How to Start a Fire in a Fire Pit

Fire is essential for outdoor survival. Look at it this way; in the absence of resources such as electricity, fire becomes the only reasonable approach for preparing meals and more. In this guide, we shall look at the common tips for how to start a fire in a fire pit. You will learn about the different types of techniques that are useful for making a fire, including materials to use as well as putting out the fire.

There is a unique primal link that man shares with fire. To be specific, our ancestors used fire for various purposes. It was a source of warmth, protection from wild animals, a source of light, and a way to cook food. Even though fire does not necessarily have the same purpose today as it did in the past, it's still important in our day to day lives. For instance, a fire pit offers an excellent solution for enjoying leisure time outdoors as you make marshmallows. Before you can enjoy the benefits of a fire pit, consider the tips below: 

  • Create a Fire Bed 

Safety is the first important factor to consider when you want to make a fire pit outdoors. This way, you avoid any adverse issues such as wildfires that can damage property. For instance, when camping outdoors, ensure that you determine whether your chosen location is appropriate for starting a fire. If your camping area lacks proper terrain, then you might have to make your own. Consider selecting a site far from bushes, trees, and various other types of material.

Furthermore, you should place the fire bed on the bare earth. Once you’ve cleaned the designated area, you can start to prepare the fire pit itself. You will begin by gathering some dirt and putting it in one convenient location. 

  • Gather the Wood Material 

Some common materials are useful for starting a campfire. They include kindling, tinder, and fuelwood. A description of these items is available below:

  • Tinder – the ideal campfire has to start with the appropriate tinder material. The benefit of tinder is that it catches fire rather easy, and it also burns well. Consider using equipment such as dry leaves, bark, grass, and more for making tinder. A savvy camper will bring their own tinder, such as dry lint material, which starts relatively easy.
  • Kindling – the average burn time for tinder is short, thus you need more material to increase the flame. However, you can't bring in big logs at this point yet. It will just smother the fire. Once the tinder burns completely, put in some kindling material, which often comprises of small branches. Consider short using short and dry sticks because they are simpler to manage.
  • Fuelwood – this is the material that you will use to keep your fire burning. Unlike tinder and kindling, fuelwoods are much larger and can burn for several hours consistently. There are various types of fuelwood that you can purchase for your fire pit. More so, the logs don't necessarily have to be as big as logs.

NB: As you can see, lighter fluid is not on this list. Many campers look down up on it because it is often dangerous, and it's not imperative for starting a fire pit. At best, it will only help you make bad marshmallows, and at worst, you could even end up starting an uncontrollable fire. All you need for a fire pit, is some tinder, kindling and wood.

General Tips for Managing a Fire Pit

The first most important factor to consider when making a fire is to prepare a proper fire pit for your needs. To be specific, the ideal location for the pit should be somewhere dry, and away from heavy user traffic. Furthermore, when you want to gather firewood, go for materials that break or snap easily. Dry material burns fast, and will easily produce a powerful flame for your materials. 

Also, make fires in locations that are dedicated for fireplaces, grills, and popular fire rings. Most modern-day camping sites have a specific location for these. Using a fire ring is convenient and makes it easy to keep the fire contained.

Consider consulting with the operator of the given site, to determine whether fires are permitted. In some locations, dry periods can cause the state and legal entities to prohibit fires from campgrounds. In backcountry locations where lighting fires are allowed, you can take advantage of an existing fire ring. You can make a new one in emergencies, but ensure that you adhere to the rules associated with lighting a fire in such areas. 

Before starting the fire, collect adequate kindling, tinder, and fuel that will be sufficient for your fire. You might be surprised at how fast the fire material burns as you start the fire.

Laying a Fire Pit Done Right

There are several techniques you can use to start a fire. The typical steps you will come across include:

  • Put a long piece of kindling to the ground at a 35-degree angle. One rear of the stick should be facing the air 
  • Place the tinder material under the pivot stick 
  • Then, put a small amount of kindling material around the tinder 
  • Also, place some small pieces of kindling on the material pieces you put in the ground. After that, lay some bigger pieces of kindling 
  • Using a lighter or matchstick, light the tinder and monitor the burning process

Putting Out A Fire Pit the Right Way 

Once you are done with the fire, a good suggestion is to put out the fire completely. According to Smokey the Bear, it is good practice to use fire wisely, which includes putting it out appropriately. The following tips will help you take out a fire:

  • Start at the right time – putting out a fire might take a longer duration that you think. You might have to plan the process of putting out the fire a few minutes before you are through with it. 
  • Sprinkle water, never pour – it is convenient to have a bucketful of water close to the fire as a safety solution. When it’s time to leave, the water will be useful for putting out smolders and more. Avoid pouring the water directly onto the fire. For one, any significant amounts of water might easily compromise the functionality of your fire pit. A better option would be to sprinkle adequate water over the embers and try removing them with a shovel. Using this approach ensures that the ashes won’t get muddy, thus leaving the pit in good condition for the next user.  
  • Stir using shovel/stick – during the sprinkling of the water process, consider using a stick to mix the ashes and ember around. Using this approach makes it easy to ensure that all that puts out as much material as possible. Thus, when you don’t hear any hissing sounds from the fire, then you are close to putting out the fire completely. 
  • Touch test – its good practice to avoid placing your hands or fingers directly on the fire. You never want to burn yourself using any hot material. Place your hands on the ashes, and you still come across some heat, then sprinkle some water. Then, as before, using a stick or shovel to mix the water and ash around. 
  • Dispose of the ash – it’s also good practice to leave the fire pit in a neat condition. This way, the pit is always ready for the next user, and you don’t have to create a new one when you come back to the same spot. Using an ash scoop, place the ash in a bag and dispose them off at a convenient location.


Spending time outdoors is perhaps one of the best ways to enjoy your leisure time. A good campfire is not only an excellent place to sit around but also a unique way to prepare DIY meals. Before starting a fire, you must take time to learn about the steps involved. Starting a fire pit, especially outdoors, requires a few specific steps if you want to achieve the best results. Similarly, putting out the fire is as important as starting the fire. You need to put the fire out correctly, while also leaving the pit in good condition for the next user. 

Obviously, not every single fire pit will start using the same methods, and there is no single way to do it. However, the methods outlined above are proven to be useful for lighting different types of fire.

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