, and it could not have been easier. The gas stem that extended through the umbrella hole was threaded on the outside to accommodate the clamp nut and threaded on the inside to attach the gas bottle. The included tank support bracket worked only with the short/wide “green” 1-pound camp-style propane bottles and not the tall/narrow 14.5-ounce blowtorch bottles.

This fire pit required a lighter or match, as there was no built-in igniter. We liked the option to adjust the flame from a low flicker to 10 or 12 inches high for more or less heat and light on demand. We also noted that this propane burner was less sensitive to windy conditions than the gel- and liquid-fueled fire pits. It never seemed as though it was at risk of blowing out. The possible downside here is that the owner has to choose between installing a fire pit or an umbrella.

Product Specs

  • Indoor/outdoor: Outdoor
  • Fuel type: Propane
  • Dimensions: 10 inches in diameter by 5.9 inches high


  • Installs into standard patio table umbrella hole, so that tank is hidden below the tabletop
  • Long-lasting coated-steel construction requires almost zero maintenance
  • Safe to operate and impossible to topple over once installed


  • The umbrella hole cannot be used for an umbrella while the fire pit is installed
  • Some configurations may require you to crawl under the table to change the propane tank

Get the Bond Manufacturing tabletop fire pit at Amazon or Lowe’s.

Best Low-Profile

The Best Tabletop Fire Pit Option: Singry Bio-Ethanol Outdoor Tabletop Fireplace

A rectangular tabletop fireplace is a popular choice for rectangular tables. Since the Singry bioethanol outdoor tabletop fireplace features a low rectangular profile for clear visibility with guests across the table, it’s a great choice for a rectangular dining or patio table. It measures 8 inches tall by 14 inches long by 7.25 inches wide. It will fit comfortably on four- to eight-seat rectangular tables. The fire pit can absolutely work on round tables as well. The shape offers enough space for a substantial flickering flame to cast a glow over a dinner party or cocktails with friends.

The basic but contemporary design, featuring a black steel finish and two protective panels, can fit in with a variety of decors. It runs on bioethanol (not included) and comes with a wool-wick bioethanol burner for lighting and a snuffer to put out the flame safely.

In our tests, the Singry tabletop fireplace offered a generously proportioned flame with an excellent view for cross-table conversation. Although the low steel base stands only a few inches above the tabletop, the fuel reservoir held more than enough bioethanol fuel to last through the full 5-hour test period.

Product Specs

  • Indoor/outdoor: Indoor or outdoor
  • Fuel type: Bioethanol
  • Dimensions: 8 inches tall (12-inch glass) by 14 inches long by 7.25 inches wide


  • The sleek black stainless steel finish gives this fire pit a stylish modern look
  • The elongated shape of the wick and sizable fuel reservoir allow for a large attractive flame
  • Includes a snuffer to extinguish the flame safely at the end of the evening


  • Bioethanol is not included and generally is not available at brick-and-mortar stores; be sure to order fuel separately.

Get the Singry tabletop fire pit at Amazon.

Jump to Our Top Picks

Or, DIY Your Own Tabletop Fire Pit

Making a simple DIY tabletop fire pit is an easy project with the right materials. All it takes is a fire-resistant vessel, filler, and a fire gel fuel canister.

Start with a sturdy and relatively heavy fire-resistant vessel. Large planters or flower pots are the best choice; they are durable, difficult to tip over, and suitable for outdoor use. Fire-resistant material options include concrete, stone, terra cotta, or glazed ceramic garden pots.

Next, choose a fire-resistant filling material. Landscaping rocks, lava rocks, gravel, sand, and glass pebbles are all suitable and attractive options. Lastly, you’ll need a fire gel fuel canister, which will provide a safe fuel source.

Putting together the tabletop fire pit is simple. Place the gel fuel canister in the center of the planter or pot and fill the surrounding area with your chosen filler. Do not cover the top of the gel fuel canister. To fill the fire pit higher than the top of the fuel canister, create a barrier around the canister using chicken wire. Depending on how deep the bowl is, you may choose to place some filler before placing the gel fuel canister to give the flame a bit more height.

Place the finished fire pit on the table, light it, and voilà! A beautiful, warm, flickering centerpiece.

What to Consider When Choosing a Tabletop Fire Pit

Tabletop fire pits offer the coziness and flickering glow of a fireplace but in a portable package. Designed to function like a miniature fire pit, they’re decorative, warm, and safe to use. Tabletop fire pits aren’t intended to be a significant source of light or heat, but rather they help to create an enchanting ambience. When shopping for the best tabletop fire pits, consider the fire pit’s intended location, size, burn time, fuel type, and safety features.

The Best Tabletop Fire Pit Options

Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila


Shoppers can choose from both indoor and outdoor firepits. For those looking for flexibility, many options can be used either indoors or outdoors.

