Frugal Fire Building For Backyard Fires

How to build a fire for your backyard enjoyment
As I'm catching up reading my RSS feeds on Netvibes, DH is out splitting some Oak for our fire wood pile. A cold front moved through yesterday bringing temps down near sixty, which is a nice temp for a fire. Having a fire pit, chiminea or fireplace is a great, frugal way to enjoy some time with friends, or enjoy time outside when its nice. Anyone can safely have a fire in your backyard if you follow some simple procedures.

1. Location
Select a place for your fire that is safely distant from overhanging trees, at least ten feet away from your home or any other building, and away from electric, cable or telephone lines overhead.

2. Prepare Your Site
If you are building a fire in a fire pit or chiminea, be sure the bed of the container is dry. If you have wet ashes on the bottom they will heat up and steam and make any fire smokey. If you have dry ashes, leave them in the bed to help your fire stabilize and burn more clean.

3. Gather Materials
We always build our fire in layers, and in a Teepee shape. Gather newspaper, dry leaves, dry tinder and sticks, small wood logs and then larger firewood. If you plan to have a fire for four or more hours, you'll need at least a dozen pieces of firewood. If you have fires regularly, you'll want to keep a container of dry leaves, a container of dry sticks, twigs and branches, and a container of small wood splits. Your firewood should be moved out of the elements several days prior to burning so you are sure it is completely dry.

4. Build Your Fire
We always build TeePee shape fires with plenty of air space between the layers and the wood. Air is important to help the flames reach higher for more wood to burn. It's a good way to use up those extra Sunday newspapers as a bed to start your fire, and then scavenge around the yard for some dry leaves, tinder sticks and small branches for a layer that will start easily beneath your larger logs.

5. Feed Your Fire
Your fire will burn best if you leave it alone. Light the paper on the bottom from a few different areas and let it reach up to burn the next layer above it. It will be smoky at first, but within 5 minutes or when the newspaper is burned up, you should have a smoke free fire if your materials were sufficiently dry. If your fire goes out right away, get something stiff like cardboard and "fan" the fire to get the embers to relight. If that doesn't work, get some more dry tinder and just put a couple on a time. Your teepee will collapse as it burns, so you can gently add another log to perpendicular to the layer of logs currently burning. Your criss cross pattern will help the air flow through the fire and keep it burning.

6. When Your Fire Is Over
When its about an hour before you want to end your fire, start winding down on the size of the wood you are adding. We usually wind down our fires by putting on only bark scraps (from splitting wood) on the fire. Bark will be smokey, but burns quickly and gives flames and heat. If you have a nice bed of embers you can easily burn bark. You may even want to strip your firewood  before you burn it so you can save the bark for the end of the fire. If you have a reliable fire pit, you do not need to douse your finished fire with water. Just let it burn out naturally. If you have a screen cover, you should cover it at the end of the evening.

7. Safety
Don't use any combustible fluids like lighter fluid or gasoline to fuel your fire, that is extremely dangerous. Don't play with the fire by poking sticks around too much or letting children play with the fire. Be aware of where your nearest water source is, and have a bucket or container located so you could stop any wayward flames. Do not leave your fire unattended or out of your sight.

@frugalapolis

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