Safely Starting a Fire Pit Fire

By Halley Wilson , last updated April 29, 2011

Fire pits are great additions to your outdoor living space because they provide a safe source of heat, a gathering place and you can even cook on them, but you do need to know how to safely start a fire in your fire pit. You need to be careful and make sure that the fire is contained correctly and started in a way that avoids burns and accidental embers flying away. For the best fire you need to arrange the combustable materials, kindling and wood in an arrangement that provides adequate air flow and the fire needs to be started and maintained correctly.

Arrange the Fire

Place a thick bed of easily combustable materials such as pine needles, dry leaves or shredded newspaper at the base of the fire pit and layer kindling such as small sticks in a grid pattern over it so that there will be adequate air flow between the sticks. Arrange logs split into halves or quarters in a pyramid shape above the kindling so that the heat will be able to reach the logs but air will be able to flow around the pieces. Remember that fire needs air just as much as it needs material to burn so make you do not pack the logs tightly together.

Light the Kindling

Use a long match to light the material at the base of the fire pit. Start with the material that's close to the kindling grid and move outwards. You can leave the wood of the match inside the fire pit to burn with the kindling and light a second one if you need to ignite the needles and leaves around the edges. The more heat you create, the easier it is to ignite the kindling sticks.

Add Air

Once the kindling has ignited from the brush use a small bellows to pump air into the fire pit. Light air flow helps the flame spread and the bellows will help you control where the flame is going. The kindling should heat up the logs above it, enabling them to ignite as well. Do not pump so much air into the fire pit so as to put out the flame.


If the kindling has not ignited after the initial bed of combustible materials has burnt out you can add more leaves and pine needles to the base of the fire. If you don't have kindling you can use commercially available fire starters to ignite the logs. When your logs have ignited and start to burn you can add additional logs.

Safety Precautions

When using fire always have a fire extinguisher on hand in case of accident. Keep kindling and combustible materials at the base of the fire pit as these can float out when pumping air in with the bellows and inadvertently ignite other objects. Avoid stacking the logs so high that they cannot be moved easily without knocking the other logs out of the fire pit as you may need to turn the logs in order to get the most use out of them.

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