Have you ever wanted to learn how to start a fire but weren't sure where to begin? Maybe you saw a friend or a neighbor create a roaring fire in their backyard fire pit but you still haven't figured out the secret to building a fire and keeping it going. Well, if that is the case, you are in luck. We created an article just for you. Today we are going to talk about how to start a fire in a fire pit. With a little practice, you will be wowing friends and family with your fire-making skills in no time.
- fire pit in the back yard
First tip on how to start a fire - Examine the wood
While log stacking is an important step in learning how to start a fire, the step many people overlook that comes before that is, examining the wood. Before building a fire you have to first check the moisture content and type of wood you are burning. Wood that has more than 20% moisture content will not burn well and will cause excessive amounts of smoke to rise from the fire.
While you won't be able to figure out the exact moisture content of your wood without a wood moisture meter, a general rule of thumb is don't use wood that hasn't dried out for at least a year. Certainly, don't use wood that sat out in the rain days before you started the fire.
- pile of wood
Second, its good to keep in mind that softwoods are not the best types of wood to use in an outdoor fire pit. Softwoods will burn fast and put off excess smoke and soot. Softwoods include many types of cedar, fir, and pine. Spruce, larch, and juniper also should be avoided unless no other wood is around. Poplar trees are technically a hardwood species though they are the "softest" in the hardwood category, so they may put off excess smoke and burn quickly as well.
Second tip on how to start a fire - Kindling
If you thought we would move on to log stacking next, not so fast. There's one more step before we get to decide between teepee and log cabin style. Before stacking your logs, you need to set up some kindling.
You can use a combination of construction cuttings or pine heartwood. Lay those flat in the center of your fire pit, then add wadded-up balls of copy paper in between the sticks. That should get you off to a good start.
Third tip on how to start a fire - Stacking the wood
When stacking wood, it is best to be intentional about how you place the logs in your fire pit. Contrary to popular belief, the way you stack them actually does matter, because stacking them without space for air to flow will suffocate your fire. The fire has to have air for combustion. So we recommend "teepee" or "log cabin" style stacking. Teepee style is where you put one edge of the logs on the outside of your kindling. Then meet the opposite ends together in the air to form a teepee.
- teepee fire
Log cabin style is where you take two to three logs and lay them in the same direction over the middle of the fire pit. Then take two to three more logs and lay them in the opposite direction over the first layer of logs. Make sure in both of these setups that you make space between each of the logs to ensure there is room for air to flow. Otherwise, you will defeat the entire purpose of setting it up this way.
- log cabin fire
Fourth step on how to start a fire - Kerosene
If you do the first three steps and find that you still can't get the fire going, it is ok to pour a little kerosene or lighter fluid on the kindling and let it soak for a few minutes. After that, try lighting it again. Do not, for any reason, dump gasoline, diesel fuel, or motor oil on the fire in your backyard fire pit. That is not a good idea no matter what anyone else says. Flash combustion can happen faster than you can blink. So, stick with tried & true lighter fuel to make sure your eyebrows outlast the fire pit.
- fire pit backyard
With these tips in mind, you will be creating great fires in no time. Everyone in the neighborhood will want to come to your house for marshmallow roasting and telling stories by the fire. If you have any other questions about how to start a fire or how to maintain a wood fire pit, please call us at 800.203.1642. We also have tons of guides and articles you can review here.