how to light a fire pit: How To Light A Fire Pit In 3 Primitive Ways

They say humankind was able to start using and controlling fire about 600,000 years ago. The primitive fire they built with just what the Mother Nature provided gave them warmth, protection, a way of preparing food and helped them with new inventions. But over time, such an essential skill got lost with the dawn of lighters and matchsticks.

Now, you might ask why we’d want to light a fire using just sticks and stones like the cavemen? We have three strong reasons for that: It’s fun, It’s manly, It might come in handy during survival situations. Also, it just feels awkward to know that despite all of our inventions and intelligence, we can’t do what our ancestors could.

Lighting up a fire is a core survival skill and if you know how to do it, all you need to do is gather the right materials and you’ll have a fire pit blazing right in front of you. What if the moisture in the air or that shipwreck and your long swim to the island turned your matchsticks into just a limp piece of wood? It’s better to be prepared no matter how unlikely that scenario might seem.

How to Light a Fire Pit: The Caveman Techniques

In ancient times, the first humans had to survive by hunting and fire pit lighting to cook food and eat for survival. So how exactly did they manage to use raw materials and create fiery sparks? Simple – they used their sticks and a pair of stones to cause some friction.

Method 1: Sticks and Logs

The first technique we’re going to talk about is how to light a fire pit using a stick and a piece of wood. Among various types of fire pits, this method is effective for wood burning fire pits only. The first thing you’re going to need is a piece of dry stick. Just any stray tree-branch would do. Take it, strip it, and rub it against a hard surface to sharpen the edge. Next, get yourself a piece of wood. Once you have that, lay it flat on the ground and get on top of it to give it more stability.

Make a small depression on one end of the log and place the stick into that hole. With your hands, hold onto the shaft of the wood and start rubbing hard and screw it into the hole. Make sure the piece of wood is dry when starting to screw. Keep going until smoke starts to come out of the hole. Once you’ve found that it had heated up enough and see a good amount of residual ash coming out from the tip, you’ll be ready to light it up.

Make sure that you have some kindling ready nearby. Good kindling materials include crushed up dry leaves, cobwebs, dried up grass, and tree barks. Just gather all of those materials and you’d have your kindling ready.

Now, place the kindling onto the hole, hold onto the piece of wood and turn it over. Let the heated material seep into the bushy kindling. Tap it to ensure that all of the material has entered the bush and pull the wood piece off. Now it’s time to blow. Keep blowing into the kindling till it lights up. Once the kindling lights up, the hard part is over.

Now, you’re going to have to light up some tinder (thin pieces of wood/branches) with the burning kindling. Once that’s done, it’s just a matter of shoving the tinder into the fire pit to light it up. And by now you know how to light a fire pit.

Method 2: Sticks and Stones

Just like the method mentioned above, we’re going to make good use of friction to create a heated residue, use it to light up tinder and subsequently, your fire pit. If you’re an adventure enthusiast, you will enjoy making DIY fire pits and lighting it up using stick and stones. When you’ll see the first smoke coming out, the sheer joy of achievement will leave you dancing in excitement.

  • First of all, ensure that you have the materials ready: Tinders balled into a bushy conglomeration, firewood placed amongst a stone enclosure for safety, and get yourself a wood and a flat piece of stone.
  • Lay the wood on the ground and mount it to prevent it from moving.
  • Place the long piece of stone onto the wood with one hand and press your other hand over it for a better grip.
  • Now start pushing it forward and backward.
  • Keep pumping it at an increasing pace until you reach your limit and then maintain the rhythm. Choose a rhythm that will help you keep stroking the wood for a long time without getting tired.
  • You have to try to create as much friction and heat on the wood as possible for the best results.
  • Finally, when you finish, you’ll end up with some residue as before.

After that, it’s just a simple method as before: Place the wood onto the bush, tap it to get the residue inside, blow into the bush, light up the tinder and shove it into the fire pit.

Method 3: A Pair of Stones

Although this method is a bit more difficult and requires a little more energy for banging the stones together, it still is a viable option. For this method, you need to prepare a bush of tinder. Swipe the tinder to the right to heat it up later and keep your kindling on the left (or the other way around if you don’t like it). But for this, you’d also need a small nub of dry material that you can rub to produce heat. And with these in hands, you’re going to have to get yourself a pair of stones and get ready to learn how to light a fire pit with your stones.

Place the small nub onto a stone and start banging the stones next to the nub. Keep banging until the nub becomes hotter and it starts smoking. If the banging isn’t creating any sparks, the stones’ surfaces aren’t potent enough to give the output you desire. In such cases, you’re going to have to replace the stones. If everything is set, keep banging till the nub gets off with a smoke.

As always, place the nub into the bush, blow on the nub in the bush and light the kindling up. Then shove the kindling into the tinder and slide the tinders into the fire pit.

Finishing it Up

When lighting a fire in these ways, it is important to remember that you use only hardwood for this purpose. A softwood would not be able to create enough friction and would be limp to be of any use. Also, avoid using any branch or a part of a rubber tree because you won’t get any results.

So, to sum it all up. You have learned 3 methods to light up a fire pit in a primitive way:

  1. With a Stick and a Wood: Screw it into the hole, tap it into the bush, blow it and shove it into the tinder.
  2. With Stones and a Wood: Rub the stone against the wood – Keep pistoning forward and backward till it heats up. Place the wood into the bush and tap it, blow it and shove it.
  3. With A Pair of Stones: Bang the stones against a wooden nub, place it into the bush. Blow into the nub among the bush and shove the kindling into the tinder.

Just remember the rhythms: Screw it, Tap it, Blow it and Shove it or alternatively, you can Bang it and Rub it. Just use this mnemonic to engrave these necessary survival techniques in your mind. We hope that we’ve been able to enlighten you with our tips on fire-starting and helped you with your endeavors in one way or another.


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