DIY





How to Build a Better Fire

No matter whether you’re trying to start a fire in a woodstove, fireplace, furnace or fire pit, these simple tips will help you get a roaring blaze going in no time.

| Jan. 15, 2009

If you have ever failed in the attempt to light a wood fire on the first try, take heart! Using the right techniques and materials, you can have complete confidence that every fire you light will take off immediately and burn reliably.

Making Sure the Wood is Dry

The same rules apply whether you are starting a fire in a fireplace, woodstove, furnace, barbecue or even a camp fire built on the ground. The first thing you need to know is that the wood must be dry. No fire will light and burn reliably if the wood is damp.

Here are some ways you can tell if your wood is dry enough to burn well:

  • Look for cracks in the end grain.
  • Wood darkens as it ages, from white or cream color to gray or yellow.
  • Split a piece; the fresh surface should feel warm and dry.
  • Two pieces banged together should sound hollow, not dull.
  • Wet wood hisses and sizzles when burned and dry wood doesn’t.

The Best Choices for Kindling

To get your fire started you’ll need some small pieces of wood to use for kindling: This should be especially dry wood that’s been split small. Softwoods such as cedar and pine work best for kindling. You will need about a dozen pieces that are 1 inch across or less. You’ll need a few pieces that are bigger, maybe 2 inches across, and two or three slightly bigger pieces that will burn long enough to ignite the full-sized firewood.



Three Ways to Build a Better Fire

Now it’s time to build the fire, and there are several methods you can use to stack the wood. The old way to light a wood fire is to bunch up some newspaper, place some finely split kindling on it, put some bigger pieces on that and light the paper. The bottom-up approach can work provided enough paper and fine kindling are used.

However, this method has two serious drawbacks. First, as the paper burns the pile will collapse and the fire might smother itself. Second, you have to keep adding more wood until you have a respectable fire. I don’t recommend this method because it is too smoky, labor intensive and messy.

www.EasyWoodwork.org
5/14/2018 10:42:02 PM

I used the plans at WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG to build my own – I highly recommend you visit that website and check their plans out too. They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling… there’s like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha Go to WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG if you want some additional plans :)


Dawn Pfahl
11/26/2009 7:39:29 PM

Teepee style (placing larger kindling in a pyramid or cone around a stack of tinder or a firestarter) works well for small, quick-starting fires and as you can adjust the height and angle of the teepee, you can use it to spread a fire thin for hot coals at the edges and a hot fire in the center - great for fire-baked potatoes and roasted corn. Log cabin fires are good for putting a cooking grill over, or resting pots on (just make sure to watch that the logs supporting the pot don't burn in!). You build it the way it sounds: add larger logs at the bottom for a foundation, usually 2 parallel, and then cross sticks in layers perpendicular to the layer below. You can light from above or below - below works well for me, and the parallel logs can act as windbreaks (as with the lean-to method) for your small flame. My favorite method is probably a lean-to or teepee, since they are quick and easy to set up and require very little kindling to get going - I have been able to do one-match fires (with dry wood, of course!) for years, a skill I am very proud of!


Dana Gundlach
2/9/2009 4:47:16 PM

Great info, but... Have you ever heard of an Upside-Down Fire? Check out this http://tinyurl.com/auhr3d , this is a blog posting about the Upside-Down Fire. I built one last night and it worked fantastic. Give it a shot... Good Luck, Dana Gundlach







mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: August 4-5, 2018
Albany, OR

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE







Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard