How to stack wood for a fire pit?

Starting a fire in your fire pit can be a little bit of a challenge. But don't let it both you too much. Everyone has to learn how to get a fire going in there fire pit. Even if you've done it before, there tends to be some steps that you can't remember. Believe me, I know.

Stacking your wood correctly for your fire pit is the key to getting your fire started right. You need to start with the right materials; kindling, small sticks, medium pieces of wood, and large pieces of wood. Build a tepee with your larger pieces and place the kindling below it. In this post we will go into the details on how to stack your wood properly for your fire pit.


The first step you need to take is to get the right materials. You can buy materials at the store or you can find them in your yard or the area where you are building your fire.

Preparing your materials beforehand will keep you from having to stop and look for more materials when you are in the middle of starting your fire. It will also ensure you have dry material.

If it rains or there is a high dew point on the day you are going to make your fire, you may not be able to find wood and other materials dry enough to use in your fire. Also, fresh wood from a tree will burn, but dryer wood burns faster and is easier to get started.


Kindling is material that will burn quickly when lit. You can buy kindling sticks in the store. They are basically very dry sticks that catch fire easily.

If you decide to use natural material that you can find around your fire site, then you should start early. Gathering this kind of material ahead of time will ensure you have dry kindling to work with.

Natural kindling consists of dry leaves, twigs, pine needles, small sticks, bark, wood shavings, or any other dry organic material you can find that will burn quickly.


You should collect a variety of sticks to aid in building your fire pit fire. Small sticks will help turn the heat up once you have your fire started.

Medium pieces of wood

Most of the time it will take a little bit of time to get your larger pieces of wood to catch on fire. Medium wood pieces will help keep the fire going. Medium sticks will catch fire quickly and help to bridge the flames to the larger pieces of wood. If you don't have a lot of medium pieces of wood, you will have to use more small sticks to keep the fire hot until the larger pieces of wood start burning.

Large pieces of wood

Since you are making a fire in a fire pit, you won't need very large pieces of wood. You will, however, want to collect some pieces of wood that are larger than your medium wood. These will take longer to start burning, but they will, in turn, burn longer.

Create a tepee

To stack your wood properly for your fire pit, you should create a tepee like structure. The tepee should have all of the different element that will burn in the fire incorporated into it. This will require a layered approach. The layers will be stacked so that you will get optimal performance when starting your fire. It will also allow you to add elements quickly when a layer needs more material.

If you are going to put rocks or pebbles in your fire pit, you should put them before stacking your wood.

Start with kindling

At the base of your tepee you should put a small pile of kindling. This should be made of wood shavings, dried leaves, pine needles, and twigs. Be sure to not pack these elements tightly. Air should be allowed to flow under and in between all of the elements. Air is critical to keeping your fire burning.

Stack small sticks

Once you have your pile of kindling in place, build a tepee of small sticks above the kindling. The sticks should be long enough to create a tepee high enough to allow you to get more kindling material under it. Don't over due this step. You just need a few sticks at this point. Once the fire starts to burn, you can add more.

Stack medium pieces

Next, build a tepee of medium pieces of wood over your tepee of small sticks. This only needs to be three to four pieces of wood. Make sure you leave ample room under and between this layer so you can add more kindling and small pieces of wood to the base of the fire.

Stack large pieces

Putting larger pieces of wood above medium pieces is a personal preference. Some people like to stack larger pieces of wood above the other wood before they start the fire. My preference is to add the larger pieces after the fire is burning well with medium pieces of wood.

If you want to stack your large pieces of wood before starting your fire, the steps are easy. Just create a tepee of your larger wood above your medium wood tepee. Just like the other tepee layers, make sure air can pass through and you can get enough of the other materials onto the base of the fire.

Lighting the fire

Once all of your materials are stacked properly, you can light your fire. There are different techniques you can use to start your fire. I like to light a starter piece of wood or a handful of pine needles. The starter pieces of wood should be dry. The dryer it is, the faster it will light.

If you choose to use a hand full of pine needles, be sure to hold them so that your hand is not close to the part you are lighting. Also, you have to be quick with this method; especially if the pine needles are very dry. The pine needles can burn very fast.

Once your starter stick or pine needles are burning, hold the fire to the kindling at the base of your wood stack. Don't press it in to much to the kindling or you may put the fire out on your stick. You have to allow air to flow around the fire as it is lighting the kindling.

After the kindling starts to burn, your small sticks should begin to catch fire. Sometimes the small sticks don't catch right away. In this case, you should add a little more kindling below the small sticks to keep the fire going.

After your small sticks catch fire, your medium sticks should begin to ignite. If they are not burning well and it looks like your small sticks are going to burn up, then you should add some more small sticks below your medium tepee stack.

If you made a stack of larger wood above your medium stack, then the larger pieces will start to burn because of all the heat given off by the medium wood. Place more medium wood under the larger pieces to aid them in catching fire if they seem to be lagging.

If you didn't make a stack of larger pieces of wood, you should wait to add any until the medium pieces are burning strong. Adding larger pieces without having an initial stack of large pieces can be a little tricky. If the fire isn't that big, you can construct a tepee of larger pieces over it. But if the flames are high and the fire is too hot, you will have to lay the larger pieces into the fire.

Laying larger pieces into the fire isn't hard. You need to be careful how you lay them. Be gentle when placing them on top of the fire. If you are too aggressive, you will disrupt the fire. Also, try to lay the larger pieces in a way that allows air to pass under them. This will help them catch faster.

You have read about air flow and its importance to starting a fire several times in this post. Oxygen is vitally important for starting and keeping a fire burning. If you impede the flow of oxygen to your fire, it will have trouble burning and may ultimately go out.

Stack wood for your fire pit a few times and you will be a pro. It just takes a little preparation to get things right. Follow a layered approach. Be sure that oxygen can freely flow through your fire. Your fire pit firewood stacks will be burning nicely in your yard.