Frequently Asked Questions About FireBowls

Firebowl Facts

How are your firebowls made?

My Sculptural Firebowls are hand-cut by the artist from 100% recycled industrial tanks using a 35,000°F plasma torch. They are not: produced by CAD/CAM automated cutting, cast, welded, forged, spun, stamped or machined.

The material of the firebowls is carbon steel (also known as mild steel). It is not: Iron, stainless steel, copper, tin, aluminum or any other metal.

It is increasingly common for web retailers to use terms interchangeably to try to boost search optimization, but as a metalworker and artist I feel it is important to describe materials and method correctly. It's also not uncommon that when looking at a photo, people assume that an item is copper or stainless because of coloration.

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Are your firebowls safe for kids?

That depends on you. The firebowls are no more dangerous than the rest of the planet (cars, bathtubs, microwaves, etc.) In many ways, a raised bowl is safer than a sunken firepit, which is easier to fall into. I kind of view the sharp points of the Great Bowl O' Fire as a built-in warning sign of potential danger: they are obviously sharp.

Please note that like any fire pit, the bowl does get hot and can retain heat for several hours after a fire has burned down to embers. The points of the flames are sharp. Please exercise proper caution… I will not be held legally liable for injuries due to carelessness. By purchasing a firebowl, you acknowledge that proper safety warnings have been issued.

My complete thoughts on the matter are on my blog here.

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How long will my firebowl last?

I like to say that I can't guarantee them longer than 500-1000 years. The thickness and quality of the steel insures that they will last many generations.

I offer a Dynasty Guarantee on all other Sculptural Firebowls, meaning they will last many lifetimes.
I offer a Lifetime Guarantee on the Firebird Grill, Blaze O' Glory Brazier, Waves O' Glory brazier and Beach Burner Portable Bonfire.

My Sculptural Firebowls are basically indestructible, but may arrive with some marks or scratches due to the fact that they are made from recycled materials. These scratches are considered to add history and character rather than being a defect. Most of the firebowls will also have some numbers or writing stamped into the steel, generally at the bottom where they are not visible. This also gives some history to the object.

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Will the rust finish eventually destroy the firebowl?

Once the patina develops over the first few months, the rust forms a protective coating preventing air from further oxidizing the metal. All things must eventually cease to exist, but the heavy steel of my firebowls ensures that they will last for many, many generations.

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Are the firebowls stable?

My firebowls are designed to be quite stable and are quite difficult to tip over accidentally. The weight of the bowl nests into the detached base, and the weight of the bowl itself helps to keep it in place. There are two reasons that the base is not welded to the bowl:

  1. It makes it much easier to move (and to ship)
  2. It makes it possible to level the bowl on site during installation if the ground is not perfectly level itself.

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How much does a firebowl weigh?

The total weight for each design is listed at the top of its sales page.

The bases for the firebowls weigh between 30-40 pounds. Stock firebowls weigh between 40-100 pounds depending on size and design. The detached base makes it easy for one or two people to move safely. I find that the easiest way to move most designs is by rolling it like a wheel.

The shipping weight of the firebowls is 50-100 pounds more, to include the weight of the pallet or crates when shipping internationally.

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Will you do custom designs?

Yes. I love doing something new and fresh and welcome your ideas. That said, because my firebowls are created from recycled steel tanks, there are some restrictions on size or shape. For a full explantion of this, read this article.

Small modifications to an existing design can often be done for $100 or so.

Pricing for custom firebowls is based on time and materials. Custom orders are more expensive than stock designs due to the fact that it always takes much longer to do something the first time. Pricing for a custom design can range anywhere from 100% more to 300% more than the price of a stock design, depending on size, complexity and how difficult it is to lay out before cutting. The more exactly you are able to tell me what you want, the more accurately I can bid the price for you.

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Are your firebowls really eco-friendly/green?

Sustainability is a major focus of my work as an artist.

  • I work primarily with recycled or re-used materials to minimize my impact on natural resources, climate and the environment.
  • I design for permanence. Most of my objects will last generations with little or no maintenance. I try to create designs which are timeless so that they never become part of the waste stream.
  • I design for functionality. My work is intended to be useful as well as beautiful.
  • Where possible, I design for easy disassembly for shipping or later re-use of materials.

