Fireside Safety Basics

Building an outdoor fire

Having a fire pit is fun! Having to call the fire department is not fun. Below are a few tips for creating the perfect bonfire, as well as some fireside safety suggestions for your next gathering.

Tips for Building the Perfect Fire

  • Consider Elevating Your Fire - The perfect fire needs perfect airflow. Most people make the mistake of building their fires directly upon the ashes of their previous fire. However, if you want to maximize your fireside experience, you should consider investing in an outdoor fire pit that includes an elevated grate for your logs. A highly effective way to upgrade an existing fire pit is to add a heavy duty fire pit grate to your fireside setup. These grates will elevate your logs off of the ground, thereby allowing more oxygen to feed your fire from underneath.
  • Use a Fire Starter - Sure, you can use newspaper and kindling to start your fire. But gathering kindling can be a chore, and newspaper ink emits toxic chemicals when burned. By contrast, non-toxic fire starters are a foolproof way to get your fire up and running in minutes. Our Sure-Fire™ Starters are the best easy fire starters on the market, and are guaranteed to light, even under tough conditions (like wind and rain). Sure-Fire™ Starters produce an 8-10 inch flame for  lit for up to 10-15 minutes, and will take all of the hassle out of fire starting. 
  • Feed the fire slowly. Once you have a flame, start small. Use small, dry pieces of wood at first and work your way up to the big logs.
  • Use dry, dead wood. Use wood that is completely dry and completely dead. Wood that has been recently chopped from a tree (also called green wood) has a lot of water in it and will produce a lot of unpleasant smoke.
  • Have lots of wood. Wood burns more quickly than you might think. You don't want to be in the middle of a cup of hot chocolate only to run out of wood. Have twice as much wood as you think you'll need. If you don't use it all, then you'll at least have it available for your next fire.

Tips for Enjoying the Perfect Fire

Now that you have your fire, it's time to enjoy it! 

  • Wear The Right Clothing - When working around the fire, wear appropriate clothing for the occasion. Materials like polyester are highly flammable, and are not recommended. Flowy clothing, such dresses and skirts, can also be dangerous. If you live in a climate where bugs are prevalent, you may want to consider wearing long pants and a long sleeved shirt.
  • Use A Fire Poker - One of the best ways to avoid getting burned is to invest in a fire pit poker. Fire pokers allow you to stay a safe distance from the fire as you rearrange your logs. More advanced pokers, such as the Walden Stoker-Poker™ feature a one way air valve. This air valve allows you to concentrate oxygen on a specific part of your fire’s embers, helping you to reignite your dying flame, but without having to bend over your fire and inhale harsh smoke.
  • Keep You Fire Size Appropriate - Use logs that fit in your fire pit or designated fire area, and don't let the fire get too big for the area you're using. Cinders can travel a surprising amount of distance. Also be wary of lighting large fires beneath overhanging and close to houses or other structures.
  • Shield Your Fire - Pay attention to the direction the wind is blowing and try to shield the fire from the wind. You can do this by sitting on one side of the fire (this will also keep the smoke out of your eyes) or building up your wood pile on the side the wind is blowing from.
  • Have an extinguisher nearby - Whether it's an actual fire extinguisher, bucket of sand or water, running hose, or a fire pit snuffer lid, be sure to have something in the vicinity of your fire that will allow you to put it out quickly and effectively. At Walden, we believe that snuffer lids are the safest and easiest way to put out a fire, because they don’t produce a billow of smoke like what happens when you dump water on a fire. Likewise, they prevent any embers from escaping your pit once you have gone inside for the evening.

Of course, the most important tip of all is to have fun! We hope that you continue to enjoy your fireside experiences with friends and family for years to come!

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