Of course, choose the appropriate tabletop fireplace for its intended use. If you’re looking to host cozy indoor winter dinner parties, an indoor fire pit for the dining room is an elegant choice. For balmy summer nights, the best outdoor tabletop fire pit options can help create a charming and comfortable patio lounging space. When it comes to location, a tabletop fire pit should always be used as instructed, especially since some outdoor tabletop fire pits aren’t safe to use indoors (and vice versa).

Size and Burn Time

Tabletop fire pits come in a range of sizes, from portable mini burners to grand, striking pieces on par with some of the best gas fire pit or best smokeless fire pit options. Choose a size that suits the intended table, keeping in mind that there should be enough space for guests to sit around the table while maintaining a safe distance from the fire pit.

When it comes to tabletop fire pits, burn time refers to how long the fire pit can stay lit without needing to refill the fuel source. Burn time generally ranges from 1 to 5 hours. A longer burn time means less time spent dealing with the fuel.

While tabletop fire pits aren’t usually a significant source of heat, most can emit enough heat to warm up cold fingers and create a cozier seating space. Heat output is measured in BTUs. Many tabletop fire pits emit between 1,000 and 10,000 BTUs, but some large options can emit up to an impressive 50,000 BTUs. In comparison, many standard 1,500-watt space heaters emit around 5,100 BTUs

Fuel Type

Tabletop fire pits use either a liquid or gel fuel. Since they’re designed to sit so closely to seated people, the best tabletop fire pit will use a clean-burning fuel source that creates minimal smoke or soot. Fuel types can include propane, isopropyl alcohol, bioethanol, ethanol-free fuels, and alcohol-based fireplace fuel gels. For both safety and performance purposes, it’s important to only use the fuel type specified in the fire pit owner’s manual.

When choosing a fuel type, consider ease of use, including accessibility to the fuel type and how difficult it is to change the fuel. For example, switching out a propane tank takes longer than simply pouring a cup of rubbing alcohol into the fuel reservoir. Also consider portability; a propane-fueled fire pit will always need a nearby propane tank, whereas fuel gels and liquids are almost always contained within the fire pit.


While tabletop fireplaces are safe to use, they do have an open flame, which comes with its own inherent risks. Some tabletop fire pits have safety features to lower the chance of mishaps. To start, it’s always important to use the tabletop fire pit exactly as instructed. Make sure to use the correct fuel source to ensure the fire pit burns clean.

A good tabletop fire pit should be made of materials that won’t get too hot to the touch to prevent burns if someone accidentally touches the bowl. To lower the chance of someone coming in direct contact with the flame, some tabletop fire pits also have a glass shield.

Otherwise, safety features are rather sparse in tabletop fire pits. Due to their simple design, many tabletop fire pits don’t have auto shutoff or other safety features, so supervision is a must when the fire pit is lit.


Tabletop fire pits are often chosen as the focal point for a patio or dining table because of their striking aesthetic. But with their open flame, they require more thought and care than a typical centerpiece. Wondering if a tabletop fire pit is a safe and suitable option for your home? Read on for the answers to some frequently asked questions on using and maintaining a tabletop fire pit.

Q. Are tabletop fire pits safe?

Since they have an open flame, tabletop fire pits come with an inherent risk of fire or burns. However, if you’re mindful of use and safety directions, tabletop fire pits are safe.

Q. Are tabletop fire pits warm?

While tabletop fire pits aren’t intended to be heaters, they do emit a bit of heat.

Q. Is the fire in a tabletop fire pit real?

Yes, the fire in a tabletop fire pit is a real fire.

Q. What type of fuel do tabletop fire pits use?

It depends on the tabletop fire pit. Tabletop fire pits most commonly use bioethanol liquid fuel, propane tanks, or alcohol-based gel fuels. Fuel sources are not interchangeable, so make sure to use only the fuel type specified in the owner’s manual.

Q. Can I use my tabletop fire pit outdoors?

It depends. Follow the manufacturer’s directions, which should specify if the tabletop fire pit is suitable for indoor or outdoor use (or both).

Q. How do I clean and store my tabletop fire pit?

Only handle the tabletop fire pit when it is extinguished and fully cooled. Dispose of the fuel appropriately. Tabletop fireplaces burn pretty cleanly, so there should be very little residue in the unit. A damp cloth should do the trick to remove any dust or leftover residue. For tabletop fire pits with a protective shield, follow the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning the glass (a gas fireplace glass cleaner is usually suitable). Once clean and dry, the fire pit can be stored in its original container or another box to prevent dust buildup.

Why Trust Bob Vila 

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.

Meet the Tester

Mark Wolfe is a writer and product tester with an extensive background in the nursery and landscaping industry. For more than 20 years, he mowed, edged, planted, pruned, cultivated, irrigated, and renovated beautiful landscapes. Now he tests and writes reviews about the latest outdoor power equipment, hand tools, lawn-care products, and other outdoor living goods.

Additional research provided by Jasmine Harding.