If you spent your childhood taking camping trips every weekend with your family or you spent time in the Scouts, you may already be a skilled pro at building a fire. However, if you are not the outdoorsy type, you may never have learned the proper techniques for building a quality fire. Even though this skill can seem intimidating for a newbie, it is actually quite manageable once you get the hang of it!
With a wood-burning fire pit in your backyard, you do not even need to venture out into the wilderness to achieve a cozy, roaring fire. You can enjoy such luxuries from the comfort of your own home. If you want to learn how to develop this easy and straightforward skill, or if you just want to improve on the knowledge you already have, read on for our tips on how to start the perfect (or most efficient!) fire in your backyard fire pit.
Before you ever light your fire, make sure that safety is your top priority. Fire pit safety is incredibly important, and if you follow the best practices, you can avoid costly mistakes. Here are some safety guidelines to keep in mind when using your fire pit:
- To prevent flames or embers from escaping the pit, start your fire on an even surface.
- Make sure your fire pit is at least 10 feet away from any trees, houses, fences, or other flammable things.
- If the weather is very windy, choose a different night to light a fire.
- Keep a safe distance from the fire pit, and pay attention to any children and pets nearby.
- Avoid use of propellants or other potentially hazardous or toxic substances.
- Never leave your fire unattended.
How to Build a Fire with Wood in a Fire Pit
After you’ve chosen a safe site for your fire, it is time to collect the appropriate supplies to prepare your fire. But do not worry; the list of things you will need is not excessively long, and everything is easy to acquire. Here is everything you will need to get your fire going:
- Fire Starter: You can choose from a variety of various fire starters. Kitchen lighters and matches are the most common household items you could use. These will get the job done, but this can be a time-consuming choice. You can also use a butane torch lighter or an electric arc. Most people do not have one of these on hand, but they are far more effective at starting a fire in a fire pit and are fairly inexpensive to purchase.
- Tinder: To ignite your fire, you will need to use tinder. Leaves, pine cones, newspaper, or tree bark can all be used as tinder, as they catch fire easily. As long as the material is dry and non-toxic, it can be used to light a fire. If you need ideas, a quick Google search will show you many types of DIY fire starters you could use for starting a fire in a fire pit. Different options have different advantages, but there are so many options to choose from.
- Kindling: Kindling pieces are dry sticks that will keep your fire going for long enough for the bigger logs to ignite after the tinder has burnt up. Softwoods, such as pine, cedar, poplar, and spruce, are usually the most effective sticks and twigs for kindling.
- Firewood: The base of your fire will be made up of logs, which will keep it going all night long. Hardwoods, such as maple, oak, ash, and birch, make the best firewood. Before using your logs, make sure they are properly seasoned and stacked.
Next, it is time to start your fire, now that you have gathered all of the necessary supplies.
2. Starting Your Fire
This is the bit you have been waiting for: lighting a fire in a fire pit without the use of lighter fluid or hazardous chemicals. Let’s go over each stage of how to build a fire in your fire pit:
- To begin, construct a tinder pile in the bottom middle of your fire pit. This pile should be around the size of your palm.
- Next, take your kindling and lay it at a 35-degree angle right above your tinder, forming a pyramid or tee-pee shape. Make sure the kindling structure is dense and close enough together, but not so tightly constructed that it will not still allow for air flow through small gaps.
- After you have set up your kindling, light your tinder pile using the fire starter. It is time to start placing your firewood once the kindling has started to burn.
- Finally, begin to stack the seasoned timber in the fire pit. The formation of the firewood should be identical to that of the kindling, either forming a pyramid or a tee-pee shape. Keep the firewood close together to keep the fire concentrated, but leave small gaps to allow for maximized air flow.
If you follow these steps correctly, you should soon have a roaring fire before you.
3. Maintaining Your Fire
Keeping the fire in your fire pit properly maintained is necessary if you want the flame to burn brightly all night. If your firewood is not catching fire or the flame is dying out too quickly, try adding more tinder and kindling to the mix. You may want to check out the state of your firewood, as well. Switch more new firewood into the fire if the logs start to turn completely black and are disintegrating, or if the flame is dying. Keep in mind that you always should keep an eye on your fire, adding more dry tinder, kindling, or logs as needed, and avoiding suffocating the flame.
4. Extinguishing You Fire Pit
After successfully starting and sustaining a fire in your fire pit, the party is winding down, and you are ready to call it a night. It is now time to put out the flame in a safe manner. You would not want any stray sparks or embers still hanging around that could reignite. When putting out a fire in your fire pit, you should follow these simple steps:
- Take a hose or a pail of water and gently trickle water on the flames. Make sure you do not just dump or pour the water into the fire pit, since this can damage it.
- After you have finished sprinkling water and the flames have withered into embers, grab a shovel and mix the ash and embers around until you can’t hear any hissing anymore.
- Finally, lightly touch the ash and, if it is cool, dispose of it properly.
Now that you know what you need to do in order to get that billowing backyard blaze going, you do not have to narrow down your options to only gas fire pits or automatic starts. You can feel confident that you can accommodate everyone’s comfort the next time the family wants to spend the evening outside but it is a bit too chilly or you are having guests over and need an activity after dinner. A wood fire pit can provide you with a cozy, rustic feel in your own backyard and create the ambiance you are looking for.