Burning firewood is the most rewarding part of having firewood. You finally get to enjoy the warmth of the fire!
When burning firewood you will need several items, regardless of whether you will be using a woodstove, fireplace or outdoor fire pit. First, you'll need your properly seasoned firewood. To initially start the fire you should have some small and medium pieces of firewood (nothing larger than 4" in diameter). You'll also want some kindling, tinder and matches or other source of flame.
Kindling is nothing more than easy to ignite material such as dry sticks or finely split pieces of firewood. You can also purchase kindling such as fatwood which are highly flammable pieces of wood that work really well.
Tinder is nothing more than an even finer version of kindling. Newspaper is my preference, but even dry twigs will do the job if that is the only thing available. Essentially any material that will easy catch fire from a match will do the trick.
Fire Building Strategies
Obviously, a fire needs a few items to occur. You need burnable material(firewood), oxygen and a source of ignition(match). There are several different acceptable methods to building a fire. Read below to find out which one suits you best.
Log Cabin Fire
The log cabin method is reliable and easy to build. Start by putting your tinder on the bottom and then stacking some kindling on top of that. From there, starting with your smallest pieces of firewood, begin stacking the firewood in a log cabin style. More specifically, lay two pieces out parallel to each other on either end of the tinder and kindling. Then place two more pieces on top of and perpendicular to the other pieces of firewood.
The advantage to the method is you get a fairly stable pile and the method of stacking allows plenty of oxygen at the fire.
Teepee Style Fire
A "Teepee" style fire is not my favorite because it is easily smothered. However, it does start easily and produces a lot of heat in a short period of time.
This fire starts with tinder and kindling at the bottom, just like as described in the log cabin method. You then begin stacking your small pieces of firewood in a Teepee fashion above the tinder and kindling. You can then proceed to start some medium sized pieces over the smaller ones.
As I mentioned above, this method throws off a lot of heat quickly. However, it is inevitable that the wood will eventually fall over and could potentially smother the fire.
The Top Down Fire
The Top Down fire is counterintuitive to everything you know about building fires, but actually works quite well.
In the Top Down fire, you begin with some medium sized pieces of firewood at the bottom of the pile. Then you stack a couple of smaller pieces of firewood on top of that. Then your kindling and tinder go at the top of the fire.
Simply ignite the tinder at the top of the pile and watch as the fire burns down through the different levels of wood, increasing its intensity as it does.
This method is sure to impress your friends!
Using firestarters is a simple method for burning firewood if you don't mind shelling out a few extra bucks.
Firestarter come in many different shapes and forms but the most common is a brick shape. You simply ignite the brick and it will burn long and hot enough to ignite your firewood without the use of kindling.
Try a few different methods of burning firewood and see which one that you prefer. Personally, I'm a fan of both the "Top Down" and "Log Cabin" methods.
If you are having trouble keeping your fire going, it is most likely a lack of oxygen or wet firewood that is causing you trouble. Good luck and happy burning!
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