The Essentials of a Wood Fire: Tinder, Kindling, Fuel

The Essentials of a Wood Fire: Tinder, Kindling, Fuel

When building the most efficient wood burning fire, make sure to use the three essential elements:

  1. Tinder
  2. Kindling
  3. Fuel = Wood

1. Tinder

Simply said, tinder is what is used to start a fire. It is the first step when building a good wood burning fire. Tinder is an easily combustible material that’s primary purpose is to ignite kindling. It consists of small shavings or shreds of material that will burn hot quickly.

Tinder found in nature:

  • Dry grass
  • Leaves
  • Shaved bark
  • Dandelion head (clock)
  • Birch bark
  • Cattail fluff
  • Cattail leaves dry
  • Dry pine needles
  • Fat Lighter or Fat wood
  • Tinder fungus
  • Punk wood
  • Poplar Cotton

A material is considered good tinder when it is:

  • Around the size of pencil led
  • No shorter than an outstretched hand
  • Enough to fit within cupped hands

2. Kindling

Kindling is also used to start a fire, but it is larger than tinder. It’s main job is to burn wood logs and keep the fire going after it is started. Don’t waste your time starting a fire with tinder and only to watch it to go out by not using kindling.

Kindling found in nature:

  • Cedar bark
  • Small twigs (must be very dry, not recently cut)
  • Fatwood

A material is considered good tinder when it is:

  • No thicker than a thumb
  • As long as elbow to fingertips
  • Enough for a generous arm load

It is a good idea to keep a supply of kindling even after the fire is well underway. It can be added throughout a fire’s burning if/when flames start to wain.

3. Fuel = Wood

Dried out wood is the best wood for burning. Make sure that the wood is not “green wood” (aka freshly chopped wood). Green wood takes longer to get started and tends to hiss and produce excessive smoke due to moisture in the wood. To ensure your firewood is completely dried out, use kiln dried firewood, or firewood from a dead tree, never a live tree.

Wood will be a good fuel source when it is:

  • At minimum as thick as a wrist
  • As long as an arm
  • Around knee high when stacked

Follow these tips to find/gather these three essential elements for the best wood burning fire and sit back and enjoy a roaring fire tonight! If you are not interested in foraging through the forest for tinder, kindling, and fuel, make sure to get the best materials. Order kiln dried firewood and prepared kindling from the experts.

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