How to Light Firewood in a Fire Pit

October 30, 2020

Learning how to light firewood in a fire pit is simple if you follow the right tips and have the right tools to use.

There are various methods as well as different fire starter products to aid you when it comes to starting a fire in a fire pit.

Once you learned how, afternoon get-togethers with friends around the fire pit will be the highlight of your weekends.

Before we start talking about how to do it, let’s first talk about the things that you need to build a fire

Things You Need

First and foremost, make sure that the area around the fire pit is safe and that no fire hazard materials are lying around.

Once you have secured it, it’s time to prepare the essential things for lighting up the firepit the traditional way.

1. Matches

Unless you are using an alternative fire starter, matches are the first thing you will need to start a fire, though matchsticks are the most convenient.

2. Tinder

Tinder is anything that will help you start the fire, like newspaper, small and dry twigs and sticks, or leaves that will easily ignite.

3. Kindling

A kindling is a dried wood that is a bit larger than the splinters but smaller than your firewood.

This will serve as the coal bed in your firepit and keep your fire burning.

4. Firewood

These are the dried logs that will be on top of your pile, which will build your fire and keep it burning longer.

5. Water

It is always advised to keep a bucket of water handy for putting out the fire once done so you don’t leave any burning embers that might be a cause for accidental fire.

How to Light Firewood in a Firepit

Each person has their way of doing things, depending on their preferences and methods that they find most comfortable for them to follow and perform.

When it comes to lighting an outdoor firepit, you don’t need to have the skills of a scout to get an open fire going.

The art of producing a flame has been around since ancient times, and we are very fortunate that igniting a fire these days is not as hard as during the time of our ancestors.

Below are ways on how to light firewood in a fire pit and some product suggestions that you can try to speed up the process of igniting a fire.

We will show you how to light firewood in a fire pit in more convenient ways through the products that we are about to recommend.

Traditional Method

Before starting the process of lighting a fire, gather the things that you will be needing.

Prepare your tinder, kindling, and your seasoned firewood, ensuring that everything is dry.

Pile a generous amount of touchwood and then place your kindling materials on top.

When doing so, make sure that you leave enough space so you can light the tinder underneath.

You can now strike a match to the tinder and let the fire consume the pile before you slowly add your firewood in a pyramid style.

Doing this ensures that there’s enough air to keep flames blazing.

Using Fatwood and Pine Cones

Using fatwood and pinecones in starting a fire removes the need to gather tinder and kindling.

Dried pinecones will serve as your splinters, while fatwood is your kindling, which usually comes from pine tree stumps that you split into smaller portions.

Fatwood contains high resin content, which, when hardened, becomes a combustible fire starter.

Using Fire Starters

A good alternative for this lighting method is the first suggested product that we want you to check.

1. Lightning Nuggets Fire Starter

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This product is the best alternative for tinder and kindling because you don’t need to search and gather dried materials as fire starters.

These lightning nuggets can light up just about anything from fire pits to wood-burning ovens or appliance, campfires, and more.

A single lightning nugget will stay on fire for 15 minutes, providing you with flame as high as eight inches and as hot as 480 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can be sure that this product is non-toxic and environmentally safe as it comes from all-natural pitch wood by-product or wood shavings.

It also has a lifetime shelf life, so it’s ok to keep this product on hand, so you always have one ready whenever and if ever you need it.

Pros:
  • Easy to use
  • Odorless
  • Effective
  • Consistent
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Needs several nuggets to start a fire
  • Crumbles
2. Bear Grylls Fire Starter

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Gerber Gear is an American company known for creating knives and other survival tools and gears, while Bear Grylls is a British survival expert and adventurer.

These two names decided to collaborate and create a series of survival gears, knives, and tools that are excellent for your outdoor activities.

This fire starter is a small and compact three-piece product fitted with a metal striker, a ferrocerium rod, and an emergency whistle all packed inside a waterproof compartment.

All three parts of the fire starter are kept secured and joined together by a lanyard for convenience.

The actual product measures 4.8 inches when closed and weighs 2.6 ounces.

The purchase of this fire starter will also include SOS and land to air instructions about rescue as well as a pocket survival guide.

Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Works even when wet
  • Durable
  • Lifetime warranty
Cons:
  • Short lanyard
  • Small compartment for tinder
  • Hard to open

3. Char-Broil Electric Starter

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This last product recommendation uses electricity to ignite a fire for your charcoal.

Most of us have a hard time starting up our charcoal grill during barbecue nights.

If you are among those experiencing that issue or concerned about the chemicals that might transfer to your food if you use starter blocks, then you might want to check this Char-Broil electric striker.

This electric charcoal starter can produce 550 watts of electricity using 120 volts of power with its stainless steel heating coil.

With this, you don’t have to use any flammable liquid or a match to heat and light up your coals.

The handle of the electric starter is of heat-resistant plastic material, so there’s no worry of getting burned when it’s time to remove the starter away from the coals.

Pros:
  • Efficient
  • Safe
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Consistent
Cons:
  • Short cord
  • For charcoal use only
  • Needs power source

Types of Firewood to Use in Fire Pits

Another element of enjoying a warm and blazing fire in your fire pits is the kind of firewood you will be using.

We talked about how to start a fire and even suggested products that you can use to make it easier for you to ignite a flame.

