How to Start a Fire in a Metal Fire Pit

| May 25, 2013 | 0 Comments

How to Start a Fire in a Metal Fire Pit

A metal fire pit is a wonderful accessory for backyard cooking and leisure, and because many styles are portable, you can count on them to add excitement to your camp space as well. To get you started off on the right foot, let’s discuss how to start a fire in a metal fire pit.

You’ll see just how simple lighting a fire in a fire pit can be. The recipe for a glowing, warm fire only requires three ingredients and anyone can make it come out right every time.

Everything Comes in Threes

Let’s keep this simple and make a few lists of threes so that they’re easy to remember.

  • Three Reasons to Start a Fire in a Metal Fire pit
  1. Relaxation Just sit and enjoy the crackle and atmosphere a fire creates.
  2. Cooking Snacks Smores, roasted marshmallows, and even Starbursts taste great when warmed over a toasty fire.
  3. Grilling Meals From hamburgers to a leg of lamb, you can do it all with a fire pit.
  • Three Ingredients Needed to Light a Fire Pit
  1. Oxygen Air is free, just make sure plenty gets into your fire pit.
  2. Heat For safety, use a long-handled butane lighter or a fireplace match.
  3. Fuel The stuff you burn. Usually small logs, tree limbs, cardboard, paper, etc. Charcoal also works, but it doesn’t produce a flame.
  • Three Types of Fuel for Fire
  1. Tinder The most common items around your home or yard that work well are shredded paper, dried grass or leaves, dryer lint, and small sticks. The trick here is that tinder consists of very small materials that you can fluff up to allow lots of oxygen to circulate.
  2. Kindling Collect or split a bunch of sticks about the diameter of a pencil or slightly smaller; enough to fill a bucket.
  3. Fuelwood For a metal fire pit in your back yard, these small logs shouldn’t be any bigger around than a rolling pin.
  • Three Types of Fires
  1. Teepee Fire You’ll simply stack the kindling on end, leaning slightly inward, in a circle around the tinder bundle before you light the fire. Then add more wood as desired. The burning logs will topple inward, creating a base of coals for additional logs.A teepee style fire will produce high flames that stretch well above the fire pan so use caution when adding fuel.   This is an excellent fire for relaxing and watching. It’s also great for roasting snacks when the flames die down a little.
  2. Pyramid Fire Place two of the largest logs in the bottom of the pan, several inches apart and place the tinder bundle and kindling between them. Next, place a layer of logs that stretch from one base log to the other, but leave plenty of space for your tinder and kindling. Add more layers of logs, each time alternating direction and using smaller logs or sticks as you go. For a metal fire pit, 3-5 layers is plenty, with the top layer being small sticks.  Pyramid fires generate a lot of flame and heat as well as a very good bed of coals for cooking. They burn for one to two hours.
  3. Upside Down Fire Build this similarly to a pyramid fire, but place the tinder bundle and kindling on the top of the stack. This video offers an excellent tutorial on how to build an upside down fire.

An upside down fire works well for cooking and roasting, but like a pyramid fire, it will need to burn for about an hour before a good bed of coals exists.

Manufactured Logs vs. Real Firewood

Let’s stick with our lists of three when comparing these two types of fuel for a fire pit.

Manufactured Logs
1. They burn a long time.
2. They are easy to obtain in stores.
3. They start easily.

1. They are filled with chemicals.
2. They can be costly.
3. You cannot cook over them due to toxic fumes.

Real Wood
1. It can be free if you or your neighbors have yard waste.
2. It doesn’t have added chemicals, making it great for cooking.
3. Smoke adds a natural flavor to many foods.

1. Requires labor to cut and gather.
2. Takes longer to start on fire.
3. Coals can heat food unevenly.

Lighting a Fire in a Metal Fire Pit

For a detailed explanation, please read “How to Start a Fire in a Fire Pit.”

Things You’ll Need Long handled lighter or matches, sand, and fuel (wood).

Step 1 Pour 2-3 inches of sand into the metal fire pit. This will insulate the metal from hot coals and thereby prolong the life of your fire pit.

Step 2 Gather all the tinder, kindling, and fuelwood you will need before attempting to light it.

Step 3 Choose a fire style (teepee, pyramid, upside down) and arrange the wood accordingly. Be sure there is plenty of ventilation.

Step 4 Light the tinder bundle in several places with a long-handled lighter or match. Blow gently into the bundle to add oxygen if necessary. Add additional tinder or kindling to help the fire start.

WARNING  Do not use lighter fluid or gasoline. There is too much potential to burn yourself.

TIP  Tape a normal sized stick match to a longer piece of kindling to keep your hands away from the flame.

Step 5 Add fuel to increase the size of the fire or to prolong it. Use caution whenever putting your hands near a fire.

Step 6 Time to enjoy the fire. Place a spark screen over top of the metal fire pit if you have one. When the coals are ready, remove the screen and get cookin’.

Step 7 When you’re all done, let the fire burn down completely. When the coals and fire pan are cool to the touch, empty the sand. If you use water to douse the fire, remember, wet sand will rust your fire pit, so you’ll still need to remove it.

Enjoy your Fire Pit Often

Starting a fire in a metal fire pit is a quick and simple process. Once you’ve done it once, you’ll be an expert and will have a perfect alternative to cooking or staying indoors on beautiful evenings. It’s a growing trend that you won’t want to miss out on.

Filed Under: How To Guides