A roaring fire. There’s something about one that just speaks to us as men. It kinda makes you want to chop wood in the forest in a flannel, howl at the moon, and cook a large animal over a massive blaze like a badass outdoorsman. And, there are few more essential life skills than knowing how to quickly and easily start that fire without endangering innocent bystanders, Mother Nature, or burning your own house down. So, whether you’re enjoying the outdoors, roasting an entire animal on a spit, or just looking to post up by the fireplace with a whiskey and a friendly companion, fire-building skills are huge.
Sorry to sound like your Mom or Dad, but let’s start with a little bit of common sense here. If you’re building a fire outside, build your fire in a danger-free zone (away from any dry grasses, brush, etc) and make sure to keep it properly contained. Wherever you are, make sure you’re observing the local fire season laws too. If you’re indoors, the chimney flue should be open and clear and you should have a window open for some air flow.
The Right Materials
The first step to a kick-ass fire is starting with the right materials. You’ll need:
- Large logs – the drier the better
- Kindling – smaller logs and twigs
- Tinder – dry leaves, grass, or crumpled newspaper
- Fire Starter (optional) – starter sticks or blocks – they’ll burn quick and hot
- Matches or a lighter
Let's Get Lit
There are plenty of different techniques out there, but after extensive research and a bit of practice, we’ve become fans of the “Upside Down” fire-building technique. Made popular by efficiency hacking god Tim Ferriss, this technique flies in the face of traditional teepee-style methods and builds with the larger logs on the bottom and the starter on top. This method works well both indoors and out, and ultimately burns longer and with less smoke thanks to its inverted build. Here’s how to do it right.
- Start with the largest logs first on the bottom. Keep them as close together as possible.
- Add smaller or split logs on top.
- Next, add the kindling on top of your log pile.
- Top with crumpled newspaper strips or other tinder.
- Light your starter squares or tinder and place on top of the rest of your tinder.
- Let it burn baby!
Now it’s time to exercise a little patience, it will take about 20 minutes for the fire to get going. Check in every so often to make sure it’s burning, but don’t mess with it too much. Once it does get going, you can kick back, admire your handiwork and give yourself a self high-five, you crushed it. Hey, maybe even pour yourself a drink, you earned it.