- Oxygen – one of the most important components of a fire, stack/position your wood to enable air flow around the fire.
- Tinder and Kindling at the bottom – tinder and kindling should be in stack at the bottom of the firewood and loosely surrounded by wood on all sides. Tinder can include small dried sticks and thin pieces of firewood, to bunched up newspaper to a fire starter log or fatwood kindling. All of these will work as long as they are at the bottom and have wood stacked appropriately around them. Keep additional kindling handy in case it is needed to get your fire started.
- “Ember Core” – Construct your fire so that you create an “ember core” in the bottom of the wood. At the start this will consist of a “pocket” of kindling in the bottom center of the logs, as your fire burns hot, red embers will fall to the bottom. Keep these in the bottom, middle of your fire and add additional wood around this ember core. As new wood burns, additional embers will fall into the middle, replenishing the embers and maintaining your Ember Core.
- Firewood stacking – Proper stacking is very important when starting a fire. It can mean the difference between a fast starting fire using minimal kindling and a frustrating experience that may not get off the ground. When starting your fire, whatever you are using for kindling, start with the smallest pieces of seasoned (dry) firewood you can find. The smaller pieces will ignite faster than large pieces of hardwood. Also, choose pieces of wood that are split open, as the heartwood in the middle will ignite easier than the outer sapwood. Place firewood around the grate to create a “pocket” for your kindling. Remember to leave room for air to circulate so the young fire can catch on and roar.
- Firewood Ratings – both hardwood and softwood can be used in a fire. Softwoods are better for starting fire, but burn quickly. Hardwoods burn hotter and longer, but are harder to ignite. For more information click this link: Firewood ratings
- Teepee – The teepee is the classic way to start a fire. This consists of leaning kindling or firewood up against itself in a teepee shaped cone. This creates a small area in the bottom for your core of heat. When the kindling starts to burn in the bottom, it will ignite the wood around it. The firewood burns and is used to replinish the “ember core”.
- Fire pits – It helps for both permanent and portable fire pits to have a semi-level surface for your fire. You can use 3 – 4″ river rock in the bottom of the fire pit to create this surface. For permanent fire pits, it is helpful to fill the bottom of the fire pit up with the river rock to within 6 inches of the top of the fire pit. This helps with airflow around your fire and raises the fire up to where your guests are sitting.