Now, it’s time to talk about the kind of firewood that you can use for your fire pits so that you can enjoy that warm and cozy feeling you get as you stare at a blazing fire.

Woods Not Good for Burning

Before we proceed to good firewood, let’s also take note of the woods that you should not burn.

For safety reasons, the Environmental Protection Agency has suggested that some woods should not be burned, like those that are painted, pressure-treated, or stained.

The same goes for wet, diseased, moldy, or rotted woods, as these kinds of wood can release toxins that may be harmful to the environment and those who inhale the fumes.

Driftwood, particleboard, or plywood are also not recommended for burning in your fire pits for the same reason that they may also release harmful toxins.

Lastly, while softwoods like cedar and pine are easy and quick to light, they also burn faster, which will result in burning more wood.

Best Firewood Options

You can buy little bundles of firewood in groceries or even gas stations, but are those the best option to use for your fire pits?

Here are our suggestions:

1. Black Oak or California Black Oak

This hardwood is easily found and available in the Southern California area.

It is the top choice for a slow and steady fire that lasts throughout the evening.

For best results, make sure to use a seasoned black oak or one that’s been dried for a year or two.

Black oak does not generate too much ash as compared to other types of oak firewood, making it easy to clean the fire pit.

2. White Oak or Oregon White Oak

White Oak is another standard firewood in Southern California, which can also burn long and hot, although this one generates more ash than Black Oak and other oak types of wood.

3. Coast Live Oak

This long-burning hardwood abounds in coastal regions and can burn hot without producing a lot of smoke.

However, this kind of firewood is hard to split, which might require you to use a log splitter or the services of a log trimmer.

4. Valley Oak or California White Oak

The Valley Oak is another hardwood found in California and is also an ideal choice for firewood as it burns long and slow, which means you use less wood for your fire pits.

Just like other oak woods, this variety also needs seasoning or drying for at least a couple of years before it is ready for use.

5. Walnut

Another long-burning hardwood that you can easily find in Southern California is the walnut, which does not produce a lot of smoke, as well.

6. Avocado

Avocado wood is good for starting a fire in your fire pits and is readily available in Southern and Central California.

Since this firewood burns faster than the others that we have mentioned, it is best to combine this with oak woods.

In doing this, you don’t have to continually add more logs to your fire pit once it starts burning.

7. Pacific Madrone

This kind of firewood is harder to find and more expensive than softwoods but can burn slow and offer warmth longer.

What’s more, it does not produce a lot of ashes compared to hardwoods.

This kind of firewood should be split while the wood is still green because it becomes harder to cut as it dries.

The good thing about madrone is that it is seasoned faster than oak woods and is ready for use only after a year.

8. Almond

Almond wood is another type of firewood that is hard to find, unlike oak firewoods.

This excellent firewood also costs more than the more popular ones but seasons and dries faster than oaks.

Almond wood is one of those long-burning logs that do not leave a lot of messy ashes for more easy cleanup.

9. Bigleaf Maple

This hardwood does not offer as much heat like oak or madrone but is more affordable compared to the two.

Bigleaf Maple wood also lights quicker, seasons faster, and burns longer as compared to softwoods, but not as long as oaks.

10. Ash

Ashwood is also part of the hardwood family but much more manageable to light and split than most popular hardwoods.

What is good about this type of firewood is that you can burn it even if it’s not thoroughly dried yet and will still give off enough heat to warm you up without leaving a lot of ashes.

Ashwood does not burn as long as oakwoods but is considered one of the best options for your fire pits.

Fire Pit Safety Tips

Having a fire pit in your backyard adds charm to every home and is an excellent place to spend cold nights while staring at the dancing flames.

However, fire pits also pose fire hazards if not handled and managed correctly because an errant spark can turn into a big fire.

With that said, here are some fire pit safety measures to prevent an accidental fire from happening in your backyard.

1. Fire Pit Location

The location of your fire pit is vital to your safety and the areas surrounding your property.

Make sure that your fire pit is positioned at a minimum of 10 feet to a maximum of 25 feet away from any nearby fence or structure.

Place it away from any low-hanging tree branches or under a covered porch to prevent flying embers from sticking to the leaves or porch roof.

Fire pits should be placed on non-flammable surfaces like concrete or blocks.

2. Preparing the Fire Pit

Remove all combustible materials within five feet of your fire pit area.

You can also place heaps of rocks or dirt around the fire pit to extinguish any falling embers and prevent a possible fire from spreading.

3. Lighting the Fire Pit

You would also want to check the direction of the wind before starting a fire; better yet, do not attempt to light the fire pit if it’s too windy.

Avoid using any flammable fluids in igniting a flame in your fire pit, as it may produce a large flame.

4. Using the Fire Pit

Do not leave the fire pit unattended and make sure your kids and pets are nowhere near it.

You can also put a wire mesh on top of the fire pit to contain the embers inside, and always keep a bucket of water handy.

5. Extinguishing the Fire

Once you’re done for the night, use a shovel to extinguish the flames in the fire pit, and then drown it with water before stirring the ashes to make sure that everything has been put out.

Properly discard the ashes by putting it inside a metal can and allowing it cool down completely.

Final Thoughts

There is no single way of starting a fire, and each person has their favorite method.

Just make sure that your preferred method is safe so that we can avoid accidents from happening.

For a more responsible way of using your fire pit, it is also advised that you learn what to do with the ashes from your fire pits.

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