How To Start A Fire Pit: Wood Burning

Have you recently installed a fire pit into your garden and aren’t sure how to use it? Or perhaps you have moved, and your new property has a fire pit, but you don’t know where to begin or how to approach it? Whatever your reason might be, using your fire pit can be a daunting task! 

Whether you are struggling to light the fire pit and keep the fire burning or are unsure which wood you should be using or how to pile it, finding the answers you need can be challenging! It leaves many of us with a headache and a slight fear of our fire pit. We want to ensure that our fire pit is safe and functional for use while still enjoying it. 

Well, wonder and worry about your fire pit no more! We are here today with a guide to the right woods you need for your fire and how to start a fire pit. Keep reading for your one-stop guide to lighting your fire pit! 

How to Start Your Fire Pit – Quick Answer 

In a hurry? Then save yourself some scrolling and check out how to start a fire pit fire now! This is just a quick answer, so be sure to keep reading if you want more information. 

  1. Place tinder in a small pile at the bottom of the fire pit. Next, use your kindling to form a teepee-like structure over the pile of tinder. 
  2. Light the tinder carefully and wait for the kindle to start burning too. 
  3. Once the kindling is burning, add seasoned or kiln-dried split firewood logs. Add these one at a time, ensuring proper airflow is allowed between the logs. Ideally, you want a teepee, log cabin, or pyramid structure built. 
  4. Add more logs when the fire starts to wane. Take care when adding logs as the fire can shift, throwing embers and other debris out of the fire pit. Make sure everyone is a safe distance away when adding logs to your firepit. 

And that is how you start your fire pit fire and maintain it! Before using your fire pit, take note of your surroundings and check that your fire pit is in the correct place, away from unintended fuel sources, away from structures, and compliant with the local fire code. You will also need to check if it meets HOA covenants if you have an HOA. 

If you want more information about starting your fire pit, the preparation, and what wood to use, then just keep reading! 

Preparing your Fire Pit: Where to Start?

Preparing your fire pit can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be! We will walk you through everything that you need to prepare and start your fire pit today. Use the checklist below to gather the necessary supplies and begin your fire today!

For your fire pit fire, you will need: 

  • Tinder 
  • Kindling 
  • Seasoned firewood
  • A firestarter like matches or a lighter
  • Water for emergencies
  • Log tongs
  • Heat resistant gloves 

You should avoid wearing loose clothing, too, if you are trending the fire as this can be dangerous and might ignite if you stand too close! Once you have got the items on the list above, you can jump down to how to start your fire and get cracking. 

If you aren’t too sure what some of the terms listed mean, then keep on reading. We have some nifty breakdowns for you that will make understanding and using your fire pit super easy!

What’s Tinder?

Not to be confused with the swipe happy app, tinder is materials that are easily lit by a quick-burning fuel source. It will get your kindling burning, and eventually, your logs to create your fire and those wonderful flickering flames that you crave. 

You can use a range of materials for tinder, such as pine needles, fatwood shavings, newspaper, leaves, and tree bark (birch bark is our favorite). Use whatever suits you best; just make sure that it’s dry when you use it for the best results. 

Some people even use the lint from a clothes dryer or empty toilet roll tubes! Anything that you would otherwise throw out can be used as tinder, providing it dries and burns quickly! Why not start a little stockpile today, so you are never without tinder?

What’s Kindling?

Unlike Tinder, kindling is the sticks, twigs, branches, and small pieces of wood that will burn long enough when ignited to get the main fuel source in your firepit going. 

For kindling, use softwoods as these will burn quicker and spread, allowing your hardwoods to ignite faster. You can also use pine, poplar, cedar, and spruce as your kindling and tinder if you wish. 

What’s Seasoned Firewood?

Seasoned firewood will have been cut and stacked in a space that allows it to dry out. You want a 25% or below moisture content for seasoned firewood, although 20% or lower is the ideal moisture content. Drying the wood is known as the seasoning process and can take six months to three years, depending on the wood used. 

Ensure that you have correctly seasoned firewood for your firepit so that it lights quickly, stays lit, and burns hotter and cleaner than firewood that hasn’t been seasoned or dried. 

