I love making fires in the fireplace, and I thought I was pretty good at it… until I discovered the upside down fire (a.k.a the top-down fire). It completely changed the way I made my fires forever!
Generally speaking whether you’ve actually made a fire or not, you probably have a general idea about how making a fire is done.
Conventional wisdom tells us that you make a fire by first putting down some kindling, smaller combustibles and put the larger pieces of wood on top leave space for the fire to breath.
Everyone I’ve ever asked has those basic steps in mind and there are of course a million variations of what kindling to use, how to position the logs for the best burn, etc.
Well believe it or not, the basic understanding of how to start a fire is literally the opposite of how you should really start a fire. I know it sounds crazy and I didn’t believe it until I tried for myself – and no one I’ve told really believed it until they tried it for themselves.
The top down fire burns hotter, more efficiently (less ashes), looks nicer (since the flames are unobstructed) and needs no fiddling. It’s surprising that this isn’t how everyone makes fires, since it’s better in every way.
So here are the steps to making an upside down fire, the correct way to make a fire.
The Correct Way to Start A Fire – The Upside Down Fire
The correct way to start a fire is basically the exact opposite of what you would think. You start with the large logs on the bottom, followed by the medium sized logs, then the kindle on the very top.
You then light the kindle that is on the top of the fire, I know it’s hard to believe, but that is how starting a fire the right way is done.
The secret to making a fire this way, is that the kindling will burn producing ashes which will fall on the next level of fuel. Once there are enough ashes on the lower levels of fuel they will start to burn. The fire burns much hotter because you get larger unobstructed flames within minutes of starting the fire.
If you follow the directions below correctly you’ll have a fire that burns hotter, produces less ashes, looks nicer and best of all will burn for hours without having to touch it at all.
Upside Down Fire Details
Step 1 – The Larger Logs First
You start by putting the large logs first side by side, try to get them as tight together as possible. The goal here is to not leave a space for the ashes to fall. The tighter the bottom logs are together the longer and better your fire will burn.
Step 2 – The Medium Sized Wood
Here you put the logs that are a bit smaller or burn easier. The idea is the easier it is to burn, the higher on the pile it goes.
Step 3 – The Kindling
Finally the stuff that is easiest to burn goes on the very top. If you’re using one of those duraflame logs or brickettes put it where the kindling would go. Remember the logic is to keep the harder to burn stuff on the bottom and the easiest things to burn on the very top.
Starting The Upside Down Fire
To light an upside down fire, you would ignite the fuel that you placed on top – the stuff that is easiest to burn.
Remember the way this works is, as the easy stuff burns it will create ashes which will start to pile up on the next easiest thing to burn and once there’s enough ashes, that level will ignite.
Then that process will keep repeating on the next hardest thing to burn. The secret to this whole method is to have the ashes resting on the next level generating enough heat to ignite that level.
Maintaining Your Upside Down Fire
Being an experienced traditional fire starter, I used to constantly play with the logs to get them to burn. As soon as I’d see the flames reduce in size I’d start fiddling with the fire to get it roaring again. It used to be a very high maintenance chore, which I personally didn’t mind doing since I love fires so much.
With the upside down fire it’s once again the opposite thing, you do not touch it. Leave it alone!
At first it is VERY tempting to go poking and prodding to get the fire going. But trust me, once you light it you leave the fire alone. It’ll do it’s thing and usually takes about 15 – 20 minutes for it to start looking like its working.
Remember let it do it’s thing and resist the temptation to play with the fire to get it to burn.
Once the fire is done you’ll notice that there are a lot less ashes produced. My assumption is that the fire burns the wood more thoroughly since the ashes end up sitting on more fuel so they keep burning. You’ll also notice that once the fire has successfully found it’s groove it will be much warmer that any traditional fire you’ve ever done before.
I hope this has helped you find an easy and more effective way to make a fire. Remember to spread the word once you’ve been converted to upside down fires! 🙂
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