How To Light A Fire In A Fire Pit: A 4 Step Easy Guide 

Summary – First, gather your tinder, kindling sticks, and firewood to light a fire in a fire pit. Arrange them in the fire pit in the desired configuration. Then, light the fire using matches or a kitchen lighter. However, avoid using any toxic substances to fuel the fire pit and ensure to set up your outdoor fire pit at least 10 feet from your home and other combustible structures.

How To Light A Fire In A Fire Pit

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give much thought to how to light a fire in a fire pit. After all, isn’t it just a matter of throwing some wood in there and striking a match?

As it turns out, there is a bit more to it than that. This blog post will give you a step-by-step guide to lighting a fire in a fire pit. We’ll also share some tips on keeping your fire strong all night long.

So whether you’re planning a bonfire for a party or want to cozy up to a fire pit on a cool night, follow these steps, and you’ll be sure to have a roaring blaze in no time.

But first, let’s start with things you must know to get the best out of your fire pit.

Types of Fire Pit

There are different types of fire pits, and each comes in varying styles and sizes. But the most common types are; wood fire pits, natural gas fire pits, propane fire pits, and gel fuel fire pits. 

The wood-burning fire pit is the most widely used and least expensive to maintain among the four types of fire pits. It is usually made of marble or steel and creates flames like a campfire. It can also be easily placed anywhere and is ideal for use in any backyard. I also just got a Cast iron fire pit. So in this guide, I’ll be talking about how to light a fire in a wood-burning fire pit.

Positioning Your Fire Pit

When installing a fire pit around your house, your initial priority should be safety, which begins with knowing where to place or install the fire pit. You need a location that is least prone to danger and provides the most comfort for you and your family.

The general rule of thumb is to install a fire pit at least 10 feet away from your home or any combustible structures or objects, such as trees, fences, and outdoor furniture. Also, ensure your non-permanent fire pit is set on a flat surface to avoid it toppling off in the event of a strong breeze.

Before lighting your outdoor fire pit, consider the wind direction. This is to prevent smoke from blowing into your guests’ faces or towards an open window in your house. But, of course, this can make a supposedly enjoyable night intolerable. 

Also, you might want to consider the floor on which you place your backyard fire pit to ensure it is non-flammable. For example, you can place your fire pit on a concrete or wooden floor so far it is high enough to prevent heat from reaching the floor. And if you must use a mat, only a fireproof mat can be used under a fire pit.

Fire Pit Safety Practices

Other Fire Pit Safety Practices

Here are other things to keep in mind before starting a fire in your fire pit;

  • Adhere to your local area guidelines on a fire pit.
  • Never ignite or fuel the fire with a toxic substance or harmful chemical.
  • Maintain a safe distance from the fire.
  • Keep children and pets away from the fireplace.
  • Keep an eye on the fire to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand.
  • Always keep a hose or fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency.
  • Do not light a fire if it is windy.

You can check out Nationwide’s complete fire pit safety list for more helpful tips.

Now that you fully understand the precautions to take before lighting a fire pit, you may proceed to start the fire.

Choosing the Right Lighting Materials for Your Fire Pit

Once your fire pit has been safely installed, it’s time to gather the supplies needed to light your fire pit. You must carefully select your materials to get easy lit and the best burn.

Here are the materials you’ll need to light a fire in a fire pit:

  • Tinder
  • Kindling sticks
  • Firewood
  • Firelighter
  • Bucket of water


To light a fire in a fire pit, the first thing you’ll need is a tinder, which serves as the foundation for your fire. And by tinder, I mean any material that can be quickly lighted and acts as a quick-burning fuel source, as long as such material is dry and non-toxic.

Your tinder bundle can be anything from tree backs, fatwood shavings, leaves, pine needles, newspaper, and cardboard tubes.

Kindling Sticks

The next items you need are your pieces of kindling. They are dry sticks such as twigs, branches, and little pieces of wood that, when lighted, will burn long enough to get your firewood burning.

Softwoods such as pine, cedar, poplar, and spruce are the most effective kindling sticks.


