You don’t have to be a burly, wilderness man to start a fire. With the right tricks and strategies, everyone is capable of creating a perfect, roaring fire they can be proud of.
Starting a fire is an intricate, multi-step process, but the most difficult part of that process, undoubtedly, is making sure you correctly stack and arrange your firewood. There are several methods to ensuring your wood can support and sustain a fire. Let’s walk through those below and before you know it, you’ll be an expert in stacking and arranging firewood.
General Firewood and Fire Starting Tips
- The kindling for your fire must be completely dry, and should go on the very bottom of your fire bed. If you don’t have time to gather small sticks and leaves for the kindling, the heat core of your fire, you can use one of our fast, easy firestarters instead.
- As you’re arranging your wood, always start with the smallest pieces first. As the fire burns, you can continue to stack in larger pieces, which will help to ensure your fire’s longevity.
- Remember that the key to a good fire is oxygen. In order to create flames, the fire needs to breathe. Stacking and arranging your wood too tightly will suffocate your fire and prevent it from starting.
- Before lighting a fire in your indoor fireplace, ensure the flue is open. How do you know whether or not your flue is open? If you feel cold air flowing through your fireplace, it’s open.
- After you light your indoor fire, close the fireplace screen. This will prevent sparks and pops from flying onto your carpet or hardwood floors (a potential fire hazard).
Firewood Stacking Methods
There are many ways to efficiently stack your fire, but detailed below are several popular and foolproof methods. Happy stacking!
This method is just what it sounds like. Arrange your firewood and kindling in a cone shape and light your kindling in it’s center. Eventually, the logs on the outside will fall into the center of the fire, feeding and growing it. This is perhaps the most effective way to start a fire, but because of it’s intense heat, your wood will burn relatively quickly — something to keep in mind for campfires, bonfires, or long evenings by the fireplace.
Remember playing with Lincoln Logs as a kid? Well, this method of stacking and arranging firewood might bring back some memories. To create a log cabin stack, arrange your firewood in horizontal layers, alternating directions with each new layer, to ultimately form a square-shaped structure with four walls. This method creates a chimney effect and is the best type of fire for cooking food due to its even, consistent heat.
Start by laying two logs parallel to each other on the ground. From there, layer smaller logs on top of the two base logs in a perpendicular direction. Add three or four layers total, alternating the direction of your base logs with each layer. As you build up your structure, make each layer slightly smaller than the next, so that a pyramid form begins to take shape. Light your fire from the top of the pyramid and watch as the flames slowly creep down towards the bottom.
An alternative, less conventional method is the Upside Down fire technique. You can build an Upside Down fire in both an indoor fireplace or an outdoor setting. To build this type of fire, begin with your largest logs — line them up right next to each other, with little to no space in between, at the base of your fire pit or place. Next, stack your smaller fuel wood on top of the base logs in a perpendicular direction. Anywhere from one to three layers of fuel wood is sufficient. Then, add your kindling. Layer it on in the same alternating, perpendicular fashion, so that your smallest kindling is that the very top of the structure. Finally, add your tinder to the top of the fire — this is what you will actually light get the fire going, and could be anything from a dryer lint to paper.
When it comes to stacking and arranging firewood, practice makes perfect. Think of it this way, now you have a good excuse to light a fire every night — you’re practicing your stacking skills!
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