My firebowls are as eco-friendly as a firepit design can be (see the discussion here on Treehugger). They are made from 100% recycled materials, and the steel is 100% recyclable itself. All the scrap generated in the studio is either used in other artwork or recycled. The design scores high on sustainability in other ways as well. The warm rust finish requires zero maintenance and no chemical treatments. Quarter inch steel plate insures the bowl will last generations in any climate. The heavy steel holds and radiates heat like a wood stove, providing more warmth for less fuel. Opt for the gas-burning upgrade to minimize emissions and risk of accidental fire.

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Do you have a printed catalog?

More than just a simple catalog, our Sculptural Firebowl Catalog is a beautiful 38 page art book. We chose a 12" x 12" format that allows the photos to really show the firebowls in their best light. The catalog is hosted on Magcloud to give you multiple options for print or digital delivery. You may choose any of the following:

Magcloud's print pricing is exceptional, as the same size catalog on other print-on-demand services came to almost $70. The only drawback is that we were restricted to a wire binding rather than the stitched binding I would have preferred.

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Can a propane tank be hidden in the base?

This is a fairly common request, but sadly the answer is that it is NOT possible with my firebowls. The bases of my firebowls are 6 x 12 inches while a 20 pound propane tank is 17.5 X 12.2 inches. Any base that would conceal such a large item would also overwhelm the design and proportions of my firebowl designs.

Also, my firebowls do get hot when in use and could overheat the tank. I'm uncomfortable with the idea of housing a propane tank in the base because there's a risk of explosion. Although there are fire features designed to hide propane tanks, they are designed quite differently in both appearance and materials and require about $30,000 in lab tests and engineering (for every single design variation) to be legal to sell.

If you use a remote tank and run a gas line to the firebowl, you can put a shut-off valve in the gas line near to the bowl, which allows you to turn the gas on and off right by the firebowl rather than having to walk over to the tank. This is the simplest and best way to conceal the propane tank that feeds your firebowl.

Another solution is to build a stone or brick pillar that can house the tank and then put the bowl on top as seen in this photo. Or, the tank can be hidden inside a nearby table as a customer recently did.

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Payment and Pricing

Do you offer wholesale prices to designers?

Yes. Click here to apply for a wholesale account.

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Do you offer payment plans/layaway?

Yes. In most cases I am happy to finance a purchase via a scheduled payment plan. Artwork is shipped only when payments are completed. Buyer is responsible for making payments on time and notifying me when their purchase has been completed so that I can ship the work (ie: I'm not going to keep track of it for you but I will check your math when you tell me you've completed your payments).

Payments for financed artwork are not refundable in the event that payments cease before the agreed amount has been completed. They can be applied to less expensive work, or counted towards the total when payments resume at a later date.

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What is your return policy?

I follow the same return policy as Amazon's A-to-z Guarantee. All artwork sold from the website is eligible for return and replacement if it arrives damaged or broken or is materially different than represented as described on Amazon's page here. Sculptural Firebowls may arrive with some marks or scratches due to the fact that they are made from recycled materials. These scratches are considered to add history and character rather than being a defect eligible for return.

Commissions and custom designs are excluded from the above policy: I will refund deposits if no materials have been purchased and no work has begun. Once the deposit has been spent on materials or I have begun the piece, the deposit is no longer refundable. If for any reason you are unhappy with a finished commission or custom design, I will make a reasonable effort to help you resell it but custom work is not eligible for return or refund

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What is your refund policy on commissions and custom designs?

I will refund deposits only if no materials have been purchased and no work has begun. Once the deposit has been spent on materials or I have begun the piece, the deposit is no longer refundable. If for any reason you are unhappy with a finished commission or custom design, I will make a reasonable effort to help you resell it but custom work is not eligible for return or refund

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Firebowl Shipping

How are the firebowls shipped?

Firebowls ship via freight carrier on reused pallets. They are securely tied face down to the pallets with biodegradable twine. The base for the firebowl is under the bowl on the pallet. Oversize firebowls and international orders will be crated.

