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5 Ways To Start a Fire in a Fire Pit

 Feb 11, 2022    Outdoor Living

5 Ways To Start a Fire in a Fire Pit

It’s nearly that time of year, again. With the warm evenings of spring and summer right around the corner, it’s time to get your outdoor fire pit set up and ready to use. It doesn’t get much better than sitting around your backyard with friends and family on a warm summer night, but not being able to start a fire in your fire pit will ruin your relaxation time in a hurry. 

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to start a fire in your fire pit or need some other ideas for burning in your backyard fire pit area this season, we’ve designed this resource to help you get the fire started and the festivities up and running. 

Fire Pit Safety

Before we dive into different types of DIY fire pits and how to start a fire pit fire that everyone in the family will enjoy, it’s important to understand some basic fire pit safety precautions. This is especially important for parents of young children and homes with a fire pit close to their dwellings. A few precautions to consider when enjoying your backyard fire pit include: 

  • Safe placement of your fire pit

  • Understanding what you can and can’t burn in your backyard fire pit

  • How to safely start and put out a fire in a fire pit

Keeping your friends, loved ones and your home safe when burning a fire in your fire pit is a top priority. Of course, understanding the do’s and don’ts of your backyard fire feature is also crucial to keeping everyone safe and enjoying your new fire pit. 

Fire Pit Safety

Safe Placement of Your Fire Pit

Place your fire pit on even ground, at least three feet, or 36 inches, away from flammable structures and objects such as trees, shrubs, small outdoor fire pitsheds, decks and homes. Depending on the size of your outdoor fire pit, you may want to keep it at least 10 feet away from any other objects.

Ensure nothing is sitting above your home fire pit as high-reaching flames can ignite low-hanging branches or shrubs. Whether you’d like to build a large fire feature or a tiny patio fire pit, always be sure to check with local fire codes and regulations before settling on a permanent location for your new features.

Even a small outdoor fire pit can be a hazard when it's not placed in a safe location around your property. 

Understanding What You Can and Can't Burn in Your Backyard Fire Pit 

You’ll only want to use the materials that are designed for being burned in your outdoor fire pit. Almost every home fire pit is designed to burn either wood or gas as its primary fuel source. Loose debris such as leaves or paper can be easily scooped up and carried away by the wind, creating the potential for wildfires and other hazards. 

How To Safely Start and Put Out a Fire in a Fire Pit

Avoid using lighter fluid or gasoline to help you start a fire. Using these household fire starters can cause issues such as explosions and dangerously large flames that will reach other areas around your property and backyard. Likewise, understanding how to properly put out a fire burning in your fire pit is equally important to the safety of your home and loved ones. 

metal fire pit coverAlways ensure your fire pit fire is completely out before going inside for the night. If you’re using a propane or natural gas fire pit, you’ll want to turn off the gas and check to make sure the flames are out entirely. 

If you have a simple wood fire pit set up with no other fuel source, then the best way to put out your fire pit fires is to douse the flames, spread the ashes around the pit and repeat until the ashes are cool to the touch. Be sure there are no signs of smoke or smoldering flames before going inside for the night. 

Just in case you need to put a fire out immediately, you’ll also want to keep a hose, a bucket of sand or dirt and a fire extinguisher nearby as you enjoy your backyard fire pit fires. We also carry a variety of fire pit snuffers and covers designed to put your fire pit fires out and keep them out. 

Types of DIY Outdoor Fire Pits

The joys of building your fire pit are understated at times. Nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment you get from building something like a home fire pit, and then the pleasure that comes with enjoying it all night alongside family friends. 

Although your backyard or patio fire pit customization options are seemingly endless, the three main setups you can choose to go with for your DIY fire pit project are: 

  • Wood burning fire pit

  • Gas-assisted wood burning fire pit

  • Gas burning fire pit  

The type of fire pit you decide on will determine how you go about starting fires. Either way, outdoor wood burning or propane fire pits are excellent alternatives to your traditional backyard bonfire or small campfire setups as they offer an added layer of protection against the fire raging out of control. 

build a fire pit

Metal and concrete fire pits are designed to house your backyard fires within them while still offering DIY enthusiasts an opportunity to make their fire pit area a unique place to call their own. Relaxing and enjoying those warm summer evenings with the family is just a little bit better while sitting next to a custom-built fire pit. 

