How to Start a Fire in a Fire Pit & Other Safety Tips

by | Oct 6, 2021 | Everyday Living, Safety Tips

Roasting Marshmallows in Fire Pit | CPI Security Blog

The air is cool and crisp, you can hear the crunching of freshly fallen leaves beneath your feet, and you have a warm cup of apple cider in your hands. The only thing missing from making this a picture-perfect fall evening is the crackling flames of a fire.

The warmth, smell, and ambiance of a fire are synonymous with fall, but before you strike a match, make sure you know how to start and put out a fire in a fire pit safely. Here, we’ll share fire pit safety tips you should know before you gather around the fire with friends and family this fall.

Types of Fire Pits

There’s nothing like the warmth of a fire to bring your guests closer together. Fire pits are a great outdoor gathering place at home for friends and family. When it comes to building the one right for you, you’ll need to consider which option may work best. Here are a couple of options to consider.

Stone or Brick Fire Pit

After deciding where you want to build your fire pit, consider what types of material you’ll need. Choose a fireproof material like fire brick to make the inner wall of the fire pit first. Then, construct the outer wall of the fire pit with heat-resistant material, including traditional brick, stone, masonry blocks, or concrete pavers.

You can choose between brick or stone based on aesthetics and your budget. Brick is often cheaper than natural stone, but brick may require more repairs which can add up in the long run.

Wood Fire Pit

To achieve the authentic crackling sound and smoky smell, use wood as the heat source in your fire pit. Experienced fire builders recommend using dry, seasoned wood for optimal burning. Some people buy firewood well in advance to ensure it has time to dry. If the firewood still contains moisture, it will smolder when you burn it, or you may have trouble getting it to light.

Gas Fire Pit

You can use liquid propane or natural gas to fuel a gas fire pit. Many homeowners choose liquid propane because it’s easier than tapping into the home’s existing natural gas line. Since gas is fueling the fire, you don’t need firewood. Instead, some people surround the burner with fire glass, lava rock, porcelain fireballs, or metal logs. Just make sure the material you choose is compatible with your heat source.

Gas vs. Wood Fire Pits – How Do You Choose?

Choosing between a gas or wood fire pit depends on your preference. If you’re looking for authenticity, go for the wood fire pit, as gas fire pits can’t mimic the smell or crackling of burning firewood.

However, if you prefer something with low maintenance and convenience, choose a gas fire pit. Starting a fire in a gas fire pit isn’t as labor-intensive, and you can control the size of the flames with the turn of a valve.

Regardless of what type of fire pit you choose, be sure to keep an eye on your backyard and latest investment with a CPI Security Outdoor Camera.

How to Start a Fire in a Fire Pit

You’ve selected your location and the type of fire pit you want, and now you’re probably wondering how to light a fire in a fire pit. Good question! Starting a fire in a wood fire pit will take more time and work than in a gas fire pit, but it can be done in a few simple steps.


The first step in starting a fire is constructing a tinder base. Tinder can be any kind of small, dry material like dry leaves or paper. Choose a material that will light easily and burn quickly.


Surrounding the tinder, build a teepee-like structure with kindling. Kindling is made of small sticks and twigs. Be sure to leave a small gap so air can get through to accelerate the fire. Then, create a teepee around the kindling with your dried firewood.


Once you’ve completed your teepee, use a lighter or matches to ignite the tinder pile. Burning the tinder pile first creates a domino effect; once the fire burns through the tinder pile, it will move to the kindling teepee, and then your firwood teepee will catch on fire.

Fire Pit Safety Tips

You want to spend your fall evening relaxing in front of a toasty fire, not worrying about or dealing with an avoidable accident because your fire got out of control. All novice fire builders should brush up on these basic fire pit safety tips before sparking a flame.*

  • Position your fire pit on level ground.
  • Never position your fire pit beneath a building, overhang, or in an enclosed space.
  • Be careful of overhanging trees that can easily catch on fire from wood-fire sparks.
  • Check the wind direction before lighting a fire.
  • Avoid burning construction materials like plywood or composite woods, which can release toxic fumes.
  • Keep a bucket of sand or a garden hose nearby to tame any haywire sparks and flames.
  • Have a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket nearby.

Fire Pit Safety Rules for Your Guests

To keep your night around the fire as safe as possible, make sure your guests abide by fire pit safety rules too. Here are a few fire pit safety rules you could share with them in advance.

  • Make sure your guests don’t get too close to the fire. It’s best to position chairs at least three feet away from the fire pit.*
  • If your guests are switching seats, ask them to walk behind the chairs so they keep their distance from the fire pit.
  • Don’t allow horseplay near the fire pit.
  • Encourage your guests to avoid wearing loose clothing that could easily catch on fire if they lean toward the fire pit.

Fire Pit Safety FAQs

There is a lot to consider when building a fire pit in your backyard. To make things easier, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions about starting and putting out a fire in a fire pit.

How far away should a fire pit be from a house?

In general, your fire pit should be anywhere from 10 to 20 feet away from your home. We recommend checking local ordinances or your HOA rules to ensure you’re in compliance.*

What to put under a fire pit?

Place your fire pit atop a heat-resistant surface like cement, landscaping tiles, or concrete. You could also buy a fire pit pad or mat to place under a fire pit**

How hot does a fire pit get?

The highest temperature a campfire can reach is roughly 2,012 degrees Fahrenheit.***

How to dispose of ashes from a fire pit?

Allow the ashes to cool and then empty them into a tightly closed metal container. Keep the container shut and away from combustible material for several days before disposing of the container completely. Ashes can contain heat for several days, so throwing them in the trash too soon can easily start a fire. ****

By carefully considering these options and fire pit safety tips, you’ll have a fire started and your family gathering in no time. For other topics that could keep your family safe and more information on fire safety, visit our blog today!





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