Seasoned beech, oak, maple, and birch firewood are fantastic options that you can use in your firepit. Be sure to do your research and shop around to find the best prices in your local area. The cost of seasoned firewood and shipment can vary depending on the supplier, so thorough research beforehand can save you some money in the long run! 

Alternatively, you can use the wood on your property if it’s suitable. You will need to chop, stack and season the wood yourself, a daunting task for some. If that applies to you, you might be better suited to kin or air-dried firewoods that can be used in your firepit. Let’s take a quick look at those options now. 

What’s Kiln-Dried Firewood?

Kiln-dried firewood is green wood that has been placed in a specific kiln to reduce its moisture content. It will have less than 25% moisture content, allowing it to burn more effectively than unseasoned or dried woods. 

Kiln-drying firewood eliminates any insects on or in the wood, an option many enjoy. It’s fantastic for those who store some or all of their wood indoors; you won’t need to wage war on the cast of A Bug’s Life now! 

Kiln-dried firewood isn’t widely available, though, and finding a supplier can be tricky. It’s best to do your research and shop around for an option that best suits you. You might find higher shipping costs to get the kiln-dried wood to you, so consider this in your budget when deciding if it’s the right wood for you.

Starting the Fire – What are my options?

There are a few options when it comes to starting your fire. You can use kitchen lighters if you wish, but we find them a bit troublesome to use. There’s never any fuel in them, and they don’t stay lit for very long. They are also a nightmare to use outside if there’s a tiny scrap of wind, and frankly, are best left forgotten about in a kitchen drawer. 

So what can you use to start your fire? Well, any of the below options can be used successfully! We will also list any limitations of the methods below so that you can pick the one that best suits you and your fire. 

Disposable lighters – can be used, or the branded Zippo lighters if you have them to hand. Avoid using them in the wind as it blows the flame out quickly, but these are options that work well on dry and still days. 

Matches – have a similar issue as lighters do and should be avoided in windy conditions. They can be used in a pinch, though, with most homes having a box lurking somewhere. 

Electric arc lighters – work well in the wind and aren’t too expensive either. You can buy multi-packs for a very reasonable price. The less you spend, though, the poorer the quality can be. Treat them more like a disposable option than reusable unless you are prepared to splash the cash on them!

Butane torch lighters – are another reliable lighter you can use that should not break the bank. Again, the affordable options don’t always feature the best quality, so it’s best to do some research and shopping around. Blazer is a reliable brand that delivers good quality; just be prepared to spend a little more on the lighter. 

Consider these options and select the fire starting method that best suits you. Remember to check the weather beforehand, as windy conditions make it difficult for some of these options to start your fire successfully. 

The Fire – How to Start, Maintain, and Put It Out 

Now that we have covered the preparation, wood, and lighting options, let’s get into what you came here for today: starting your fire pit! Gather everything that you need in your firepit, and you are ready to begin the process of building and lighting your fire pit. 

You can follow the step-by-step guide below to do so. To make it easier for you to follow, we have divided it into starting, maintaining, and putting out the fire. Read the whole process, or just jump to the section you need to know about! 

How to Start The Fire Pit Fire 

  1. To begin, positing a pile of tinder in the center of the firepit. You will want this to be as big as an adult first roughly. 
  2. Next, make a teepee-like frame with your kindling. This should be directly above your tinter. Again, place this in the center of the fire pit with the sticks and twigs close together. Allow some gaps for airflow and lighting too. 
  3. Find a gap in your teepee between the kindling and light the pile of tinder, using your firestarter of choice. 
  4. Once the kindling has begun to burn, place the seasoned or kiln-dried firewood in the firepit. 
  5. Place your firewood in a teepee, log cabin, or pyramid stack. This allows a concentration of fuel for the fire but still has gaps for the necessary airflow. 

And that is your fire pit fire lit! As you can see, there aren’t too many steps to this, and it should come together fairly quickly, providing there is enough tinder and kindling to keep the fire going. Let’s take a quick look now at maintaining the fire. 

