How to Start a Fire in a Fire Pit
Tips & Tricks

How to Start a Fire in a Fire Pit

Many people enjoy passing evening time around a burning fire in a fire pit. Building a fire is a great skill that you should have. However, keep safety precautions as a priority when making fire to avoid potential injuries. 

The starting fire process is straightforward. First, you should ensure you have dry wood, dry kindling, firelighters, and tinders to start the fire. You may need to purchase special fire-starting wood to make the process easier. 

Lay some tinder at the base of the fire pit. Tinder is any small, dry material that will light and burn quickly, like dry leaves, wood shavings, or paper. Make a teepee with kindling above the tinder, then wood, and remember to leave a small hole. Then light the tinder, and the fire should start.

How to Prepare a Fire Pit for a Fire

Before lighting a fire, it’s best to ensure the fire pit is clean and dry. If there are any remnants from previous fires, they can be helpful as long as they aren’t wet. Those remnants and rubbish form a good base for the fire and make the fire starting process easy. 

Again, always remember to follow the safety precautions as you prepare your fire pit;

  • Ensure the fire pit is on level ground, preventing tipping over and spilling lit materials, especially when using a pit structure. 
  • Make sure the ground material and surface are fire-resistant. For instance, you shouldn’t start in an area with lots of dry grass. Also, don’t place a fire pit under a tree as it can catch fire. Instead, build a fire on concrete or brick that won’t combust if it gets into contact with fire.
  • Keep some distance from buildings and structures. The best is at least 10 feet from any structure. 
  • Have a water source around, just in case of an emergency. 
  • Use fire pit screens. It transfers heat to the surroundings and prevents embers or flammable materials from escaping.
  • Keep your chairs away from the fire pit at a safe distance in case the chair tumbles over.
  • Watch out for the children and pets.
  • Don’t leave your fire unattended; you should watch it until it’s safely put out. 
  • Use a fire ring or have a large fire pit than the fire.
  • Extinguish the fire properly before you leave.

Gather the materials to use in the fire pit. With a fire pit on even ground, a safe distance from structures, it’s time to gather the necessary materials. Some of the four components required include;

  • Firestarters – the common ones are lighters and matches. Others include butane torch lighter and arc lighters( rechargeable and environmentally friendly). 
  • Tinder– includes any materials like grass, newspaper, leaves straw. These materials are necessary as they easily catch fire when dry and help light the wood. 
  • Kindling – it’s the materials that catch fire from the tinder. It consists of small sticks of one-inch circumference. They should have a length of 5-8 inches and be thin so they can easily catch fire.
  • Firewood– you should use dry wood and the type you prefer. Some may burn hotter and longer than others, like oak. The size of the wood will depend on your fire pit, but the length should be 16 inches. 

How Do You Start a Fire in a Fire Pit Fast?

There are many ways to start a fire, depending on the materials at your disposal. However, the stacking method remains the same. What do you put in the bottom of a fire pit? You start with the tinder, kindling, then firewood. 

To start your fire easily, ensure you choose dry and flammable materials, for instance; 

  • Combine newspapers and vegetable oil. You should crumble the newspapers into tight little balls and soak them in vegetable oil. Use this as your tinder.
  • Use twigs, pinecones, and bark. These materials burn quickly and will establish a fire fast. 
  • Use potato chips. After lighting them, they burn for approximately 3 minutes. 
  • Use lighter fluid safely, as explained below. 
  • Use dry logs with the lowest moisture content. 

Pro Tip: ensure you have enough air for the fire to light. As you stack the materials, leave a space underneath to allow oxygen which supports combustion. 

Light a Fire Pit Without Smoke

As you make your fire, you want it to be smokeless and have an easy moment. Some of the tips to apply include;

  • Always use ready-to-burn certified logs. Buy dry kiln logs with a moisture content below 20%. If possible, have the lowest moisture content possible; this will protect you from smoke.
  • Throw away any remnants on the fire pit that are old and damp; these result to smoke.
  • Use kindling to light your fire; they will help the fire build slowly.
  • Use kiln-dried soft logs to build a fire. If you don’t have any softwood logs, use more kindling. 
  • Use dry kiln hardwood to keep the fire burning. The softwoods will burn away quickly, so add a few hardwood logs to sustain the fire.

How to Start a Fire in a Fire Pit Without Kindling

Kindling entails using small sticks that are very dry to start a fire. These pieces are flammable and hold the heat allowing the larger pieces of wood to ignite. In a situation you don’t have the kindling, you can still start a fire in a fire pit without kindling using follow;

  • Use flammable liquids. Some liquids like alcohol, kerosene, methylated spirit, and lighter fluids are highly flammable and can help make a fire. For precaution, you should apply any fluids to a fabric or piece of paper when it’s cold and use it to light the fire. Never keep the bottle near the fire as the liquids are explosive. 
  • Use tinder. Use a mixture of available tinders, like wood shavings and sawdust. 

Other materials you can use include;

  • Cotton 
  • Dried moss
  • Feathers
  • Firestarter bricks
  • Tied newspaper
  • Potato chips burn well due to the fat inside.
  • Dry bark
  • Pinecones
  • Pine needles 
  • Fibrous leaves
  • Twigs 
  • Dry grass

Other ways you can apply to establish a fire without kindling include; 

  • Use smaller logs that are easy to catch alight than larger ones
  • Build a fire in a top-down method – it’s the reverse way of stacking materials in a fire pit. It will ensure the materials keeps burning until the logs catch fire.
  • Use alternative fire starters like long-lasting firelighters

How to Start Fire in a Fire Pit with Lighter Fluid

A lighter fluid becomes the easy way to light your fire pit blaze. However, you ought to be very vigilant when using this method. Don’t use lighter fluid on an already existing fire, as this will cause flaring up flames that can injure you. Again, ensure your hands and clothes don’t contact the fluid since they will also turn extra combustible.

The safe way to start a fire with lighter fluid is by dousing wood before stacking it on the fire pit. You also need some tinder underneath the stack for easy lighting. Finally, use a match to light a paper, and your fire will start. 

How to Start a Fire in a Fire Pit with a Fire Starter

A fire starter is a perfect way to start your fire. It consists of a block with a flint strip and a blade. If your starter has only one part, use a knife as the blade. Then, strike a flint strip with the blade as you would with a match to produce sparks. 

Remember the force and speed you apply will affect the sparks produced. If the lighting fails, you should try to adjust any of these factors. Once the tinder gets into contact with the spark, the fire will start.

Pro tip: You should drag the blade along the flint strip. Hold the blade steadily as you strike it to avoid accidents, especially with your knife. 

How to Keep a Fire in a Fire Pit Going

You should add more kindling and tinder for the logs to keep burning to maintain your fire. Also, keep adding dry firewood as needed. Finally, if the charred logs fall and suffocate the flame, rotate them and spread them apart.


There are various techniques for starting a fire, as explained above. You can use tinder, kindling, or even other alternatives to kindling. The safe and fastest way is using other flammable tinder materials, like dry barks, pine cones, and newspapers with vegetable oil. But if you don’t have any of the materials, you can consider using lighter fluid as a precaution.