Knowing how to start a fire in a fire pit will save you a lot of headaches, especially if you are a beginner. Imagine calling your loved ones in the middle of a freezing winter evening because you need to light a fire but don’t know how to do it? Luckily, lighting a fire in a fire pit can be as easy as ABC, regardless of the fuel you’re using. The secret is to learn early, know what style suits you, and prepare yourself with all the necessary ingredients for the fire. Most importantly is understanding all safety requirements to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your home safe as you enjoy the sweet embers of a fire. 

How To Start a Fire In a Fire Pit

As you prepare to start a firepit fire, choosing an ideal ventilated place is vital, not enclosed or close to a hanging tree. It’s also important to ensure you have at least 36-feet of clearing on either side of the fire pit. Why? Because any area that meets all these conditions is a first ticket to lighting a home or location on fire. To that end, safety is of utmost importance before lighting your fire. 

Second, you can confirm whether your area allows residents to light outdoor fires. If so, what are the rules? This will help you light your fire in peace, knowing you are within the specific regulations: 

Start a Fire In a Fire Pit


Without further ado, here’s how to start a fire in a fire pit:

1. With Firewood 

The most common and more traditional method is using firewood. It can be a bit overwhelming and time-consuming for a beginner, but it gets easier once you get the hang of it. 

Start by gathering dry:

  • Firewood, like slabs of wood or logs 

  • Tinder, like cedar or birch bark shavings, pine needles, dry lint, or cotton balls 

  • Kindling - small twigs, wood splinters, or small twigs of about 1-inch in diameter 

Once you have items ready, make a pile of tinder, and be as generous as possible. Top it up with the kindling, starting with the smaller pieces and graduating to larger ones in a pyramid-like shape. Finally, add the larger pieces of firewood, logs, or wood, depending on what you are using, and light it up. 

Depending on how long you want your fire to last, you can add more firewood to keep it going. 

2. Using Gas and Logs 

If you are looking for a more straightforward method that doesn’t require tinder and kindling, this will come in handy. All you need are your logs and a line of gas. There are stainless steel burner pipes for running the fuel to your firepit. Ensure it has a safety valve and a key for shutting on and off on a need basis. Additionally, you will need a log grate. It cradles the firewood on top of the log lighter, allowing maximum oxygen flow. 

Once you have all your materials ready, make a pile on the fire pit with your firewood. When ready, turn the valve key to allow the fuel to run through the firewood. Then, use a match under the stack of wood or a long lighter to put the fire on. 

The best gas to use for this is either propane pr natural gas. This method is also perfect when your food is not as dry. However, ensure you confirm the fire regulations in your location to ensure you are not using gas against the set laws. 

3. Using Pine Cones and Fatwood

Another method that saves you from gathering many items as kindling and tinder is lighting a fire with pines cones. In fact, these will be your new tinder. First, ensure that you are using dry pine cones. The best to use are longleaf or Loblolly pine cones. Then, get fatwood, splits of pine tree stumps. These will be your kindling. It becomes more flammable thanks to its high resin residue that gets concentrated as the wood hardens. 

To light the fire, place your dry pine cones in the fire pit and light it up. As the fire starts, place the pieces of fatwood on top of the pinewood. It would be best if you put them in a criss-cross design. In a short time, your fire will start to strengthen. This is where you start adding your firewood. 

4. The Gas and No Firewood Trick 

While many fire pit enthusiasts enjoy lighting firewood, it might not be necessarily available in your area. Or you are allergic to the smoke. Does that mean you cannot enjoy a backyard fire in your backyard? Absolutely not, as long as your local regulations allow outdoor gas-lighting.  

First, get a fuel system with a burner and control knob. Connect it to your gas system, and whenever you need a fire in your fire pit, you can light it up. It is advisable to use a professional to install this and show you how to handle it.

5. Go Technical 

While the above gas and no firewood method is easy and manageable, an alternative is getting a little technical with a clicker. These are remote-controlled lighting systems that also use gas. They are also safe as they have a safety feature that constantly monitors the flame, temperatures, and voltage. In case of any issues, it will go off automatically and cut the gas supply. Gain, ensure you confirm the laws in your location to ensure you are not flaunting any regulations.  

DIY Fire Starters For The Fire Pit

Can you get a little creative with your fire? Absolutely! It doesn’t matter whether you are a dee creative brimming with ideas or not, there are certainly some easy DIY fire starters you can indulge in. If you throw your favorite essential oils in the mix, you will basically be enjoying some scented fire all night long. Other DIY styles allow you to repurpose some items instead of growing them away. 