Wood Burning Fire Pit

The most common type of DIY outdoor fire pit is a traditional wood-burning fire pit area. These can be large or small outdoor fire pits, but as long as they are designed to burn wood logs, you’ll have a wood-burning pit. 

Building a wood-burning fire pit in your backyard can be as simple as placing some stones in a neat circle around a level and cleared patch of ground, or they can consist of more elaborate setups using decorative stones, cement features and other add-ons to enhance the area.  

Gas-Assisted Wood Burning Fire Pit 

Gas-assisted fire pits offer homeowners the experience of a wood-burning fire without the hassle of gathering materials and working to get a wood fire started. A gas-assisted wood-burning fire pit uses natural gas or liquid propane gas (LPG) to help get your wood logs burning. 

Once your wood logs are fully engulfed in flames, you turn off the gas burner and you’re left with a healthy wood-burning fire. These hybrid types of wood and gas fire pits are designed to make starting a wood fire quick, easy and hassle-free.

The best part is you don’t have to hand-select firewood logs all day, and if necessary you can even use damp firewood in your fire pit. Just beware of the crackling and popping sounds that come from burning wet firewood logs -- it's startling!

Log lighters will also help you keep the fire burning in a fire pit, and if it does go out, then you can quickly restart your fire again.  

Gas Burning Fire Pit

As you can probably guess, a gas-burning fire pit uses only natural gas or LPG as its primary fuel source for burning fires. You have a range of customization options when it comes to gas-burning fire pits. It’s important to know that gas fire features are meant for fire glass, lava rock, ceramic river stones and other luxury fire pit media – not real hardwood. 

A gas-burning feature is an excellent choice for apartment living, densely populated urban areas or other locations where you need a small patio fire pit, and freely burning real wood logs isn’t an option.

Don’t be fooled though, building a DIY propane fire pit or natural gas feature is hard work. Connecting a gas-burning fire pit is a tough task for the casual weekend DIY lover. That’s why you’ll need to contact a gas installation professional to help you run the gas lines and connect your fire pit gas burners to a fuel source. From there, you can customize your features with a range of different burner types and designs. You can truly make your fire pit a unique place to gather and relax with close friends and family.  

5 ways to start a fire in a fire pit infographic

5 Ways to Start a Fire In Your Outdoor Wood or Gas Fire Pit

Once you’ve narrowed down your primary fuel source and a general design or layout for your outdoor fire pit, it’s time to get the party started and light a fire. There are several ways to light outdoor gas fire pits and wood pits, but today, we're breaking down the following ways to get a fire going in your fire pit:

  1. How to light a wood fire pit the traditional way

  2. How to light a wood fire pit using a log lighter system

  3. How to light a gas fire pit using a match-lit system

  4. How to light a gas fire pit using an electronic ignition system

  5. How to light a gas fire pit using a push-button ignition system

We're going over these five ways to get a fire started in a fire pit. Whether you have a wood or gas feature installed, you can rest assured that Fireplace Doors Online is here to help you get the festivities up and running so everyone can enjoy those warm summer evenings next to the fire. Again, safety needs to be the top priority, so be sure to follow your local fire codes and pay close attention to any burn bans and nearby hazards before lighting your fire pit.

outdoor wood fire pitStarting a fire in an outdoor wood fire pit requires gathering the right materials and equipment to quickly and efficiently light a fire. You can light a wood fire using the traditional method or you can install a log lighter system that’s designed to eliminate a few steps and get your fire going full blaze within a couple of minutes.  You’ll need to gather the following items to start your wood-burning fire pit: 

  • Long-stemmed matches: these are available at most grocery and retail stores. You can also use an ordinary lighter but please beware of overheating and the dangers associated with cheap lighters. The matches or lighter is used to ignite the tinder.   

  • Tinder: these are small pieces of dry debris that can be easily lit with a match such as pine needles, tree bark or shredded newspaper. Tinder is used to ignite your kindling, just make sure it’s dry.  

  • Kindling: these are small dry sticks, twigs or other pieces of wood used to build the base of your outdoor fire. Kindling is used to ignite your wood logs.   

  • Wood logs: split, dry wood is best for your fire pit logs and other firewood. You’ll want a combination of large and small logs to get your fire pit fires burning long and healthy.  

Be sure to gather enough tinder, kindling and wood logs to get your fire started and keep it going. Given you don’t have much trouble starting a fire, you’ll need more wood logs to burn in a fire pit than you will tinder or kindling. Next, it’s time to light a fire by following these steps to start a wood fire pit: 

  1. Generously pile your tinder in the center of your fire pit.

  2. Stack your smallest pieces of kindling on top of your tinder leaving enough room for the fire to breathe and grow from your tinder. A pyramid-shaped stack of kindling over top of the tinder works best for starting a wood fire pit.  

