Build a Fire

In today’s post, we’re going to teach you all about how to build a fire, including how to properly start, maintain, and extinguish it. we’ll also go over what to do in case of emergencies. Proper education is the soooo important when it comes to enjoying fires with peace of mind.

family around fire

As important as it is to know how to build a fire, you’ll also need to know a little something about firewood and where to place your fire pit. If you need a little refresher, check out the linked posts before you finish reading this! Once done, you’re ready to start building your fire.

Let’s begin!

  1. Start with 2-3 handfuls of tinder on top of the grate.
    • Tinder can be a range of materials, such as newspaper, dryer lint, thin twigs/sticks, dry leaves, dry pine needles, or straw.
    • I really like to use a product called “Fatwood” because it is lightweight and so easy to use. It’s also nice that they are 100% all-natural and environmentally friendly. Live trees are never cut down for the product, instead they use pine tree stumps. These stumps are full of resin, which is dried sap. The resin makes the starters waterproof and rot-resistant, so they will easily light even after being submerged in water.
  2. Next, place 2-3 pieces of smaller seasoned firewood on top of the tinder in a tee-pee formation.
    • Make sure to leave room between the tinder and firewood tee-pee to aid airflow.
  3. Light the tinder. The flame will rise and eventually catch the seasoned wood tee-pee on fire.
  4. After the tee-pee is on fire, begin adding more seasoned wood.
    • Start with the driest wood first, then add fresher wood in the same teepee fashion as before. Size wise, you should start with smaller pieces and then move to larger logs as the fire grows.
  5. Once the fire is steadily going, we recommend using the wire mesh cover that most fire pits come with to control sparks.
    • Make sure to never grab the screen handle with bare hands as it can stay hot for hours after the fire is out.
  6. When done with the fire, always fully extinguish it. Douse it with water, dirt, sand, or with a fire extinguisher. Stir with a shovel to ensure it’s fully extinguished.
    • Do not leave the fire unattended until fully extinguished. The embers can take as long as 24 hours to cool off.
  7. Once the ashes have cooled, dispose of them in a non-combustible container, something that is metal is recommended. Never dispose of ashes in compost pile, paper bags, cardboard, or anything combustible, as the ashes can still be hot enough to cause a fire in 2-3 days.

Never build a fire without everyone in your party knowing these TOP FIRE SAFETY RULES!

  • The fire should always be attended by an adult. Never leave the fire unattended, not even for a second.
  • Never let children or those inexperienced with fires light them.
  • Sit 3-7 ft away from the fire at all times. For children and elderly people, veer on the side of 7 ft. 
    • According to a study from Journal of Burn Care & Research, the majority of injuries in children 5 years and younger related to falls into or onto hot fire pits.
  • Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing that could catch on fire if blown by the wind into the fire. Extra-flammable clothing fabrics like nylon, should also be avoided.
  • Keep the fire small. You don’t need a huge fire to have a good time!
    • In Virginia Beach, your fire cannot legally be larger than 3 ft in diameter and 2 ft tall. You must have a permit for anything bigger!
  • If you’re planning on having an outdoor fire in Spring, make sure you adhere to Virginia’s Burn Law.
    • This takes effect every year between Feb 15-Aug 30. During this time you cannot have fires within 300 feet of woodland, brushland, or field containing dry grass. You may only start fires between 4PM-12AM, with no fuel added after midnight. They ask that you try to have fires when the humidity is high and avoid having them on drier days.
  • NEVER use gasoline/accelerant to fuel fire.
    • The vapor is very flammable and lingers in the air. Any spark can light the vapor and lead to unwanted fires or an explosion. When gasoline vapors ignite, one gallon of gasoline can explode with the same force as 14 sticks of dynamite.
  • Always have something to put out the fire with nearby for instant use in case of emergencies.
    • This could be a garden hose, a water barrel, a bucket of sand or dirt, or a fire extinguisher. If using a fire extinguisher, always make sure it has not expired (they come with a tag that states the expiration date).

Yay, you know how to build a fire & our top fire safety tips!

build a fire

Now comes the fun part of enjoying it! Kick it back with the family around the fire, and maybe try out 1 or 2 of the fun activities we suggested in our previous blog post.

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