DIY Fire Starters For The Fire Pit


To that end, below are some DIY fire starters to try:

1. Pinecone And Essential Oils

If you are looking to spruce up your outdoor scents, there’s no better way to do it than lighting a fire with pinecones and your favorite essential oils. First, gather some pinecones, unscented wax or candles, and thread. Start by melting the wax and adding the essential oil of your choice. It is necessary to use unscented wax or candles to avoid conflict with the essential oil. Next, remember the thread you have? Tie it up to your pinecones. 

Once the wax has melted and you’ve mixed it thoroughly with the essential oil, dip the pinecones. Cover it all up with wax. You can dip the pinecones once or a few more times. It all depends on how much wax you have or want to apply to the pinecones. Then, hang the pinecones somewhere and allow the wax to dry up. 

Once the waxed pinecones are completely dry, they are perfect for use. Be careful when carrying them to the firepit to ensure you don’t mess with the max.

2. Paper Towels With Cooking Oil

Do you have some lefty over cooking oil and paper towels and don’t know what to do with them? How about recycling them in your fire pit? All you need to do is gather the aper towels after dinner. Then, soak them in the leftover oil you have and start using. While you can use them immediately, you can also wait for the apr towels to dry out. Either way is still okay because the two components, oil, and paper towels, are highly flammable. 

3. Sawdust Fire Cupcakes

Do you have a workshop or know one where you can collect sawdust? Perfect! Get some sawdust, wax, or candles and a flammable piece for placing the sawdust and wax. You can use cardboard boxes, egg boxes made from cardboard, or paper muffin wraps. Whatever flammable piece you settle on, fill it with sawdust (don’t pack it too tightly), and pour the wax over it. 

Give it time to dry and harden. Since both the sawdust and wax are highly flammable, you will light your fire pit without so much a hassle. You also don’t have to be worried about the fire going out too quickly. The wax helps in slowing down the burning. 

4. Using Leftover Food 

Hardwood such as beech, oak, and ash is best for burning in a fire pit. They provide a long-lasting burn than softwood. They also have more efficient heat output, making them ideal for cooking. But, if you are looking to add a little flavor or smokey taste, Applewood and hickory are excellent choices.

FAQ

What Is The Best Thing To Burn In a Fire Pit?

Hardwood such as beech, oak, and ash is best for burning in a fire pit. That's because they provide a long-lasting burn than softwood. They also have more efficient heat output, making them ideal for cooking. But, if you are looking to add a little flavor or smokey taste, Applewood and hickory are excellent choices. 

How Do You Start a Fire In a Fire Pit And Keep It Going 

  • Before lighting any fire, first ensure that it is dry. You might see any water pools, but does it have moisture? This is common in outdoor fire pits, affecting your efforts. In fact, your fire might start going out as soon as you light it. Or not light up at all because the firewood will attract moisture. Ensure that you wipe your fire pit with a piece of clothing or paper towel before lighting any firewood.  

  • Using dry firewood is key to keeping the fire burning. But don’t let your eyes fool you into thinking your firewood is dry. The secret is to ensure that the wood you are burning has a 20% or below moisture level.

  • Burning larger pieces of firewood will have your fire pit going all night long. While smaller pieces catch faster, they also burn out faster. Solution? Use smaller pieces of firewood to light your fire pit. Place the large pieces on top of the smaller pieces. Once the fire starts and the large pieces catch fire, they burn more efficiently and prolonged time.  

  • That said, give the fire space to breathe. A fire pit will require enough oxygen to keep burning. If you stack a lot of firewood without any breathing space, it will undoubtedly go off in no time. You can give your fire pit breathing space by arranging the firewood in v-shape 

  • Feed your fire with more firewood when it runs out, and you want to keep it going.

  • If your fire pit is portable, ensure that you place it next to a windbreak. Anything other than these places only means the blowing wind will extinguish your fire in no time. While at it, make a note of placing the fire pit away from any flammable items, including surfaces of the house. It only takes a stray ember of fire to light everything on fire. 

  • Speaking of wind, be aware of the weather forecast in your area. If there is any forecast of rain, high humidity, or bad weather, it is only sensible not to light any fire and avoid possible disappointments. 

How Do You Start a Fire In a Fire Pit Without Lighter Fluid

If you are out of lighter fluid, you can always turn to propane, kindling, or a fire starter to start a fire. What happens if you don’t have any of these? It doesn't mean you can start your fire. All you need is a piece of paper, some vegetable oil, a lighter, and you are good to go. 

The above tips on how to start a fire in a fire pit are pretty easy, even for a beginner. However, if you are looking for a traditional feel and look, using firewood, kindling and tinder is the perfect way to light your fire pit. That said, if you have no access to firewood, don’t like the smoke, and have plenty of access to gas, you can get a clicker or a normal fire pit gas burner. Better still, play around with your creativity by going DIY with a few methods, like lighting paper towels and essential oils for a nice-scented flame. 

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