The night is beginning to draw in, you and your guests have enjoyed great food and drinks and you want to stay outside a little longer. You have a fire pit so why not start a fire to keep warm, provide light and of course, create a welcoming atmosphere?
Starting a fire in a fire pit is no mean feat. While you may think it looks easy, getting the fire going and maintaining it can be the stuff of nightmares. But after you have invested all that money in your fire pit, you will need to learn how to start it. The good news is that it doesn’t need to be a challenge, there are lots of easy ways to start a fire pit, and we are going to show you how.
How Difficult Is It To Start A Fire?
You see people in the movies confidently striking a match and within minutes, they have a roaring fire and are toasting marshmallows and singing campfire songs. If only! The reality of the situation involves a lot of trial and error and a significant number of four letter words.
Starting a fire is not an easy task but once you develop a reliable method, it should be fail safe. But it isn’t just getting the fire going, you need to be prepared to maintain it so if you’re playing host, be sure that you have someone on fire duty at all times.
Fire Pit Safety
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to start a fire, it is essential that we give you a few tips on fire safety. We are sure that you are aware of the dangers that fire can pose but not all new fire pit owners know about the basic fire pit safety rules. Let’s take a brief run through.
- You should never place your fire pit under any overhanging structures whether this be a tree, gazebo or anything else overhead.
- The fire pit should not be placed within 25 feet of any permanent building, for example, your house.
- A fire pit is designed to contain a small fire, never allow it to burn more than this as things can quickly get out of control.
- There should be a large enough space around the fire pit for people to move. Children and pets should be kept clear at all times.
- Always have a bucket of water to hand in case of an emergency.
- Do not leave combustible materials around the base of the fire pit. This might include things like leaves and dried grass.
- Never leave a glowing fire pit unattended. Once you have finished, be sure to put out any remaining hot embers.
5 Simple Ways To Start A Fire Pit
1. The Traditional Way
When we say ‘traditional’ many of you might think that this is going to be the most challenging. The reason that this method has stood the test of time is because it is so reliable but it must be done in the right way if you want your fire to be successful.
It does pay to keep in mind that this is probably the most time-consuming way to start your fire but it can also be great fun. If you have children and you want to (safely) get them involved in learning how to build a fire, this is a great way of teaching them an essential survival skill.
For this method, you will need to work the fire in three different stages adding various materials at each stage to gradually make the fire bigger. The first stage is to add the tinder; no, we’re talking about the dating site, tinder is any material that can be used to take the initial spark. If you’re out in nature, you can use things like pieces of dry bark, wood shavings and even cattails. At home, you can put that dryer lint to use because it’ll go up incredibly well.
The next stage is to pop on some kindling. This will need to be stacked around the tinder in a pyramid shape leaving enough room to safely light your tinder. The kindling is the material that will take second and should be small pieces of wood. You can purchase kindling which is cut to the ideal size but using twigs and sticks that are around an inch in diameter is OK; just make sure they’re dry!
Now it’s time to get lighting. You will need a long match or lighter to light the tinder. This should ignite pretty easily and before long, the kindling will catch fire too. At this stage, you will need to keep adding kindling until there is a decent blaze, at which point feel free to put on some larger logs. The hotter and more established the fire when you add these, the more easily they will burn.
2. Use Pinecones
If you really want to make the most of the outdoor lifestyle then you could spend the day gathering pine cones to use on your fire when the sun goes down. Again, this is a great way to get younger family members involved, but again; remember to actively promote fire safety.
If you don’t fancy popping up to the woods and gathering the pinecones yourself, it is possible to buy pinecone firelighters online and in various outdoor stores. You will notice that the majority of these are the varieties with flat scales as opposed to the ones that are long and thin; these won’t take as well when lit.
Your pinecones will act as your tinder and they are surprisingly flammable. You will only need one pinecone to get a fire going in your firepit and this can be lit without any kindling to begin with. Once the pinecone is alight, you can begin adding your kindling.
In this case, many people like to use wood split from pine tree stumps as this contains a lot of flammable resin. However, if you don’t have access to this, you can use any other type of kindling. The most important thing is to make sure that the wood is dry.
