How To Start A Fire In A Fire Pit

Bill Taylor
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The Basics

There are several important factors to keep in mind when building a fire: kindling, tinder, and fuel wood.

Kindling is fuel wood that is smaller than your thumb. It may be leafy twigs, or even shaved paper, as long as it is dry.

Tinder is small, highly combustible fuel that is often covered in a protective paper, such as kerosene.

Fuel wood is larger than your thumb and is usually not split. I suggest using dry fuel wood for the initial fire and adding kindling and tinder in stages to maintain the flame.

To start a fire in an outdoor fire pit, first lay your fuel wood in the pit. Build a teepee or log cabin structure with the wood, but don’t leave any large gaps. Build it as precise and stable as you can.

Use kindling to make a base layer. These should be small sticks or twigs. The key with kindling is to use as little as possible. The kindling will ignite the tinder, and then you can add logs if you want.

Tinder should be placed on top of the kindling. You need some fat to catch fire. I recommend using a candle or kerosene to protect the tinder from the rain.

Fire Safety

It is fun to have a fire pit in your outdoor area so you can host outdoor parties, take a few days off from work, or just as a great gathering place for friends and family. It is, however, very important to be aware of a few safety issues if you have children or if you’re inviting children over for a party.

Don’t leave your fire pit unattended. It is very easy to get carried away talking, laughing and spending time with your friends and family, only to realize that you didn’t tend the fire in a long time. This is very dangerous as it could cause a fire.

Keep it to your homes property. It is a huge fire safety hazard if you carry firewood from your home and set it outside your home.

Clear all flammable ground cover, such as pine straw or leaves.

Consider the wind direction. Keep the wind in mind when you position the pit.

Make sure you have a fire extinguisher on hand and make sure you know how to use it.

Have a bucket of water on hand to douse the fire in case of emergency.

Keep the fire small and ready to put out.

Place a fire ring or a tripod and umbrella around the fire.

Never leave children unsupervised near a fire.

What Is The Best Thing To Burn In A Fire Pit?

Fire pits are great for entertaining family and friends at night or on a cold autumn or winter evening. You can roast s'mores over an open fire, or simply gaze at the flames to provide a calming atmosphere. Whenever you have a large gathering, people tend to congregate around the burning pit and if you have left your lighter on a table, lost track of time, or are simply too cold to rise at the moment, you may need to know how to get a fire started.

Wood is the best party fuel. The most traditional and popular fuel source is a Duraflame® log. These all natural look-alike logs are made from sawdust, glue, and wax, and are designed to burn without creating excess smoke.

If you prefer to burn wood in your fire pit, use light splitters or small firewood pieces to start the fire. This is a much better option than using a full size log as the fire will need your constant attention to keep it burning. Once you have a small fire going, you can place the extra wood on the fire as needed.

Inconsistencies With Seasoned Firewood

If you want to keep costs down when building a fire, one of the best tips is to find firewood that is already seasoned. It is true that different varieties of wood take different amounts of time to dry, but wood should be dried to a moisture content of 20% or lower to make it easier to ignite and keep a fire burning. That is not to say that you can only burn firewood that is seasoned and waiting for you in your backyard.

If you are in an area that has a natural forest fire hazard, like the mountains or by the beach, it is likely that you can find firewood for free. Firewood just might be there for the taking if you know where to look. If you are not in an area where all of your firewood will be completely dry, do not burn it.

If you have separate piles of seasoned and non-seasoned firewood, you should have separate pits for building fires as well. Mixing firewood of different ages will impact how much heat is put into your fire. You will not know exactly what you are getting when you throw a log into the pit, and you may find yourself trying to relight the fire in the middle of the night.

An Optional Alternative

If you are looking to create a cozy campfire mood, using an electric fire pit is a great alternative. These fire pits from Eliteflame’s outdoor lighting collection come in different sizes and can give a soft, cozy ambiance like a fireplace. The flames can be adjusted to create a gentle flame, or you can opt for the brighter flame that will give more of a campfire feel. Some of these outdoor fire pits can withstand gusts of winds, rain, and snow. The screen lid will protect the lit flame and create a contained fire as it does. The flame will be the centerpiece for a romantic night next to the fire, as well as for parties.

Starting A Fire

When the sun is shining, there is nothing better than to relax in your porch and enjoy a smoldering fire, signaling the coming of summer. Your guests will surely appreciate the comfort of an outdoor space, ideal for curling their feet under a blanket, tasting the succulent meat of the grilled food and the refreshing feeling from the ice cold beverage that they appreciate so much.

In order to prepare the ideal fire pit, you need a few simple tools and, of course, a fire-proof pit. The fire pit should have:

  • A protective metal screen
  • An opening large enough to add wood and embers
  • A covering
  • A ring for holding the firewood

Besides these features, you will also need some tools to prepare the pit, such as hammer and chisel to fix the screen and a shovel to level the pit after you’re done with it.

Now you can start getting ready for the match.

First, light the firewood. You can either use a match or a spark from your flint stone. Wait for the firewood to burn in nice flames. Then, add a couple of shovels of coal, depending on the size of your pit.

Wait for the fire to burn high. Then, add the embers.

Wait until the embers die down. Then, cover the pit with a heat-proof thrown.

Types Of Wood To Use

Using the right wood is important for an enjoyable fire. Different woods produce varying levels of heat and smoke, while some release higher levels of resin. In addition, some woods are denser than others; therefore, generating less heat than their less dense counterparts:

  • Softwoods are more resinous. They include Cedars, Fir, Larch, Pine and Spruce. They burn well, but produce a lot of smoke. They produce copious amounts of bed-warming heat, but little in the way of body warming heat. If you're not building a fire for warmth, this type of wood is best for you.
  • Hardwoods are denser and much more aromatic. They include Apple, Ash, Oak and Walnut. These produce more heat than softwood, but still not as much as burning a hardwood and softwood combination. Hardwood burns longer than softwoods, but is only suitable for outdoor areas with good air flow.
  • Hardwood and softwood combination burns hotter than softwoods alone. This is the single best bet for outdoor fire pits. It combines the aromatic scent of the best hardwoods while generating the higher heat output of the hardest woods.