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Starting a fire: How to Stack and Properly Burn Firewood

Starting a fire: How to Stack and Properly Burn Firewood

How to Stack & Properly Burn Firewood

Full disclosure, there are actually many ways to properly stack your firewood. You are probably most familiar with the following two options:

  • Teepee Fire: Stack 3-4 pieces of kindling in the center. Lean small twigs and wood in a teepee shape around it, placed vertically with the ends meeting in the center. Leave space between the pieces of wood, as well as a designated opening to light the kindling. This design will produce a flame quickly, and the logs will collapse when finished.
  • Log Cabin Fire: Lay two pieces of split wood parallel, a short distance apart. Stack a second layer of parallel logs, which are perpendicular to the first layer. 2-3 layers in total should suffice.

There are a number of other shapes such as a Lean-To Fire, a Hunter’s Fire, etc. The commonality is that they allow airflow between the logs. This is one core piece of the combustion triangle, also known as the fire triangle.

The Combustion Triangle

This combustion triangle essentially details the chemical reaction needed to create a fire. You must have equal parts oxygen, energy, and fuel. Remember this, and you will always be set.

Tips for a Safe & Effective Fire

Regardless of the stacking method you decide to go with, there are four key tips to have an optimal fire:

  1. As mentioned, you must stack the wood in a way that allows air to flow between the individual logs.
  2. You need to utilize a good fire starter. Here are three preferred methods from our team:
  • Use a store-bought option, such as Duraflame.
  • Use well-dried kindling. It is better to purchase kindling that is made to be burned, rather than picking up twigs and such outside. It’s because these have a tendency to be wet. If you prefer this route, gather your kindling 12 months ahead, cover it and allow it to properly dry out.
  • Use a handheld blowtorch.
  1. The moisture content of your wood is perhaps the most important factor. The ratio of water weight in the wood to dry weight must be 25% or less. Confirm this with the person or company you’re buying it from. Note: good moisture meters can run up to $500. If you are interested in investing in one, we recommend going with a Delmhorst Moisture Meter.

  2. Smaller wood is faster to ignite, so take your first piece of wood and use a hatchet to split it into 3 or 4 sections. Once the fire has been established, continually add more wood with space between the logs. Keep in mind, it should take approximately 15-20 minutes to have an established fire.

Putting Out Your Fire

Whether you plan to start a fire indoors or outdoors, the process is the same and the tips apply. When you are done with your fire, you should remove at least one of the three elements of the combustion triangle. For example, if it runs out of fuel (i.e. wood), it will smolder. You can cool it off with water, or you can remove the oxygen with a professional fire blanket.

If you have additional questions, we recommend reading about the Environmental Protection Agency’s Burn Wise program. It offers great advice on stacking and cutting your wood, as well as burning it cleanly.

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