How to Start a Fire in a Fire Pit

By Kathryn Hatter

Whether your fire pit is a means of cooking outdoors or simply provides diversion, many people enjoy passing an evening sitting around a crackling fire in a fire pit. Keep safety precautions a priority as you build your fire to avoid unnecessary and potentially serious injuries. The process of starting a fire in a fire pit is straightforward. Once you know the basics of laying a fire and keeping it burning, your fire will blaze merrily.

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Step 1

Collect the tinder, kindling and fuel you will need for your fire. Examples of tinder include newspapers, dry pine needles and straw. Kindling generally consists of thin sticks or twigs. Fuel is the larger firewood that will keep the fire burning—it must be dry (old wood) and not green to burn well in a fire, however. You will need approximately one armful each of tinder and kindling and enough fuel to keep the fire burning as long as you desire. One substantial dry log may burn for 45 minutes on average.

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Step 2

Lay the fire, beginning with the tinder first. Lay one or two handfuls of tinder down in the center of the fire pit. Place four or five pieces of kindling over the tinder in a teepee fashion (arranging the sticks around the tinder with the sticks meeting in the center above the tinder).

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Step 3

Light a match and light the tinder. Watch as the flames from the tinder reach up to the kindling and start the kindling on fire.

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Step 4

Add the smallest pieces of fuel to the fire after the kindling is burning. Carefully place the fuel onto the fire over the kindling. Expect the kindling to collapse over the tinder—this will create hot embers to keep the fire burning.

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Step 5

Add additional pieces of fuel as the smaller pieces of fuel burn up. If flames begin to wane, add additional tinder and kindling to keep flames sufficient around the fuel until the fuel catches fire.

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Step 6

Watch the fire at all times to ensure everyone's safety and ensure it continues to burn satisfactorily. If the fire wanes, add more kindling and fuel. If the fire grows larger than you desire, let it die down without adding any additional fuel until it is smaller.

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Step 7

Allow the fire to burn down naturally starting approximately one hour before you want to put it out. Stop adding fuel to the fire at this time. Smother the fire with sand or dirt when only embers remain.