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Kindling 101: Choosing the Right Wood for Quick and Efficient Lighting

Kindling 101: Choosing the Right Wood for Quick and Efficient Lighting

Rhodri Evans |

Introduction to Kindling

Kindling, a term as cosy as a crackling hearth, refers to the small pieces of wood used to start a fire. But, did you know that not all kindling is created equal? The difference between a roaring fire and a fizzle can often be traced back to the choice of wood. Understanding the characteristics of different types of wood can help you select the perfect kindling for your fire.

Choosing the right kindling is important for several reasons. It’s the backbone of a well-lit fire, allowing it to ignite quickly, burn efficiently and transition smoothly to larger pieces of wood. It's like the warm-up act for the main performer; without it, the performance just won't be the same.

Types of Wood for Kindling


Softwoods, as the name suggests, come from less dense trees such as pine, cedar, and spruce. They’re lighter, often containing resin which ignites quickly and burns brightly, making them ideal for kindling. However, they burn out quickly, so you'll need a fair amount to establish a solid fire base.

When sourcing softwood kindling, look for seasoned wood, which is wood that has been dried for at least six months. Softwood kindling should also be finely split to ensure quick ignition. You can browse our collection of kiln-dried wood for some top-notch softwood options.


Hardwoods, such as oak, maple, and birch, are denser and heavier than softwoods. They take longer to ignite, but once they do, they burn slowly and steadily, providing a long-lasting heat source.

Hardwood kindling should ideally be sourced from seasoned wood as well, ensuring that it's dry and will ignite more easily. When preparing hardwood kindling, make sure to split it into small enough pieces to catch fire easily. Our hardwood ash logs collection could be a great starting point for sourcing hardwood kindling.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Kindling Wood


The dryness of your kindling is paramount to a successful fire. Wet or damp wood is difficult to ignite and creates excessive smoke. Therefore, it's crucial to keep your kindling in a dry, ventilated area, away from direct contact with the ground. When in doubt, use a moisture meter to ensure your wood is dry enough.

Size and Shape

Size matters when it comes to kindling. Smaller, thinner pieces catch fire more easily than larger chunks. Ideally, your kindling should be a mix of sizes, with the smallest pieces no thicker than a pencil.

In terms of shape, straight pieces are easier to stack, but irregular shapes can create air pockets that help the fire breathe. A mix of straight and irregularly shaped pieces is often the best approach.

Resin Content

Resin content can significantly impact how kindling burns. Resin-rich kindling, like pine and cedar, burns hot and fast, which can be helpful for getting a fire started. However, high-resin wood can also lead to creosote build-up in chimneys, a substance that can ignite and cause chimney fires. Use resin-rich kindling sparingly and always ensure your chimney is regularly cleaned.


As environmentally conscious individuals, it's important to consider sustainability when choosing your kindling. Sustainable wood options like our sustainable wood help protect forests and support ecosystems. Remember, the choices we make today have a lasting impact on the health of our planet.

Kindling Alternatives

Commercial Fire Starters

Commercial fire starters, like our range of firelighters and kindling offer a convenient alternative to traditional kindling. These products are designed to ignite quickly and sustain a flame long enough to establish a fire. However, always be aware of the materials used in the fire starter – opt for natural, non-toxic options when possible.

Natural Kindling Alternatives

If you're feeling adventurous or want to go down the eco-friendly route, natural kindling alternatives are a great choice. Materials like dried twigs, leaves, pine cones, and bark can be effective fire starters. However, these should be used only for outdoor fires as they can produce high levels of smoke and potentially dangerous sparks.

Proper Kindling Techniques

Layering Method

The layering method starts with a layer of small, dry twigs or wood shavings, followed by a layer of slightly larger kindling, and topped with your main fuel wood. The aim is to create a ‘ladder’ for the fire to climb. Remember, fire likes to climb upwards; think of it as its own natural ascent to greatness.

Teepee Method

The teepee method involves arranging your kindling in a teepee shape around your tinder (small, easily ignitable material). Once lit, the fire spreads upwards and outwards, catching larger pieces of kindling. This is a great method for outdoor fires or fire pits, as it allows the fire to spread more freely.

Other Kindling Techniques

Other techniques include the log cabin and lean-to methods, each with their own strengths. The log cabin method, for example, offers a stable structure that burns slowly and evenly, while the lean-to method provides a windbreak for your fire.

Choosing the right kindling technique depends on your specific fire needs. For example, a log cabin build might be ideal for a long, tranquil evening by the fireside, while the teepee method might be best for a quick, high-heat fire for outdoor cooking.


In conclusion, choosing the right kindling is like selecting the right ingredients for a recipe. It requires a little knowledge, a dash of experience, and a generous pinch of common sense. Whether you opt for softwood, hardwood, or even some natural alternatives, remember that dry, well-prepared kindling is the secret to a quick, efficient, and satisfying fire.

And remember, like any skill, fire-building takes practice. So don't be disheartened if your first few attempts are more smoke than flame. With a bit of perseverance and the right kindling, you'll soon be a master of the hearth. Happy burning!