  3. Using a long-stemmed match or high-quality lighter, ignite the pile of tinder and wait for it the flames to reach your initial stack of small pieces of kindling.

  4. Add larger pieces of kindling to the fire until you have a sustained, healthy blaze. 

  5. Once you have an initial fire going with your tinder and kindling, it’s time to add a small wood log or two. 

  6. Continue adding wood logs to the fire until you have a large, healthy blaze going in your fire pit. Keep building your fire by adding larger wood logs on top of the smaller ones. 

  7. Break out the marshmallows, hot dogs and lawn chairs, it’s time to enjoy a peaceful, relaxing evening next to your backyard fire pit!   

Whether you’re starting a campfire, a bonfire or a luxury wood-burning fire feature, follow these steps to get your wood fires burning strong and the festivities going in full swing. Feel free to experiment with different types of tinder, kindling and firewood for your fire pit and use whichever combination you think works best for you. 

Log Lighters for Wood Fire PitsA log lighter system is one of the best fire pit accessories for making your life easier. A log lighter is a match-lit system that uses natural gas or LPG as a fuel supply. You simply open your gas valve and use a match to ignite a flame which then lights your firewood logs. 

If you’re not comfortable using a match or open flame around your fire pit, some users in the log lighter community like to light a small bundle of tinder before opening their gas valve to ignite their system. This way as soon as the gas is open, your flames ignite. Using a little bit of tinder for this also helps with any backups of gas and prevents blowouts on your gas lines.  

There are obvious benefits to using a log lighter system for your fire pit, but as always you’ll want to consult with a qualified gas professional and check local codes before moving forward with any installation plans. 

Once your fire pit is safely equipped with the log lighter kit of your choice, here’s what you’ll need to start a fire using one of these systems: 

  • A log grate 

  • A long-stemmed match or quality grill lighter – the kind that clicks

  • Different sizes of wood logs

Once you have all of these items together and ready to go, you’re ready to start a fire. Follow these steps to light a fire using a log lighter system: 

  1. Use a log grate to hold and stack a few of your wood logs above your log lighting system. 

  2. Slowly turn on the supply of natural or LPG gas using your valve key to open the line. 

  3. Using a long-stemmed match or long, slender high-quality grill lighter centered ignite your log lighter. 

  4. After you’ve lit your log lighter device, turn off the gas supply by turning the valve key to the closed position – don’t forget to remove your valve key from the valve.     

  5. Continue adding wood logs to your fire until you have a steady, healthy blaze burning in your backyard fire pit. 

  6. Pull up a chair, get the kids and break out a bag of marshmallows, it’s time to relax next to the fire! 

The beauty of a log lighter system is you don’t need to hand-select the perfect wood logs for burning in your fire pit. The instant base of flames you get out of a log lighter device means you don’t need dried firewood for your fire pit. 

easy way to light a fire in a fire pit

Starting your backyard gas-burning fire pit is a much different experience than building a wood fire from scratch or using a log lighter system to get your wood logs burning. Gas fire pits eliminate the need to gather materials, chop wood and expose yourself to the dangers associated with building traditional wood fires. 

Lighting a Gas Fire Pit Using a Match-Lit System infographic

Gas fire features are excellent choices for anyone who is sensitive to the smoke produced by burning wood logs or for anyone living in an area where burning wood isn’t an option – such as those of you living in an apartment, rental home or densely populated urban area.  

A match-lit gas fire pit system makes starting a fire in your fire pit quick and easy. You’ll need your gas fire feature and a long-stemmed match or long slender grill lighter. 

Follow these steps to start a fire using a match-lit ignition system on your gas fire pit: 

  1. Insert your valve key and turn on your fire pit’s gas supply. 

  2. Using your long-stemmed match or lighter, ignite the gas until the burner on your gas fire pit or patio fire feature produces flames – this happens almost instantly depending on wind conditions. 

  3. Adjust your gas supply to either increase or decrease the flames on your gas fire pit to your desired height and output. 

Match-lit gas systems are affordable and you can install them on your existing fire pit or gas feature. The only thing left to do is grab some friends, pull up some chairs and relax next to the fire pit! 

