How to start a fire – a guide for beginners

Zippo lighters are perfect for lighting fires in stoves

For some people, starting a fire doesn’t come easily – and why should it? It is an arguably archaic skill that is becoming gradually lost. Yet it is a good skill to have, and for many, something you’ll never forget.

The method we’re going to look at in this blog post is a very simple way of starting a fire. It is a method that applies to any fire-starting situation. The hardcore will argue that the Scandinavian method, or some obscure bush craft fashion is the only way one can enjoy a fire, and perhaps they are, but you need to learn to walk before you can run.

The basic concept of fire is to start small and grow it, and to keep it supplied with oxygen and fuel. Believe it or not, I have seen people put a lit match to a 30cm log and winder why it didn’t burst into flames. You need:

Matches or a lighter

Calfire Long Handle Safety Matches
Calfire Long Handle Safety Matches


Stacks of newspaper
Newspaper works fine


Eva UK Kindling Wood - 2.5KG Bag
Eva UK Kindling Wood – 2.5KG Bag

Seasoned logs

Kiln Dried Hardwood Ash Logs - 0.5m Crate
Kiln Dried Hardwood Ash Logs – 0.5m Crate

If you are using a stove, make sure all of the air controls are open – your fledgling fire will need as much oxygen as it can get. For most people, tinder consists of newspaper, which is freely available and very flammable. If you choose to use this, screw individual pages up into tight balls (again, some prefer rolls, knots and all manner of strange shapes, but scrunched up newspaper works fine.

The same concept applies with firelighters, but you will only need one. Just add small pieces of kindling once the fire has taken hold – the firelighter will stay alight for a sufficient amount of time.

Fill the bottom of your stove with your little balls of scrunched up paper and lay your kindling on top of it. Make sure the pieces are touching, as this will help the fire to spread.

Light the tinder in various places and wait for the fire to spread to the kindling. Once it has taken hold, gradually add larger and larger pieces. A little tip here is to not add any more fuel until the flames are taller than the fuel. If you can’t see the flames, any added fuel with simply smother it and you’ll have a smouldering mess. Be sure to not lay your fuel too close together as your fire needs access to oxygen to burn.

Once you have added your larger logs, close the air controls until the fire is burning smoothly – too much oxygen in the firebox at this point will cause it to burn furiously and quickly, meaning you will over-fire your stove and use a lot of fuel.

Sit back and enjoy – you’ve created fire and it is very hard to kill it at this point.

How do you start a fire? Let us know in the comments below!

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