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how to light a firepit

How to Light a Fire Pit Safely: Tips for Your Outdoor Firepit

There's nothing quite like gathering around a crackling fire pit on a cool evening. Whether you're roasting marshmallows with the family or enjoying a cozy chat with friends, a well-lit fire pit sets the perfect ambiance. 

But before you can bask in its warmth, you need to know how to light it safely and effectively. This guide will walk you through the simple steps to get your fire pit glowing in no time.

How to light a fire pit?

To safely light a fire pit, gather kindling and firewood. Arrange kindling in a teepee or log cabin shape. Use fire starters or newspaper to ignite from the bottom. Gradually add larger logs as the fire builds, rearranging for airflow. Maintain safety precautions, never leaving a fire unattended.

Key Takeaways:

  • Choose the right fire pit type and fuel source.
  • Prepare the area safely away from structures and combustibles.
  • Use the teepee or log cabin method to arrange kindling and wood.
  • Maintain fire safety, never leave a fire unattended.
  • Extinguish fully by smothering embers and dousing them with water.

Choosing the Right Fire Pit

Types of Fire Pits

Types of Fire Pits

Before you can light your fire pit, you need to choose the right one. Permanent or built-in fire pits are a great option for those looking for a long-term backyard feature.

If you prefer mobility, portable fire pits made of metal or clay are an excellent choice. They come in various sizes and styles to fit any outdoor space.

Fuel Types  

Once you've decided on the type of fire pit, consider your fuel source. Wood-burning fire pits offer a classic experience, but require a steady supply of seasoned firewood.

Propane and natural gas fire pits are more convenient, offering instant ignition and adjustable flames with the turn of a knob. Weigh the pros and cons to determine the best fuel for your needs and preferences.

Preparing the Fire Pit Area

Selecting a Safe Location

Safe Location firepit

Safety should be your top priority when setting up a fire pit. Choose a level, open area at least 10-15 feet away from any structures, overhanging branches, or combustible materials.

Avoid placing the fire pit on dry grass or vegetation that could easily catch fire. A paved or sand-covered surface is ideal.

Gathering Necessary Supplies

Before lighting the fire, ensure you have all the necessary supplies within reach. Start with a bundle of kindling (small, dry sticks or wood shavings) and a good supply of seasoned firewood.

Fire starters like commercial logs or fatwood can help get the flames going quickly. Don't forget matches or a long-reach lighter, and keep a water source or fire extinguisher nearby for safety.

With the proper location and supplies gathered, you'll be ready to build and light your fire pit like a pro. Taking these preparatory steps will ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Building the Fire

Arranging the Kindling and Firewood

There are a couple of tried-and-true methods for arranging your kindling and firewood. The teepee method involves stacking the kindling in the center of the fire pit, leaning the larger pieces against each other in a cone shape.

Alternatively, the log cabin method layers the kindling and firewood in alternating rows, creating a sturdy base for the fire.

Lighting the Fire  

Lighting the Firepit

Once your pile is built, it's time to light it up. If using fire starters, place them among the kindling and light according to the package instructions.

For a more natural approach, crumple a few sheets of newspaper and place them under the kindling pile before lighting. Use long matches or a grill lighter to safely ignite the fire from the bottom.

Maintaining the Fire

As the kindling catches, gradually add larger pieces of firewood, placing them on top of the burning pile. Use a fireplace tool or long tongs to rearrange the logs as needed, allowing for proper airflow and even burning.

Keep a supply of firewood nearby to replenish the fire as it consumes the existing logs like Super Sassafras by Empire.

With a little patience and the right technique, you'll have a roaring fire pit in no time. Just remember to keep safety in mind and never leave the flames unattended.

Safety Precautions

Fire Safety Tips

While fire pits provide warmth and ambiance, they also pose a potential hazard if not handled properly. Always supervise the fire pit and never leave it unattended, even for a moment.

Maintain a safe distance, and keep children and pets at least three feet away from the flames. Avoid wearing loose or flammable clothing that could easily catch fire.

Extinguishing the Fire Properly

When you're ready to call it a night, don't simply walk away from the fire pit. Allow the fire to burn down completely, gradually diminishing the airflow by spreading the ashes.

Once only embers remain, douse the entire area with water to ensure no hot spots are left smoldering. Stir the ashes and repeat the process until the pit is cool to the touch.

By following these crucial safety guidelines, you can enjoy your fire pit without putting yourself, your property, or your loved ones at risk. A little caution goes a long way in preventing accidental fires or injuries.

Enjoying Your Fire Pit

With your fire pit safely lit and the flames dancing merrily, it's time to bask in the warm ambiance. Gather around with family and friends, relishing in the crackling sounds and mesmerizing flickers.

Roast marshmallows or make s'mores for a sweet treat. Share stories, laugh, and create lasting memories under the gentle glow.

But don't let the fun overshadow safety and responsibility. Respect local ordinances and noise regulations to avoid disturbing neighbors.

Most importantly, cherish these moments of togetherness and let the fire pit be the centerpiece of your outdoor gatherings.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use lighter fluid to start the fire?

While lighter fluid may seem convenient, it's best avoided. The strong fumes can be overwhelming and toxic. Instead, use fire starters or crumpled newspaper for a safer option.

2. How do I control the size of the fire?

Adjust the airflow by carefully rearranging the logs and partially covering the pit opening. Add more wood for a larger fire or allow it to burn down for a smaller flame.

3. Is it okay to burn pine or plant trimmings?

Stick to seasoned hardwood firewood. Softwoods like pine and green plant trimmings can pop and throw sparks, increasing the fire risk. Well-dried hardwood burns cleaner and safer.

4. Do I need a spark screen?

A mesh spark screen or enclosure is highly recommended, especially if children or pets are present. It contains stray embers and prevents accidental burns.


Lighting a fire pit is a simple pleasure that brings people together. By following the steps outlined here – choosing the right setup, preparing carefully, building the fire safely, and prioritizing precautions – you'll be able to enjoy countless nights gathered around the warm, flickering flames. Master this skill, and you'll be the master of memorable outdoor ambiance.

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