How-johntunger-firebowls-are-shipped

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How long does it take to ship?

Firebowls ship within 7-10 business days of receiving your order. Transit times vary based on distance, but the furthest states rarely take more than 4 business days in transit. 2-3 day transit times are the norm.

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Do I need to sign for delivery?

Yes. The freight company will not deliver without a signature. They will call you to make an appointment when the bowl reaches the terminal nearest your home or business.

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Do you ship internationally?

Yes! I love to have my work in as many different parts of the world as possible. I've shipped all over the world and it's always exciting to add new locations.

International orders are fulfilled through Bongo Checkout, a service from Bongo International which calculates all the costs involved in getting my artwork to your door. Bongo Checkout is designed to improve the international customer's experience with:

  • Localization of the checkout process with 16 languages and 187 currencies
  • Billing the full Landed Cost at checkout, eliminating duty and tax surprises upon delivery
  • Ensuring delivery in less than a week to most locations
  • Accepting over 90 payment options

Simply visit the International Orders page here and click the "Order Now" button for the Sculptural Firebowl design you wish to order, and you will be connected to Bongo Checkout's cart which will calaculate the total cost of your order.

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Maintenance + Installation

Will your firebowls stain or burn my deck or patio?

If you plan to use your firebowl on a wooden or plastic lumber deck, you MUST place a heat shielding pad, firebrick or concrete paver under the base. The firebowl does not transfer enough heat to set fire to a deck, but the base gets hot enough to brand marks into the wood.

The best way to insulate a deck when using a gas firebowl is to make a small square of firebrick to set the bowl on. This allows you to easily run gas from below without having to drill or cut holes in a one-piece barrier. Other options include using a concrete paver (like a round stepping stone) or a slab of stone.

To avoid rust stains, you can paint the bowl with high temp spray paint. The drawback to painting is that you have to retouch it every couple years.

The bowls will cause some staining if unpainted but the stain comes off hard surfaces like stone quite readily with CLR or other household rust removing cleansers. Another solution that people have used is to put a small pad, flat stone or concrete paver under the base of the pit.

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What kind of maintenance does my firebowl need?

The only maintenance really required is to remove the ashes from wood fires periodically. The best way to do this is to use a shovel blade without a handle as a scoop. When ashes get wet, they become caustic and also hold water to the steel promoting accelerated rust. Allow bowl to cool overnight before cleaning. Wear leather gloves when cleaning.

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How do I install a gas burner?

It's quite simple really, but my lawyer says I should tell you to hire a licensed plumber or gas guy. You can download a print quality PDF diagram here.

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What is the safest way to light a manual gas ring?

I recommend wadding up some newspaper, putting it in the pit and lighting it before turning the gas on. That way, there's no big flare of gas that could singe you and no one is close to the pit when the fire starts.

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Where can I buy an auto-ignition gas burner?

I do not stock the automatic ignition burners but I highly recommend ordering them from Steven Stegall at Firecrystals.com. Steven carries my firebowls in his store and can answer all your questions about how to hook up an automatic ignition gas burner for your firpit.

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Can I buy spark screens to fit your firebowls?

Local ordinances may require you to use a spark screen to arrest sparks if you use a firebowl for wood burning fires. I do not make spark screens myself, but firesidexpressions.com carries a variety of well-crafted spark screens which will fit my firebowls. You can view their catalog of screens here or call 1-888-986-1535 if you need help selecting the correct size screen.

In many areas where open wood fires are prohibited, a gas fire pit will pass inspection because it creates no sparks (although you should check your local ordinances to be certain).

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What kind of paints can I use to paint my firebowl?

All my firebowls are shipped with a natural patina. You can use a high temperature spray paint to paint your bowl on site. High temp spray paint for grills is available at most any hardware store and will work fine on your firebowl. You can also use high temp automotive spray paints designed for engine blocks. These come in a wider color selection and can be found at auto parts stores.

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Will you paint my firebowl for me?

No. It's harder to fix a scratch in paint than it is to paint from scratch, and scratches are likely to occur during shipping. I recommend painting the bowl only once it is on the site where it will be used.

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John T. Unger