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7 Tips to Keep a Fire Going in a Fire Pit

If you have a fire pit, then chances are you would have experienced how tough it can be to keep a fire going in the fire pit. Most times, you light the fire pit only for the flame to go out after a few minutes, and it can be very frustrating.

While adding more fuel to the fire will work, it’s only a temporary fix. Not to mention the fact that it would be a waste of time, effort, and, most importantly, fuel.

So, what’s the alternative? Well, you are in luck because there are different tips to keep a fire going in the fire pit, and this post will identify the best of the lot.

The following tips will help you to spend more time enjoying the warmth of the fire and less time re-lighting the fire pit.

a lit fire in a fire pit

1. Use Larger Firewood

apple tree firewood

Most people prefer to use small firewood in their fire pits because smaller firewood is easier to light than larger firewood.

While this is true, the fire from smaller firewood wouldn’t last long because the wood will burn quickly. Using larger firewood will give you more flame time because harder firewood takes a longer time to burn. 

2. Allow Ventilation

One major reason why fires die is that there isn’t enough ventilation. Just like you, fire also needs to breathe. Lighting a fire in an enclosed space will cause the fire to die quickly.

To keep the fire going, ensure there is proper ventilation from all sides. This matters when you are stacking the logs. You should leave a few gaps between each log for ventilation. If needed, you can also blow on the fire with a fan, especially when just lighting the fire. 

While ventilation is advised, you shouldn’t use a fire pit in windy weather because that will be too much ventilation. If you suspect the weather is windy, you can use the fire pit by a windbreak like a wall. Therefore, it’s advised to keep the fire pit a few feet away from any flammable or combustible object.

Recommended: Can Fire Pits Get Wet (Do They Need a Cover)?

3. Add Tinder and Kindling

Tinder and kindling are just fancy words for dried twigs, sticks, leaves, and, sometimes, paper. These materials burn quickly, making it easier to light the fire and keep the fire going. While building the fire, you can add newspaper, tree barks, and dry leaves.

These will make it easier to start the fire and to keep the fire going. You can also add dried leaves, twigs, and sticks to the fire. These materials will produce stronger flames and can even keep your fire all night. 

While adding materials to the fire, be sure not to add paper with ink or thick colors. Burning paper with such products will produce fumes that can be toxic if inhaled. This is because many of the chemicals used on paper are toxic to the body system.

4. Start With Softwood

pine wood logs

Generally, there are two types of wood. There is softwood like Pines, Spruces, Fir, and the likes. Then there is hardwood like Oak, Maple, Teak, etc. Softwoods burns quicker than hardwoods because they are less dense.

While softwood is easier to light than hardwood, the fire from softwood wouldn’t last long. Hardwood will sustain the fire for a longer period.

To keep the fire burning, start by placing softwood like Cedar and Pines in the fire. Then as it burns, you can place hardwood on the softwood. This will sustain the fire and improve ventilation.

5. Use Dry Firewood

firewood in a shed

A great way to keep the fire going is to use dry firewood. If there is any moisture in the wood, then it would be difficult to sustain the fire. You will most likely have more smoke and fumes in the air than fire if the wood isn’t completely dry. 

When you want to gather wood for the fire, get seasoned wood or find fallen branches and dried trees to chop. These will keep your fire going.

6. Stoke the Fire

Stoking your fire will improve its air circulation. Whenever you notice the fire is going down, use a long pole to poke the logs and move the coals around gently. This will lead to hotter logs and stronger fires. 

7. Remove Excess Ash

fireplace ash in a metal bucket

It is advised to leave a bit of ash at the base of your fire pit to protect the fire pit from the intense heat. However, if you leave excess ash, you will have a hard time sustaining the fire. This is because the excess ash will block airflow making it more difficult to light and keep the fire going.

If you notice too much ash in the fire pit, remove the excess ash so the fire can breathe. 

Now you know how to keep a fire going in the fire pit, but what is the best thing to burn in a fire pit? The answer lies below. 

Recommended: 10 Creative Ways to Use Wood Ash (Don’t Toss It!)

The Best Fuel for Fire Pits

oak firewood pile
Oak firewood.

The best thing to burn in a fire pit is wood, especially hardwoods like oak and hickory. Wood burns easily, and it has little to no downsides, which makes it the best choice of fuel for a fire pit. 

Recommended: Do Fire Pits Keep You Warm? Here’s The Answer

Burning wood in your fire pit will give you more than just fire and heat. Woods like Pinion produce fumes that serve as a mosquito and bug-repellant. Apple and Cherry wood produce fragrant scents that give your fire pit a more relaxing feel. 

While wood is the best fuel for a fire pit, there are other fuels that you shouldn’t attempt to burn in the fire pit. These fuels can damage the fire pit, while some can be a potential hazards.

Here’s a great choice of wood on Amazon for your fire pit. 

Want to know what you shouldn’t burn in your fire pit? Keep reading to find out.

What Not to Burn in a Fire Pit

While it can be agreed that wood is the best thing to burn in a fire pit, you should stay away from the following:

  • Treated wood. Treated wood is wood meant for construction. Many of these wood contains arsenic and other chemicals that will produce toxic fumes and smoke if burned. 
  • Cardboard. It’s fun to see a box go up in flames, but it can be dangerous too. Fire flakes from the cardboard can travel towards nearby bushes or objects. 
  • Trash. It’s a common practice to burn trash in fire pits. This practice could not be more wrong. Burning objects like rubber, plastic, bags, and other wastes will produce an unpleasant smell. Not to mention other objects like dead batteries that can explode in the fire.
  • Food. It is never a good idea to burn food, especially outdoors. Burning food will ruin your fire pit and the smell can attract insects and other animals that can be deadly. Recommended: Can You Cook on a Gas Fire Pit? (S’mores, Hot Dogs, & More)
  • Any tree or plant that is termed poisonous. Trees like poison oak, poison ivy, and the likes should never be burnt in a fire pit. The fumes from these trees will be deadly if inhaled.

Is It Okay to Leave a Fire Unattended in a Fire Pit?

It’s never okay to leave a fire unattended in a fire pit. Leaving a fire unattended is a potential fire hazard. The flame can grow too strong without control, and fire flakes can also travel on nearby objects causing thousands of dollars in damages. You should always watch and control the fire to prevent fire accidents.

Need More Help?

You can always ask us here at Fireplace Tips, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.

  • Chimney Safety Institute of North America (CSIA): The CSIA is your BEST resource for fireplace and chimney safety at home. They’re a non-profit governed by a volunteer board of directors dedicated to the education, training, and certification of chimney and industry related professionals.
  • Self-Sufficiency and Off-Grid: If you’re like me and passionate about off-grid and self-sufficiency, see my number 1 resource—Abundance Plus. Check out their Frugal Homesteading Course on growing 90% of your own food. Get 7-days free and 10% off with the code: TYLER10