Being able to build a fire is not only a useful skill, it could actually prove necessary in certain circumstances. Though it is not common in the modern age to find oneself in need of heat or a means to cook, learning to use kindling to create your own fire is great way to protect against an unpredictable situation. Fortunately, understanding a few basic guidelines can be all it takes to ensure your fire is a success.

Man Burning Firewood In Fire Pit At Campsite
credit: Kai Branss / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages
How to Use Kindling

Safety Considerations When Building a Fire

Before you get started, consider a few safety issues. If you'll be building a fire outside, be sure that you are situated as far as possible from buildings, trees and other vegetation. A rogue spark can lead to a disastrous situation, so an isolated location is key. A fire pit creates the safest environment for an outdoor fire. You don't need anything extremely sophisticated; a fire pit can be as simple as a hole in the ground.

If you will be building a fire indoors, be sure the fireplace has been cleaned and inspected within the last year before proceeding. Animals can build nests in fireplace flues, or leaves and other yard debris can build up. These can pose serious hazards. Additionally, check that the fireplace has a solid grate and screen to keep flames, or even embers, from getting inside the house. Be sure to open the flue before you get started.

Whether your fire will be built outside or indoors, you should have a bucket of water on hand in the event of an emergency. Instruct small children who are present how they should react if the fire spreads and be prepared to call the fire department if need be.

What You’ll Need

To build a fire, you'll need some basic tools. These include matches or a lighter, tinder, kindling and logs. Be sure all wood you are using for your fire is dry, because wet wood won't burn properly. In addition, some varieties of wood, like pine, can actually become very smoky and unpleasant when burned.

Tinder is what you'll place in the center of your fire pit or fireplace. This is comprised of small sticks, twigs or other natural materials that can catch on fire easily. Newspapers can also function as tinder, but be careful when burning paper products that contain chemicals or make use of colored inks.

Before you light anything on fire, though, you'll need to arrange your kindling, comprised of larger sticks, into a teepee shape on top of the tinder. Leave a bit of a space in the teepee shape so that you can reach in and light the tinder on fire. If you'll be using a match, you can just throw it carefully into the center. If you're using a lighter or another fire starter, you'll want to be sure you can quickly and safely remove your hand once the fire is lit.

Once you've successfully built a fire using tinder and kindling, you can gradually add larger and larger sticks or logs to keep the fire burning. Having a fire poker or large stick to move the logs around can be a huge help when it comes to keeping the blaze going.