Electronic ignition systems eliminate the need to light your gas fire pit using a match or lighter to ignite the flames. Electronic ignitions use batteries to ignite the fire in your gas fire pit while you maintain a safe distance. Many electronic ignition systems offer built-in technology that senses when your flame is dissipating and automatically relights your fire pit for you. 

Electronic ignition systems can be connected and operated using a remote control, a smartphone app or even a wall switch that allows you to start a blaze safely from a distance. Here’s how a gas fire pit is started using an electronic ignition system: 

  1. Turn the system on using your remote control, wall switch or other devices

  2. The system administers a quick safety check before beginning the flow of gas to your fire pit. 

  3. Within a few seconds of the safety check, the pilot flame is ignited. 

  4. The gas flowing to the main burner is ignited by the pilot. 

  5. Your gas fire pit is up and running in a full blaze within seconds of starting the system. Simply use your remote or wall switch to turn the fire pit off and extinguish the flame.   

Electronic ignition systems make enjoying your fire pit possible at any time of year, regardless of the conditions outside. These ignition systems are also ideal ways to start fires in a gas fire pit when you have small pets or kids playing in the backyard and you want to keep them safely away from the flames as they ignite. The technology involved with starting your gas fire pit appeals to homeowners who prefer a hands-off approach to lighting fires. 

DIY fire pit ideas

Push-button ignition systems light a fire pit by creating a spark to ignite the gas source when you push the button, similar to starting a gas grill. Push-button systems work using a AA battery to create the spark you need to start your fire pit. The battery-operated ignition makes starting a fire quick and effortless even in less than ideal weather conditions. 

Here’s how to start a fire pit with a push-button ignition system: 

  1. Turn the valve control knob to start the flow of natural gas or LPG to your fire pit. 

  2. As you turn the valve control knob to initiate the flow of gas to your fire pit, push the button on your ignition system. This creates the spark to light your fire pit’s pilot. 

  3. Once the pilot is lit on your feature, release the push-button before releasing the control knob. 

  4. Release the control knob about 20 seconds after you release the push-button.  

  5. Turn the control knob counterclockwise to light the main burner and further adjust the height or size of your flames. 

  6. When you’re ready to turn off your gas fire pit for the night, simply turn the control knob to the OFF position. This will stop the flow of gas to your fire pit feature and shut down the flames.   

Many of the push-button fire pit systems we carry in the Fireplace Doors Online store come with safety features that recognize when the flames are dissipating and stop the flow of gas to the burner. Remember, it's important to have a qualified professional install your gas fire pit features and run the lines to your fuel source. Not consulting a professional regarding your installation can cause dangerous issues with your gas fire pit.  

For example, having a burner that’s too big or too small for your feature creates issues with the flames and the flow of propane or natural gas to your fire pit feature. Always consult a professional gas installation provider when setting up your gas fire pit.  

Putting Your Fire Pit Area Together With a Little Help from Fireplace Doors Online

Depending on the type of feature you have installed in your backyard or around your property, there are several ways to start a fire in a home fire pit. The fun of lighting a wood fire pit to enjoy with friends and family appeals to many homeowners, especially those with ample space around their property to enjoy long-burning fires. Others appreciate gas features for their clean-burning fires and easy lighting options.    

With warm summer nights right around the corner, are you ready to get started designing your backyard fire pit area? If so, you’ve come to the right place.    

shop fire tables for sale in the FDO store

Fireplace Doors Online carries an assortment of outdoor fire pits, burner systems and gas fire features designed to fit any budget and property type. From small wood-burning fire pits to decorative fire tables and fire bowls, we have a fire pit to meet your needs. 

Interested in taking on a DIY challenge? We have something for even the most dedicated DIY homeowners. With our DIY gas fire pit setups and ready to finish gas fire pit kits, you can design the backyard fire pit area of your dreams. 

Maybe you’re just looking for a new burner system to match your gas fire pit? Check out our assortment of match-lit and electronic burner systems designed to make lighting your home fire pit quick and easy. 

Don’t wait until the last minute to get your backyard or patio area set up and ready for the warm summertime weather. Investing in a new gas burner system now means spending more quality time gathered around the fire pit relaxing with your friends, family and loved ones later!  

Need help finding the right fire pit, burner system or other accessories for your wood or gas fire features? 

Give us a call at 888-986-1535 or contact us online and a member of the Fireplace Doors Online team will be more than happy to help you get set up!  


Last updated on May 4th 2024.


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