How to Stack Wood for a Fire

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Whether in a fireplace, fire pit or campsite, a fire needs fuel, oxygen and a heat source to start and continue to burn efficiently. Wood that is properly stacked will help to make a fire easier to start and maintain, allowing both heat and oxygen to move freely through the fuel. Begin with a good, dry tinder as a fire starter. Dried leaves, paper or wood shavings work well. Then add kindling, such as sticks, twigs or bark. Finally, add the logs. Here are three basic stacking patterns that will help you start your fire and keep it going.

Things You'll Need

  • Tinder
  • Kindling
  • Wood logs
  • Matches

Tepee Method

  • Gather dry tinder and kindling. Place the tinder loosely in the center of the fire site. Add kindling on top of the tinder so that it will not smother the tinder when lit.

  • Place three medium-sized logs on end at equal distances from each other, angled inward at about 45 degrees. Place the logs so that the ends balance against each other to form a rough tripod.

  • Hold the top of the logs in place with one hand. Add more logs around the tripod one at a time, to build up a teepee shape. As the shape forms and can stand easily on its own, release the top of the logs.

  • Leave a small space between some of the logs so that you can start the tinder once the firewood is ready. Once the fire is started, the inner logs will burn down to coals first to form a heat core. As the fire burns, add more logs to the teepee.

Lean-to

  • Gather and place the tinder and kindling as for the teepee method.

  • Place a large log, between 8 and 10 inches, at the back of the fire site. Place tinder loosely in front of the log, followed with kindling.

  • Stack the ends of smaller logs across the large log so that the ends are held up off the ground. Stack the smaller logs closely next to each other and over the tinder and kindling.

  • Start the tinder by reaching under the lean-to. Once the kindling has started, the fire will reach up between the smaller logs. As these burn down, stack more logs against the larger log in the same manner.

Log Cabin

  • Gather and place the tinder and kindling as for the other two methods.

  • Place two equally sized logs on either side of the tinder and kindling.

  • Turn two more equally sized logs 90 degrees to the first logs and lay them across the ends of the logs, similar to the way a log cabin is built.

  • Place several smaller logs completely across the last two logs to form the "roof" of the cabin.

  • Light the tinder. As the fire burns, the interior of the cabin will catch, concentrating the heat in the middle of the fire, providing a good core of coals for a particularly warm and long-lasting fire. Add more logs across the last set as needed.

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