While the other objects can start a fire, they will not burn for long and may not produce a blazing fire to light up your night.

You need firewood logs to keep your fire pit burning all night long as you enjoy your evening.

Seasoned and kiln-dried woods with 20% or less moisture content provide the finest firewood. However, damp woods are more difficult to start a fire and may create excessive smoke, which might ruin your evening fun. 

I recommend using hardwoods such as oak, ash, birch, maple, and beech. These types of wood light easier, burn longer and give more heat output to keep you warm all night. When burned, some woods, such as apple, pear, and hickory, would also emit a pleasant smell.

You can get your firewood from sawmills, farms, and Craigslist, then cut, stack, and season it in your backyard. Seasoning might last anywhere from 6 to 12 months. And you can also buy from a local firewood seller. 


Your firelighters are items you already have in your kitchen. They include matches and kitchen lighters. They are inexpensive and simple to use.

However, you can ignite your fire pit light using an electric arc lighter or a butane torch lighter. While these are not common household items, they are usually more effective for lighting an outdoor fire pit. Consider investing in one to ensure a smooth lighting operation. 

Bucket of water

Don’t be surprised to see a bucket of water as one of the items needed to make a fire in a fire pit. Although neither the bucket nor the water is required to ignite or fuel the fire, it is advisable to keep a bucket of water nearby while lighting a fire pit as you might need it to put out the flames or wash your hands afterward.

Lighting fire in firepit

It’s Time to Light Fire in Your Fire Pit

Having gotten all your items in place, it’s time to light up your fire pit. There are four basic steps to lighting a fire in a wooden backyard fire pit:

Step 1: Line Your Fire Pit with the Tinder

First, line the base of your fire pit with a tinder. Then, depending on your chosen material, you can either lay, pile, or roll your tinder. Just make sure to position your tinder at the center of the fire pit.

Step 2: Set up the Kindling Sticks

Next, arrange your kindling sticks directly over the pile of tinder. Place the sticks and twigs together to form a pyramid but keep gaps between them to allow airflow.

Step 3: Light up Your Tinder

Using your firelighter, carefully light the tinder.

Simply hold your natural firelighter close enough to the tinder to ensure it lights quickly through the gaps between the kindling. If your tinder is dry enough, this should only take a few seconds.

And if you notice your tinder burning up quickly before the kindling catches fire, simply add additional tinder until the kindling begins to burn. 

Then, wait until the tinder and kindling sticks start to burn before moving to the next step.

Step 4: Add Firewood

Once the kindling begins to burn, add your firewood.

Note that the way you organize your firewood is crucial to keeping your fire going. So, once again, arrange your firewood immediately on top of the kindling to form a pyramid, but leave gaps between them to allow airflow.

And if your firewood does not catch fire in time, simply add extra tinder and Kindling to your fire pit. But, if the firewood is dry enough, it should begin to burn in a couple of minutes.

Maintaining the fire in the firepit

Fire Pit Safety Practices

You want to spend enough time with your family and friends in the evening, and you want the fire pit burning the entire time. So, knowing how to keep the fire going is also essential. 

To keep the fire burning, simply add additional tinder, kindling, and firewood as the present ones burn out.

And try to keep the structure intact by putting a tinder at the base and kindling the firewood on top in the shape of a pyramid.

Putting Out Fire in a Pit Fire

At the night’s end, you don’t want to leave your fire pit blazing while you go to bed. Make sure that the fire in the fire pit is completely extinguished. To put out the fire, sprinkle fire over the woods until the fire dies out. But, do not drench your fire pit in water because you may need to use it the next day.

Frequently Asked Questions On How To Light A Fire In A Fire Pit

What Size Fire Pit Do I Need?

The size of your fire pit will depend on your outdoor space and the number of people you expect to use it. However, experts recommend that an outdoor fire pit be between 30 and 40 inches wide and 12 to 16 inches tall.

Should I Fill the Bottom of My Fire Pit With Sand?

A layer of dry sand at the base of your fire pit can assist in protecting the metal from the high heat of the fire. Without the sand, the heat is concentrated directly on the metal, causing it to degrade fast and begin to burn through.