The Best Ways To Start A Fire Pit: Wood Kindling, Ignition Systems & More

There are several ways to start your fireplace. Here, we want to show you some easy and safe ways to light that fire pit!

Different methods work better for different fuel types, but there are multiple techniques no matter what type. So, let us walk you through some popular ones—beginning with wood kindling tactics and concluding with ignition systems for gas features!

DIY Fire Starters For The Fire Pit

diy fire starters for the fire pit

Second-hand Paper Towels And Cooking Oil

Always unsure of what to do with used cooking oil and paper towels? Here is a neat idea! Waste-not, want-not! So after you have dinner, put your dirty paper towels and the oil from a day of cooking in a container. The wet paper towel will soak up any remaining oil before going to camp, and both the oil and its soaking agent are highly flammable.

People often choose to wait a few days before they build their fire pit so that any excess liquid from the oil dries up and you don’t have any mess. You can even use this starter for your campfire pit if you want an easy way to eliminate waste at home or outdoors!

The Second Helping Of Food Fire Starters

the second helping of food fire starters ideas

Some common sources of fuel for starting fires are also used in the kitchen. Anything flammable, including some foods, should never be tossed in an open fire pit or fireplace.

Instead, try using your leftovers to get the fire going. Fill a paper bag with flammable materials like food scraps or leaves and twist the top into a tip. Place it beneath the wood or other fuel you’re using for your fire and light it up!

What do you use to get your fire burning? Check out some common things for starting a fire:

  • Orange peels (plus, this smells great!)
  • Peanut shells
  • Potato chips
  • Dried milk
  • Coffee creamer, dried
  • Flour

The high expense of going to the store and buying ingredients for a leftover food fire starter is enough to dissuade you from doing so, but there’s a chance that you have flour leftover after cooking. Keep this in mind because it can be used around the campfire!

Sawdust Cupcakes

sawdust cupcakes is type of diy fire starters for the fire pit

This DIY project requires a little extra work which will require some shopping. You will need sawdust, candles, and something flammable like paper muffin wraps, cardboard egg cartons, or snack-size boxes.

One simple way to get your fire up and roaring is to fill a container with sawdust but don’t pack it in too tightly. Pour hot wax over the top of it and allow it to harden completely. Once it has hardened, you can cut small pieces off, and they will become easy-to-light fire starters!

Sawdust is flammable, and so is wax, but use the wax sparingly. It is a slow burn which will give the wood time to catch fire. If you don’t have sawdust available, other materials like paper, cardboard, or any other type of flammable material can be used instead.

Lint And Toilet Roll Fire Starter

lint and toilet roll fire starter is type of diy fire starters for the fire pit

This DIY firestarter project is similar to the one previously mentioned but includes recycled materials. To start, save your used dryer lint in a plastic grocery bag with a paper towel and toilet tissue rolls for later use.

Save your old newspapers or any printouts from the office-you never know when they might come in handy while camping.

To build a safe and sustainable fire, start with the dryer lint. Then utilize newspaper for fuel—leaving it loose enough that it burns well.

Newspaper is a great way to start a fire in your fireplace. You can pack the paper for easy transport, and it doesn’t take up much room either!

Essential Oil Pinecone Fire Starter

You don’t have to look far for a nice, warm campfire. In fact, you can make your own with only pinecones and wax! If you want fragrance, mix essential oils into the melted wax, but it would work even without them.

To avoid conflicting smells, it’s best to get unscented candles or wax from a craft store.

Melt your candle wax in a giant saucepan, and then add the essential oil of your choice. Once it has been completely melted, tie one end of a string to a pinecone and dip it up to the top in the wax until you can’t see any more of its surface.

After the pinecone is coated, hang it up so that the wax can harden. Some DIY crafters choose to coat it several times, but your decision depends on how many fire starters you plan to make.

Once the wax is dried, you are ready to head out! Carefully pack up your candles and move on.

Duct Tape

Duct Tape is highly flammable and burns for a good chunk of time. Place this under kindling on the fire, add bug spray or hand sanitizer to get things going even faster.

Charcoal In An Egg Carton

charcoal in an egg carton is type of diy fire starters for the fire pit

Don’t want to try starting the fire by hand? Place a charcoal chunk in each section of an egg carton and light it on fire. To help protect your home against bugs, you might want to squirt some bug repellent or hand sanitizer on the box first.

Rubber Tubing

It’s arguably the most toxic way to start a fire, but it still works. When your bike gets a flat, keep it and cut up strips of it for when you need them. Just don’t breathe in the fumes when you light it on fire.

Waxed Paper And Dryer Lint

Waxed paper is a great fuel source for your fireplace, but you can also create other homemade fuels that can add to the warmth. To make these other sources, fold up newspaper or scrap wood sheets into small logs and wrap them with waxed paper before placing them on the fire grate. Though they may look like joints or blunt wraps—these aren’t going to get you high!

