How To Build A Fire

How To Build A Fire
 

Building a fire. That is something that definitely goes on the "why don't I know how to do that?" list.

I've been to many a bonfires where everyone was excited, sitting around the fire pit, waiting for the flames to rise. Waiting. Waiting. Then someone puts lighter fluid on the pile of wood and there are cheers. Then the flames quickly die out. Did I snicker? Maybe. But did I know what to do instead? Nope.

Now I do.

You need four things. Tinder, kindle, fuel wood (which are dried logs) and matches. You'll also need a place to light this thing. Luckily a lot of parks and beaches have fire pits. Before you do anything, make sure you check to see if there is a burn ban.

Tinder is what gets the fire started. It lights up quickly but will burn up just as quick so you want to make sure you have a good handful. Dried leaves, twigs, and paper are all good started. Make sure if you use paper that there is not a lot of ink or chemicals on it.

Next is the kindling. These are larger sticks that continue the fire, in order for the fuel logs to start burning. Make this into a tepee so that it's sturdy and can burn on top of each other.

Now here's where you have some choices to make. There are many types of fires you can make, each giving you different advantages. I'll show you the "log cabin" and "tepee" fires. The image below is the log cabin style because ... it looks like a log cabin. These are easy to form, gives off a lot of heat, has lower light and burns slower. You will still get a flame to enjoy but these are better for cooking.

The fuel logs that are on the outer parts of the pile are what keeps the fire going. These need to be dry as a bone, so no fresh cut wood here.

I've enlisted the hubby to help with the next example, the tepee fire. Take note that making fires are serious business, so if you're trying to take pictures of this, you'll want someone to help you actually make it while you're holding the camera. :)

As my darling has kindly demonstrated, you'll want to balance the fuel logs  on each other to create a tepee. These fires are easy to catch flame, doesn't give as much heat, and burns faster. This means they are perfect for parties.

I had to show the view we had making this fire. Alki is so lovely, especially when there's not one million people on it. Alright, back to fire making.

The fire starts when you light the tinder with a match. The gaps between the logs are giving the fire air flow, which is why this style catches flame quicker.

Now step back and let the flames go.

Voila! Fire on the beach! ... that should be a cocktail ...

If you want to make the fire larger, use the same formula but add a lot more material. Take note that fuel logs can take a couple hours to burn.

I am definitely one of these types of Northwest folk, like the Pemco Insurance commercial so kindly profiled. I like to enjoy my fires like I do my ice cream: on a cold day without a crowd. So put that coffee in a thermos and get down to the beach. There's marshmallows that are in need of roasting. 

Supplies
Matches
Tinder
Kindling
Fuel (dry wood logs)

Steps
**Check to see if there is a burn ban in your area. If there is, you can not make a fire, even at your home**

Tepee Fire - Better for parties
Easy to catch flame, doesn't give as much heat, and burns faster. 

  1. Make a pile of tinder.
  2. Put a handful of kindle twigs around the tinder to form a tepee.
  3. If possible, poke some larger kindle pieces in the ground for stability.
  4. Add fuel pieces to the smaller tepee, to create a bigger one, leaving gaps for air flow.
  5. Light the tinder with a match.
  6. To keep the fire going, add fuel logs on the sides, continuing the tepee shape. Make sure not to make the form collapse.

Log Cabin Fire - Better for cooking
Easy to form, gives off a lot of heat, lower light and burns slower. 

  1. Make a pile of tinder.
  2. Put a handful of kindle twigs around the tinder to form a tepee.
  3. If possible, poke some larger kindle pieces in the ground for stability.
  4. Put two large pieces of fuel wood parallel to the small tepee. 
  5. Continue build up the fuel wood up to the height desired.
  6. Add more fuel logs to continue the fire.

After You're Done

  1. Douse the fire with water or cover the smoldering fire with sand.
  2. Make sure the pit is cool to the touch before leaving it.