How to Keep a Fire Pit Going (Solved)

Whether you’re lighting a fire pit in the backyard or in the woods while camping, it’s essential to keep a fire pit going. However, depending on the situation, you may need to use different methods and preparation.

If you’re not familiar with fire pits or keeping a fire going in general, you might not know the best options. Fortunately, we’ve compiled the top seven methods to keep a fire pit going. So, throw some wood on and get your chairs ready, here’s everything you need to know. 

1. Use the Right Firewood

At first glance, all wood may seem the same. However, the type of wood you uses matters because each species burns differently. Some varieties can burn quickly, while others are good for smoldering, long-term fires. That said, you may just be using whatever wood you have lying around, so you might not know what type it is. Nonetheless, here’s a rundown of the best woods to use for a fire pit. 

  • Ash – This wood is plentiful and burns for a long time. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance fire that provides a lot of heat, ash is an excellent choice. 
  • Beech – This wood can make your outdoor fire area smell slightly sweet, so you’ll want to spend more time around the fire. Beech is a dense wood, so it also lasts a long time. 
  • Cherry – If you’re not adept at lighting a fire, cherry wood works perfectly because it’s easy to ignite. Even better, you don’t have to stoke it too often, either. But, cherry is a bit harder to find, so you’ll have to plan accordingly. 
  • Maple – If you’ve ever had maple wood smoked bacon, you know that this wood is perfect for grilling and smoking meats. So, if your fire pit doubles as a cast iron grill, lay a bed of maple down. 
  • Oak – When this wood is wet, it can take days for it to dry out. However, dry oak is plentiful and easy to find. It also can lead to a somewhat smokeless fire, although it does produce some smoke. 
  • Pine – Here is another abundant wood you can find pretty much anywhere. Pine wood works best for kindling because it’s light and burns fast. Pine also adds that signature crackle to your fire as the flames ignite the oxygen inside. 

2. Increase Your Firewood Size

When building a fire from scratch, you need three primary sources of wood – tinder, kindling, and fuel. Tinder is often wood shavings, while kindling is small twigs and sticks. As your fire builds, you can add larger pieces that will burn longer. 

As you increase the size of your firewood, you need to consider how long it will take each piece to ignite. If you add too much wood at once, it could suffocate the fire and cause it to go out. Similarly, if you toss a massive log on a small fire, it will take too long to burn, and the fire will die down before it can spread. 

As a rule, you should keep all your firewood in identical pieces. However, if you’re going to add logs to your fire, make sure it’s large and hot enough to accommodate them. Also, consider whether you want a smoldering or a raging fire. If the latter, you should add lots of dry wood to build the flames higher. If you want a smoldering fire, large, dense firewood should do the trick. 

3. Protect Your Fire Pit From the Wind

Although oxygen is an essential component of any fire, too much can cause the flames to go out. Similarly, if you’re keeping an outdoor fire pit going while camping, high winds could potentially cause a wildfire. Typically, embers can float on the air and ignite nearby fuel sources like trees, brush, and dry leaves. 

But, how can you protect your fire pit from the wind? There are a few ways. First, you can use a metal (i.e., cast iron) pit with tall sides. These sides should prevent wind from suffocating the base of the fire, ensuring it will stay lit for a long time.

Second, you can build a makeshift windbreaker. In this case, the wind has to be coming from the same direction for the breaker to work. All you need is two pieces of broad, flat wood (or cardboard) and place them in front of the fire against the wind. Make sure to angle the pieces so the wind blows on either side of the fire. Also, don’t put them too close to the flames or they could ignite as well. 

4. Keep Your Fire Pit Dry 

High wind usually feeds a fire before putting it out. However, water will extinguish your flames much more easily, so you need to keep everything dry at all times. If rain is in the forecast, you’ll have to find a cover for your fire pit. However, covering the fire can be dangerous if you put the ceiling too close. Instead, you need sufficient room for the heat and smoke to vacate without igniting or melting your cover. 

You must also keep all your fire pit peripherals dry as well. These elements include extra firewood, the pit itself, and any other fuel sources. For example, if you’re using a propane fire on your patio, you should keep the tank out of the rain. Similarly, if you’re using a fire starter like lighter fluid, it must also stay dry. If water mixes with the fluid, it could cause mini-explosions or fireballs as the oxygen ignites. 

5. Give Your Fire Air

As we mentioned, air often feeds a fire. So, if your flames are starting to go out, adding some air can help keep the good times rolling. If you’re using a metal fire pit, it should have holes at the bottom to allow air and wind to blow through. However, if you’re using a ground fire pit, you may need to fan the flames to make them burn hotter and longer. 

The simplest method to give your fire air is to use a makeshift fan out of practically anything large and flat. We also recommend fanning your fire as you add more fuel, as doing this will help the new pieces ignite faster. 

6. Weatherproof Your Fire Pit

Wind, rain, and other weather elements can put your fire out faster than you can react. So, you need to prepare the pit beforehand so you’re ready for anything. Here are some tips on how to weatherproof your fire pit: 

  • Use a Semi-Permanent Cover – If you’re starting a fire in your backyard or patio, having a cover above the pit can help protect it from the elements. 
  • Use a Pit Cover – When you’re not using the fire pit, it should be covered with a metal lid. This way, water, dirt, and other elements can’t find their way inside to ruin your next fire. 
  • Use a Metal Pit – Metal doesn’t get affected by the elements as much, so your pit should be made of high-quality materials. If you have a ground fire pit, try to surround it with stones instead. 
  • Use Alternative Fuel – Burning wood can be pretty tricky when you’re just using matches. Alternatively, you can use fuel sources like propane or lighter fluid to get the flames going. 

7. When In Doubt, Add More Wood

If you want to keep your fire pit going, you need fuel. So, keeping some firewood handy ensures that you can always keep the flames going as long as possible. That said, the longer a fire burns, the more ash and embers it generates.

Over time, a fire can become too dangerous and could potentially start a wildfire. Fortunately, you’d have to burn wood for hours and hours to create this problem, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it. That said, if you keep a fire burning overnight, it’s best to extinguish it completely in the morning and then start with a fresh fire to reduce the amount of embers and sparks present. 

Finally, once you’re finished with the fire pit, find out how to put out your fire pit easily and safetly.

FAQs About How to Keep a Fire Pit Going

We’ve covered a lot of information about keeping a fire pit going. But, here’s a frequently asked question that can provide some additional insight. 

How Can You Keep a Fire Pit Going With Wet Wood? 

As a rule, wet wood won’t burn. Instead, you have to dry the wood to use it in a fire pit. However, what also matters is the wetness of the wood. If it’s soaked through, you have to put it aside and use it another time. If it’s only slightly wet, you can toss it onto a raging fire and it will eventually start burning. 

Wet wood can only burn once all the water has evaporated from it. So, adding wet wood to your campfire will generate a lot of steam. If you’re not careful, you could burn your lungs with both steam and wood smoke. 

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Author at Wilderness Redefined camping website

James has been escaping to the outdoors for as long as he can remember. This first started in family camping trips but soon turned into adventure camps and hiking through the Scottish Hebrides. Now he has turned towards trying to make camping more comfortable and accessible.