Cotton Balls And Petroleum Jelly

cotton balls and petroleum jelly is type of diy fire starters for the fire pit

My favorite way to start a fire is with cotton balls. They’re lightweight, and when they’re soaked in petroleum jelly, it makes them highly flammable. I’ve even dipped them in paraffin wax or melted the jelly and put them in Ziploc bags while on the trail or stored at home before my trip.

When you’re on the go but don’t have cotton balls or petroleum jelly, try using q-tips and lip balm.

Dryer Lint And Egg Cartons

The classic and self-sufficient way to start a fire is with a wad of dryer lint placed in the cardboard egg carton full of melted paraffin wax.

It’s an easy project, whether you want the homemade jar candles or not. The main trick is to melt the wax without burning your kitchen down and ruining pots with a waxy build-up. Wax is highly flammable, so heat should never be applied straight from the stovetop – instead, try using a double boiler set to medium-high.

To minimize the melting rate and reduce the risk of combustion, use a double burner by placing the pot with wax inside it over another pot with simmering water. This strategy will ensure that wax melts at a slower and safer rate.

You can use an old coffee can rather than a cooking pot to melt the wax in for a no-mess option. Melted wax makes for messy cleanup. To save money on paraffin, purchase all those half-burned candles laying around your house (or go to a bargain store).

Using a wick to light your fire, you will need tinder such as sawdust, shredded paper, or even cut-up pieces of egg cartons. You can also try dipping in rolled-up newspapers tied with string (don’t use nylon cord) or pine cones into wax for easy fire starters.

Hand Sanitizer

To get a good flame and to dry the wood, put some hand sanitizer on it. We recommend an alcohol-based product because some brands are alcohol-free – these won’t work!

Type Of Wood That Best For Fire Pit

type of wood that best for fire pit

When selecting flame kindling, it’s important to consider how hot the fire can get, how quickly it burns, and if there will be a lot of smoke. Hardwoods like oak, mesquite, elm, or maple are good fuel options but may require more work to start ablaze.

Softwoods like pine, fir, and cedar make for good fuel options as well. They may burn faster and put off more smoke than hardwoods, so consider using them more as an option if you have the choice.

When it comes to selecting firewood, consider the moisture content. If your wood is damp, you’ll notice popping and cracking as well as more sparks (this may happen with any of the fuel options). This is due to inefficient combustion when there are steam pockets releasing pressure.

Hardwoods produce a less crackling and popping flame. If you’re looking to avoid this, use kiln-dried wood designed specifically for fire pits and fireplaces.

Apple Wood

Applewood is difficult to light and keep burning. However, if you manage to get the flames started, it burns slowly for a long time period. You will also be rewarded with a sweet aroma that will remind you of hot cider during the holidays.

Cherry Wood

Cherry wood may not be one of the best for open-flame cooking, but it makes for a warm and inviting atmosphere. Burning cherry wood will release more smoke than other tree woods.


Oak produces more heat per firebox load and has longer-lasting fires. The tree is native to North America and Asia, which means that it grows well in temperate or tropical zones.


cedar is type of wood that best for fire pit

Cedar is a soft kind of wood that contains substantial amounts of natural resin. As a result, it burns hot and sometimes explodes as sparks or burning fragments. It throws out high flames for only a short period before dying down quickly.

Don’t plan on using cedar exclusively for your fire content. It may not burn as hot and will need to be used to collaborate with another material to produce a sustainable heat source.


Alder trees are deciduous and found on the west coast of North America. Alder trees produce quality maple charcoal.

Alder wood can be tough to burn, so you should season the logs before using them in your fire pit. Burning wet alder creates too much smoke and leaves behind ash-filled coals.

Pinion wood

Pinion wood, also called smoke pine or petrified pine is a dense hardwood found in the mountains of southwest United States. Pinion wood has natural mosquito repellant qualities and emits a smoky fragrance.


One option for firewood is hickory. This wood burns hotter than oak and other hardwoods that grow native to the United States. Hickory is one of the most popular woods used in fire pits, and it provides an excellent source of heat.


Mesquite firewood burns at a high temperature and is very clean-burning. It produces low sparks that make it safe for gas features. Mesquite trees are typically found in the southwestern United States and Mexico.


Pecan wood is usually found in Illinois, Indiana, and many places between Kentucky and Texas. It does not create as much heat as some other woods, but it often has a pleasant scent when burned.

How Long Does Wood Burn In Fire Pit

how long does wood burn in fire pit

The duration of your wood fire depends on the kind of wood you are using. For example, while hardwoods contain longer fibers than softwoods by a margin, as hardwood burns, they release ash into the flame and eventually extinguish themselves.

