How to start fire pits

Updated February 21, 2017

Feel like a relaxing evening in front of the glow of a fire pit or cooking some hot dogs over an open flame? However you like to enjoy your fire pit, starting it can be extremely difficult if not done correctly. Always check your local bylaws before building your fire since open fires are not allowed in some boroughs. Keep a garden hose nearby while the fire is burning in case it tries to spread, and do not start a fire if the surrounding area is dry.

Gather thin sticks for kindling and larger branches for burning. Select kindling sticks that are about as thick as a pencil. The branches should have a diameter of 2.5 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inches). If you want your fire to last for one hour or more, find a few logs with a 10 to 12.5 cm (4 to 5 inch) diameter. Stack all the wood near the fire pit so it is readily on hand while building the fire.

Lay two handfuls of the kindling sticks in the fire pit. Place them all in the same direction and keep them near the pit's centre.

Stand the branches upright in the pit, forming a tepee structure over the kindling sticks. Do not place these sticks too tightly together or your fire will not get enough oxygen and will die out.

Light a match and throw it into the tepee's centre, onto the kindling sticks. Light a second match and throw it into the kindling on the other side. Dry kindling catches fire very quickly. The burning kindling then catches the branches on fire.

Add the larger logs to the fire once it is going strongly. Drop them near the fire's edge and use a long branch to manoeuvre them towards the centre of the fire pit.


Place dried leaves or pine needles in the tepee structure for an even quicker start to the fire.


Do not use flammable liquids, such as petrol or lighter fluid, to start a fire. Do not build a fire under trees.

Things You'll Need

  • Kindling
  • 2.5 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inch) diameter branches
  • 10 to 12.5 cm (4 to 5 inch) diameter logs
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