Whether burning wood for a campfire, barbecue or in a wood stove, starting a wood fire is not as hard as some people make it. Man has been starting wood fires to cook and provide warmth since the beginning of time. Here are three standard ways that work:

* The Tepee method: best for campfires or large grills
* Parallel Logs method: best for grills, fireplace or wood stoves
* Top Down method: best for wood stoves or tight spaces with little access

The Teepee method is great for the campfire or basic charcoal grill. Start with tinder made of paper, dry leaves, or sticks no bigger than a pencil lead. Stack them where you want your fire. You should use a good amount of tinder since it burns fast, use twice as much as you can hold together with two hands. If in doubt, double it. Next find kindling, dry sticks or twigs no bigger than your thumb and as long as your forearm. You will need an armful. Stand the kindling with the tops leaning together and the bottom set around the tinder. Last you need fuel as in wood logs. They should be about as thick as your wrist, and you will need at least five or six. Stack these in the same way around the kindling with the tops together. Once the tepee structure is solid, slide a lit match into the bottom to ignite the tinder in two or three places until it catches fire. Blow gently on the tinder as it lights the kindling and then the fuel.

The Parallel Log method uses the same three ingredients, tinder, kindling and fuel logs, but a different structure. In this method we add two large parallel logs to frame the fire. The parallel logs should be at least twice the size of your wrist and set parallel to each other, three to four inches apart. Take the tinder and pile it together between the logs. Stack the kindling on top of the tinder. Last, take the fuel logs and place them across the parallel logs so the parallel logs hold the weight of the fuel logs. Now slide a lit match into the tinder at both ends and blow gently.

Last is the Top Down method that gets its name because you light it from the top and the fire works it’s way down through the fuel. For this method you will need more tinder and kindling than the other methods. Start by placing the larger fuel logs side by side to create a base. Lay the kindling across the top cross-ways so the kindling doesn’t fall in between the larger logs. Now stack the tinder cross-ways over the kindling. Once you have the stuff stacked light it with a match.

The most common reasons fires fail to stay lit is not enough tinder, followed by not enough kindling. So, when you’re first starting out burning wood don’t be afraid to use what you might think is too much, just keep it within reason and always have a fire extinguisher nearby. The friendly firewood folks at Wisconsin Firewood have clean dry firewood for you to get started on your outdoor adventure. We sell U.S.D.A. Certified Kiln Dried Oak Mix Firewood. Now, after reading this article, you have three easy fire-starting methods that have stood the test of time. Good Luck!

Photo by Stephen Kruso from Flickr using Creative Commons license.