How to Light an Outdoor Fire

The Traditional Method of Lighting an Outdoor Fire

The traditional method of lighting an outdoor fire – which works very well for lighting a fire pit fire is to start with kindling and work your way up.  This traditional method of lighting a fire is considered by some to be an art and often the ‘firelighter’ takes on a somber persona demonstrating the importance of his/her position. In fact it is not difficult to light an outdoor fire using the traditional method. But for it to be successful each step needs to be followed and adhered to – no cheating allowed!

Step One on How to Light an Outdoor Fire

The first step in lighting a fire using the tried and true traditional method of lighting an outdoor fire involves the collection of the material which is to be burnt. This includes collecting small sticks and twigs referred to as kindling or tinder. All wood used on the fire including both the tinder and larger stick and logs must be dry. Wet wood does not burn well. Sometimes it will not burn at all, and sometimes you will be rewarded by a very smoky and unpleasant fire pit experience.

Collecting Tinder

Collecting tinder or kindling when camping is quite easy and can be good family fun with the kids all competing to see who can collect the most twigs. Finding kindling in your own suburban backyard might be a bit more of a challenge and it may mean that you needed to start hording tinder through the summer…

Another possibility for obtaining kindling is to purchase smaller pieces of wood (along with the larger logs) and to chop these smaller pieces into even smaller pieces. You could also go for a walk in your local park and may find sufficient dry tinder there…. It is also sometimes possible to purchase kindling but these pieces are often still a little large.


You will also need paper, traditionally it has been newspaper that was used, but nowadays there is not that much newspaper around! We still receive our local newspaper so we use that for lighting our fire pit fires, but if you don’t have newspaper almost any paper will do. Just steer away from the highly glossy magazine pages as they are not as quick to burn and also contain noxious chemicals resulting in an unpleasant smoke whilst they are being burnt.

Larger Pieces of Firewood and Logs

If you don’t know where to buy firewood just Google Where can I buy firewood (and then your location). You can buy firewood from firewood suppliers, possibly through Gumtree and even Bunnings has firewood for sale.

Step Two on How to Light an Outdoor Fire

Step two involves building the fire. You start with your paper which you should scrunch up into a ball, about three or four pages of your local newspaper should do. It’s probably better to make several scrunched up balls of newspaper.

Place the newspaper in the centre of your fire pit. Now you need to start to construct a teepee by vertically leaning your kindling against the rolls of paper, circling the paper such that you have a construction that looks just like the teepee that you played in as a child.

Now you need to start to add slightly larger pieces of wood but make sure that they are not so heavy that your teepee collapses… Keep the really heavy logs of wood for adding to the fire later one.

Step Three on How to Light an Outdoor Fire

Now you can finally light your outdoor fire in your fire pit. If you are using matches the longer ones are great as you have less chance of burning fingers. Light the paper at several different places and if you kindling is small enough and dry enough this will catch on fire as well. As your fire grows add more kindling and also more of the larger pieces of firewood. Once your fire is fully established you can put on a log or two of wood. Don’t rush putting on larger pieces of firewood, if you do t his too quickly you are likely to smother your fire pit fire.

One final but very important point when having a fire in your outdoor fire pit is that you should have a source of water near your fire pit fire – whether it be the garden hose or a bucket, for just those events that you think will never happen to you…

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