This winter has been brutally cold and I’ve made fires almost every night. I have built fires wrong for years. There is a better way to build a fire and have it burn longer and require less fussing. The upside down fire. Sid O’Neill enlightened me to the benefits of this fire-construction method and my life is greatly improved because of it.
Before learning about the upside down fire, I was putting the small kindling and paper on the bottom, then piling larger sticks and small logs on top of them. Then laying the largest wood on the top. Instead, I’ve built the fire upside down.
Start with the large logs on the bottom. Pack them in and make a layer of large wood without gaps between the logs. Then lay smaller on top of them. Finally, put the smaller sticks, kindling and some paper or fire starter on the very top. Then light the fire from the top instead of the bottom.
This allows the small bits to catch and burn first, then as they burn and the heat builds, the larger logs heat up and start to burn. The fire will burn for a long time without the need for any more work.
You must be patient because the fire will take longer to really get going. It can take 15-20 minutes before the embers get hot enough to ignite your larger logs but once they get going, sit back and enjoy the heat.
I won’t build a fire any other way. I like the setting it up, lighting it, then enjoying hours of heat. It’s been a much-appreciated addition to my winter as I go through less wood with each fire and the fire burns down to almost nothing if I let it go long enough.
The upside down fire is also excellent for camping and wood stoves. Tim Ferriss also wrote about building an upside down fire and its benefits.