Backyard Fire Pit Fun: The Art of the Start Can Be Simple

By Jennifer Thibodeau
on August 27, 2016

Guest blogger: Ted Hebert, Fire Pit Aficionado

We've all been there. The sun is sinking low, the guests are just finishing their burgers and hot dogs, and everyone is ready for a nice glowing fire. Backyard fire pit aficionados, and most Scouts, know the basics to lighting a fire: dry tinder, small, dry kindling, and a match. But, alas, you may be none of these, and somewhat new to the backyard fire pit game. And, it was raining last night and there’s nothing dry around, and the last newspaper in the house hasn’t been seen since the iPad took over. Panic sets in, as you scurry around for paper towels and a match (DON’T DO IT). ARRGG! You just want to get some logs that are left over from last winter’s wood pile going to keep your guests happy and the night fun.

There is a simple yet somewhat non-traditional way to get a fire in your pit going quickly, and safely using wood pellets and fire gel. Easily purchased for less $20 total from any local hardware store, wood pellets (come in 40lb. bags) are normally used in either an indoor wood pellet stove, or in outdoor wood pellet grills. An easy and environmentally-conscious source of heat, wood pellets (basically compressed sawdust) have been around for commonplace use since the 1970's, when oil and gas prices went sky-high.

The other component in the easy-fire-pit-lighting scenario is fire gel. Normally used to light indoor pellet stoves, and comprised of mostly of alcohol in gel form, fire gel is safe (won’t spark or flare up), non-toxic, and smokeless, making it perfect for most backyard fire pit applications.

Light My Fire

Place two small pieces of split wood four to six inches apart, then place a handful or two of wood pellets in between them. Squirt fire gel on top of the pellets in either a circular or squiggle pattern around the outside-to-inside of the pellet pile. Begin to stack crossways or tepee style other pieces of wood, approximately two layers, making sure the wood is centered over the pellet and gel pile but not smothering it. Using a stick lighter or long match, light the pellet gel pile from the bottom, back up and watch as your fire pit slowly and safely ignites.

The pellet-gel method is not traditional and will not win you a merit badge, but your friends and neighbors won’t care as the fire burns brightly into the night. And don’t be surprised if you see others copying your “new trick,” as it is truly the safest and quickest method for anybody to light a backyard fire pit.

Happy pitting!

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Fire Pit Safety Tips

By Jennifer Thibodeau
on August 15, 2016


Fire pits are supposed to be fun - we get it. However, practicing a bit of caution while enjoying said fun is an absolute must.

We recently came across an article in Mother Earth News written by a former wildland firefighter (so the girl's got some experience) and she has lots of wise advice, to be sure. For instance, fire pit positioning is key to safety; prep work is involved; and you should never burn paper in your pit. Who knew?

Outdoor Fire Pit Safety Tips

Read more tips and advice from Idaho firefighter, Jennifer Tuohy here > 

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