Starting your fire with softwood and sustaining it with hardwoods will produce a long-lasting flame. As an example, if you choose to use logs that are 12- to 14-inches in length and 4 or 5 inches in diameter, you’ll need at least four or five pieces every two hours.

This assumes your fire pit is 3′-4′ in diameter. Larger or smaller pits will increase or decrease the burn time, but this is a good estimate for starting point.

A Guide To Firing Up Your Fire Pit

What fuel Is used in my fire pit?

Which fuel should you choose for your fire pit? It is surprising how much quality fuel can change the feel of a fire, whether it be for heat or cooking. Read on to find out more about what fuels we recommend and ways to use them best.

Good Quality, Dry Firewood

One of the most common methods for starting a fire in your outdoor fireplace is to use firewood. This technique also works best with dry, high-quality wood that allows you to minimize smoke and maximize heat output.

There are many different fuel choices to choose from for a fire in a fireplace. We recommend using Kiln Dried Logs, which you can find at local stores or order online, and we sell them, too!

Kiln-dried logs have a moisture content below 20%, meaning they can be used straight away in your fire pit without needing any further seasoning. They are also consistent due to the kilning process done by the manufacturers.

Best Firewood To Use In Your Fire Pit

best firewood species to use in your fire pit

We recommend using hardwoods, like oak, ash, and beech. If you are looking for wood kindling that will provide a long burn and flavor, Applewood is the best option for adding hickory at the end of cooking to add a smokey taste.

Pure Hardwood Charcoal

Charcoal is a popular fuel to use when cooking on one of our fire pits. We supply Herefordshire Hardwood Charcoal which is sourced from local supplier Birchwood Forestry. This smokeless alternative to wood can reach and maintain high temperatures for an extended period of time.

The Steps To Start A Fire In A Fire Pit


Once you’ve chosen the safest location to set up your pit, it’s time to gather all of the necessary items. The list may not seem very long, but everything is easy to find, and don’t worry, it doesn’t take long at all!

Here is everything you will need to start a fire:

Fire Starter

There are many ways to light your fire pit, including some easy and safe methods. One popular method is using a kitchen lighter or matches.

You can also use an electric arc or a butane torch lighter to start your fire. These are more effective than other methods, and they have some safety features, too!


Tinder is what you need to start your fire. This can be branches, leaves, cones from pines, or any other woods or bark that are dry and safe.

Cool of the Wild shares their list for homemade tinder- a great resource to use when you want to start your fire in your favorite fireplace or outdoor firepit!


Start your fire pit with these dry, softwood kindling sticks. These are best for the fire pit starting a fire because the wood will burn long enough to start your wood. Dry and softwoods like pine, cedar, poplar, and spruce work best.


Logs are the foundation of any fire. When you want a long-lasting fire, it is best to use hardwood such as maple, oak, ash, and birch. These woods should be dried and stacked properly before being used for your fireplace (starting with logs that are on top).

Now that you’ve gathered all the materials let’s start your perfect fire.

Time To Start Your Fire

time to start your fire on firepit

You’re here for some tips on starting a fire without lighter fluid, and that’s what you’ll get!

We’ll walk through how to start a fire in a fireplace by each step:

  • First, make a pile at the center of your fire pit with tinder. The pile’s size should be about as big as your palm or smaller.
  • After you have secured your tinder into the bottom of the fire pit, arrange a pile of small kindling above it at an angle. Don’t make this stack too large and leave gaps for airflow.
  • Now, you want to take your fire starter and light your tinder pile. You only have kindling in the woods now, but once someone starts with some firewood, other people will too!
  • Now it is time to place the firewood on top of your stack of kindling. The wood should be close enough together so that the fire stays concentrated while still leaving small gaps to allow ventilation.

Maintain The Flame In Firepit

Keeping a fire going in your fire pit is essential if you want to keep the flames from dying out during the night. If your firewood has had trouble catching on or if the flame is going out, try adding some additional tinder and kindling.

Additionally, pay attention to the condition of your wood. If it’s all black and crumbling or if the flame is dying, rotate more wood in to keep it burning. Be sure always to keep a close eye on your fire; add dry tinder, kindling, or logs when needed; and don’t suffocate the flame.

The Best Way To Put Out A Fire In A Fire Pit

the best way to put out a fire in a fire pit

To control your fire, always have a shovel and plenty of water on hand. To put out the fire, remember these three steps: water it down, cover it up with dirt until you’re sure there are no hot embers left, and feel around for any residual heat before putting your hand anywhere near or over the source of the flames.

It’s imperative when you put out your fire, and you only do so after the flames have died down and every ember has been thoroughly extinguished. If not, the embers will continue to smolder and reignite hours later.

Final Thoughts

Starting a fire is not always easy. It takes a bit of time and patience to perfect the art, but you are one step closer to your perfect flame by following these steps.

Please remember that safety is the most important thing when starting a fire, and it always helps to have fire pit tools by your side.

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