How to Build a Fire That will Last

This ONE Basic Skill Could Save Your Life

Learning how to build a fire quickly and EFFICIENTLY is a great help when camping, or spending ANY time outdoors.
In fact, it is one of the essential basic skills that will enable you to survive in many crisis and emergency situations.
You may have your bail out bag strapped to your bag, wearing the latest in outdoor gear and have ten days of food on hand, but if you can’t build a simple fire to cook your food and stay warm, it won’t do you too much good.
Stockpiling stuff is good, but useless, if we don’t get some simple skills under our belt.

What NOT TO USE When Building a Fire:

There are a few things you will want to avoid at all cost:

  • WET wood
  • Wet matches
  • GREEN kindling

So naturally you know, you will want JUST THE OPPOSITE of all the above to be able to build a fire efficiently and well.
It is really not as hard as it seems to make a fire burn well out in the open or even if you are starting one in your stove for the very first time. My husband used to build wood heating stoves so we would often give crash courses on how to start a fire in a new stove for the first time. I was always amazed at how many people have NO idea how to start a fire inside a stove.

How to Build a Fire in Your Stove

A stove like the one pictured here is perfect for heating AND cooking…especially in emergency preparedness situations.

(Click here for a great price on these flat top stoves!


First, make sure you know where the draft system is and how it works. Make sure you know which way to turn the draft so that it is open as that will allow air to get TO your fire and KEEP it burningonce it starts.Once the fire is burning really well, you can then turn the draft down to keep the heat inside the stove and your fire from getting too hot . Have these items ready and handy:

  • DRY kindling, split really small
  • some newspaperscrunched into BALLS not just spread on top of each other in flat pieces.
  • DRY firewood – split fairly small
  • several larger pieces of firewood
  • Old car oil this has been my secret for building a fire FAST for years… it is completely safe to use in any wood stove as it will not explode like kerosene or gasoline.
  • NEVER use gasoline!!






Okay, so first lay a few balls of newspapers inside the stove, layer a handful of kindling on the newspaper scrunchies in sort of a teepee mound and pour some oil on it.
Lay a few more pieces of kindling on top of that. Light it at the bottom of the pile of newspapers….never try to light a fire from the top. The reason for this is to ensure proper draft to keep your fire burning.




How to Keep Your Newly Lit Fire Burning




Many times the reason your newly built fire goes out is because it simplyisn’t getting enough air or draft to keep it going.As it takes off, layer smaller pieces of wood on it to keep it burning andonly when you see that the wood is going to STAY burning do you want to add heavier pieces of wood.The reason for this is that sometimes when you add heavy pieces of wood before the kindling is burning hot enough, it will only extinguish your new flame, and all your effort will be in vain.Believe me, after doing it a few times, you will have it down pat. :)



How to Build a Fire Outdoors

You build a fire outdoors much the same way as inside a stove, except for the fact that you have to be careful with the wind factor, if it’s windy as TOO MUCH air can also extinguish your flames.

One way to help with this is to dig a small dip in the ground or if that isn’t feasible, just make a ring of rocks as that will help break the wind as well.


You want as little wind as possible to get the flame started.

If you happen to be close to a pine forest, and can get access to wood with the pitch still inside, the pitch filled wood pieces make for EXCELLENT kindling material.

There are many times when you want to make a fire outdoors that you won’t have access to oil as a starter so there are natural things that are great fire starters as well.

  • Moss hanging from trees
  • Bark, especially the soft inner birch bark or dry dead bark
  • Dry twigs lying around


Dry moss can actually have much the same effect as newspapers when starting a fire.
I would highly recommend having a magnesium fire-starter in your BOB or survival pack as it really sucks to try to build a fire outdoors with wet matches!
But that is basically it.


In Conclusion…

I am sure there are some tips and tricks others could share – and one of them is that you just need to practice starting a fire with various materials till you feel comfortable with it.
Surprise your friends with your ability to get that fire going at your next backyard campfire party.
And no, I am NOT talking about using a torch burner! =)although I have to admit they are the coolest way I have ever seen to build a hot fire FAST!

 Here is a cool video on how to build a self-feeding fire…