How to Keep the Firepit Fire Burning 

To keep the fire burning in your fire pit, you will want to keep adding tinder, kindling, and any seasoned firewood that you see fit. Add your tinder and kindling to keep the main fuel source of your fire burning. You should do this if you notice that your seasoned firewood does not light appropriately and burn as it should. 

When the fire starts to reduce too, you can add more kindling and tinder, as well as your seasoned firewood. Take care when doing this to ensure your safety and the safety of others at all times. You don’t want your fire to be put out, so ensure that all wood used is completely dry before placing it on the fire. 

How to Put your Fire Pit Fire Out 

  1. Stop adding wood to the fire when you are almost ready to stop using it. The fire will then begin to go out on its own. 
  2. After an appropriate amount of time, the fire will die down enough to extinguish the embers. Use either sand to smother the fire or water to soak the embers. 
  3. If using water, stir the water and embers together with a shovel to ensure they are completely saturated. 
  4. Keep any children and pets away from the fire pit, too, as theory can still be extremely hot and dangerous areas. 
  5. Eventually, your fire will go out completely, and the firepit should cool down competently overnight. 

And just like that, your fire pit has been lit, maintained, and extinguished! Providing you follow the steps listed today, you should be able to enjoy your firepit fire whenever the mood takes you.

Remember, though, that this is just a rough guide, and you will still need to take care and contact professionals if need be. Ensure that everyone is safe around the fire and that you maintain the correct safety at all times. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Get your last-minute queries answered here before you leave! 

Where can I get my kindling from? 

The easiest option is to look for sticks and twigs when out walking. For those that live in rural areas or near parks, take a bag with you and get collecting! Any twigs or sticks on the ground are perfect to use, although you might have to find some dogs for them! 

Another option is to purchase pre-boxed fatwood kindling. It’s essentially a resin-rich by-product of longleaf and other pine varieties. The resin is naturally occurring and very flammable, making it perfect for starting fires! 

You can also ask your firewood supplier for softwood kindling that is similar to fatwood if you wish. Fir, spruce, juniper, and cedar are all excellent options that you can use. 

What’s the worst firewood to start?

Although they are extremely popular choices, beech and oak firewood can be a nightmare to get started! Once they have started burning, though, they will burn very hot and for a long time. For best results, you will want lots of quick-burning softwood kindling that will keep the fire burning as long as possible. 

You can also purchase firestarter products that burn hot and long enough to get even the most stubborn firewood going! You can try Insta Fire, where you add two tablespoons to your fire for the flames to spread across your logs. You will need to place it in a pile so that it’s concentrated and against the wood in your stack for best results.

What do I do with my fire pit ashes?

Allow at least 2-3 days for the ash to cool completely before transferring them to a disposable bag or container. If they have not cooled completely, they can burn or start another fire in the bag, not what you want! Once the fire pit ashes have completely cooled, they can be disposed of in your garbage pickup with other non-recyclable waste.

Alternatively, you can use the ash in your home and garden if needed. The ash can defrost your sidewalk and drive in the winter and be used in your garden to help vegetables grow! The lime and potassium content in ash makes it ideal for placing with artichokes, tomatoes, and broccoli!

Final Word 

And just like that, we have come to the end of our fire pit journey today! As you can see, starting your fire pit isn’t too difficult, but it can take some practice to get it right.

Take your time, and don’t be afraid to tweak the steps if needed to suit you. Remember that this is just a guide; not all wood-burning fire pits are the same, and you will need to consider yours and its needs before starting the fire. 

Once you have mastered the process, though, there will be no stopping you! Start a stockpile of the materials you need to start your fire and ensure that whenever you want to light your fire pit, you can! 

Be sure to remain vigilant and safe at all times. Ensure that you have protective gloves, log tongs, and a water supply on hand always to allow you to deal with any issues that could arise. Keep the kit in an area that’s easy to reach, so you aren’t rooting around while trouble burns! 

You will also want to keep your fire pit, especially a portable model, on a level surface far away from things you don’t want to catch on fire! Providing that all the safety criteria have been met and you follow the steps listed today, you are sure to have a successful fire pit that keeps you warm and happy all night long!