Much like the previous method, when the fire is established, you can add your larger pieces of wood such as slabs or logs. Over the course of the evening, you will need to keep adding wood to prevent the fire from going out.
3. Give It A Boost With Lighter Fluid
Lighter fluid is an incredibly flammable liquid that is designed to get a fire going. What it is not designed for is maintaining a fire so it should NEVER be added once your fire pit is alight. Doing this could, and likely will, cause the flames to suddenly burst up which could cause an injury or set something alight that you don’t want to be on fire.
We know it can be tricky to maintain a fire, but by keeping good a oxygen flow and using the right type of wood (more on that later), you will be able to do it.
Now, back to the main topic; using lighter fluid to start a fire. This is one of the easiest ways to get your fire up and running and it takes very little time. You should start by building a base for your fire as we discussed earlier on; pile up some tinder and create a pyramid with your kindling. You can now squirt some lighter fluid onto the tinder and kindling and strike your match. Throw the match on the fire from a safe distance and you’ll see it instantly come to life.
At this point, you will need to follow our earlier steps of adding more kindling until you have a steady flame. Now feel free to pop on your logs or wood slabs and enjoy one of the easiest fires you’ll have ever started.
4. Give It Some Gas
Another very easy way to start your fire pit is to use a gas line. This isn’t something that you should fit yourself, so you will need to factor in the cost of a professional. If you’re planning to get a lot of use out of your fire pit then this might be a worthwhile investment.
This method involves running the gas line to your fire pit and placing the end under your logs which will need to be situated on a grate.. When you’re ready, turn on the gas supply and, using a long lighter or match, hold the spark to the tip of the pipe which should instantly ignite. As a result, your logs will soon follow suit.
What’s great about this is that you won’t need any tinder or kindling so your fire will get going pretty quickly. That said, the logs may take a while to really catch fire and as soon as they are, you should turn off the gas and allow the fire to burn independently. Moreover, if you find yourself with slightly damp wood, it won’t be as much of an issue; just be mindful that damp wood is likely to smoke more.
5. Don’t Use Firewood
It might sound absurd to some people because firewood is at the heart of a good fire, right? Well, yes, in theory it is, but as we have just seen, gas will do just as good a job. If you don’t want the hassle of having to get your wood to ignite or perhaps you find the smoke gets on your chest, it is possible to install one of two non-wood burning systems.
The first is a clicker system which is ridiculously easy to use. These systems use gas and are very easy to use. Begin by turning the system on; you’ll have to wait a few seconds before the pilot light will ignite, this is an important safety feature. At this point, the main gas flow will turn on and your fire will begin. It really is that simple.
Alternatively, there are full gas fire pit systems that can be connected to the mains gas. Again, you will need a professional to do this but it is worth paying the extra cost for safety and if you want to get as much use as possible out of your fire pit. Using these systems is very similar to lighting a gas fire within the home using a turn dial and ignition button.
What Is The Best Wood To Use On A Fire Pit?
If you have decided to go down the traditional route and use wood on your fire pit, starting it can be made much easier by ensuring that you use the right type of wood. It is always best to purchase wood from a supplier and this will have been seasoned or kiln dried and will be ready to use. It is possible to collect wood yourself, but this might need drying out for up to two years! Nobody wants to wait that long for a fire.
You should never use damp or wet wood for two reasons. Primarily, it simply won’t light as easily. Imagine trying to set fire to a wet piece of paper; the moisture will instantly dampen the spark. The same can be said for wood. Furthermore, if you do manage to get a fire going, the wood will smoke a lot more if it is wet.
When choosing your wood, you want to opt for hardwoods like oak. These woods will not only burn more more easily but they won’t give off as many emissions making them much cleaner. But what really sets hardwood apart is the temperature at which it burns. You will sustain a much hotter fire using things like oak, maple and ash.
There are so many reasons to have a fire pit in your garden but getting it started can be pretty difficult. But you shouldn’t let this put you off as there are many ways to give your fire the boost it needs. Once you’re comfortable with your chosen method, whether that is using pinecone fire lighters or opting for a gas fire pit, you’ll have no trouble getting the flames going. Then all you need to do is sit back, relax and enjoy your fire!