How to Build a Fire

How to Build a Fire
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How to Build a Fire

Wood stove cooking in Ghana

Learn fire building techniques using tinder, kindling and firewood to build a log cabin fire construction while learning about the top 10 countries in Africa who use the most wood to fuel their everyday lives.

Cooking with wood in Niger Africa

In the year 2018, more than 69 percent of Africa below the Saharan desert still has no access to electricity. In the rural areas of Africa, the number of people without access to electricity rises to more than 85 percent. In other words, that is over 600 million people in the 49 countries of sub-Saharan Africa lacking access to electricity. To put 600 million people into perspective, the United States has a total population of 314 million people. 

Throughout Africa, women and girls walk for hours a day in the hope of finding a few branches or roots to use as firewood; to avoid the midday sun, many leave their homes before sunrise. Almost all African countries still rely on wood to meet basic energy needs; in fact, over 80 percent of the energy supply in African countries comes from wood. In these countries, wood fuels not only are vital to the nutrition of rural and urban households, but also are also often essential in food processing industries for baking, brewing, and smoking, curing and electricity production.

Fuel wood accounts for about 90 percent of the total wood consumption in Africa and 81 percent of African households use solid fuels while 70 percent depend on them as their primary energy source for cooking. Nearly 60 percent of urban dwellers also use woody biomass as an energy source for cooking.

Before beginning to build your log cabin fire or any other fire be sure to have water available nearby and a shovel to throw dirt on the fire if it gets out of hand.

Collecting wood for a fire in Nigeria

Before you start to build a fire, gather the following fuelwood materials in separate piles


This is dry, easily flammable material that needs only a few sparks to be ignited. You can gather thin, fibrous, plant material to be used as tinder. Fine steel wool is also a type of tinder. Even though tinder can catch fire easily, it cannot sustain it.


Kindling is slightly bulkier organic material that can be used to feed the fire you start with the tinder. Dry wood chips, thin twigs and dry grass stalks make good kindling.


Larger twigs and logs take longer to reach their kindling point, but once ignited; they sustain the fire longer, too.

How to build a fire

There are numerous methods for building a fire, each of which has advantages. Log Cabin is the easiest fire building method since damp logs, slightly green wood and harder-to-ignite hardwoods dry in place with the Log Cabin fire building method.

1. Place inch-thick pieces of fuel wood on either side of your tinder pile, parallel to each other.

2. The next layer of fuel wood should be slightly thinner (thumb-thick), placed across the bottom two to form a square base.

3. Starting with the third layer, place thin, well-spaced pieces of kindling flat across the center. Starting here leaves space to insert your match.

4. Continue with this overlay pattern until you have made a square structure about seven levels tall.

Camels transporting firewood in Morocco

The log cabin fire method for building is one of the most popular ways to build a fire because it is versatile and because of the open and airy style, it radiates heat quickly, and is great for cooking. Except the five North African countries and South Africa, all African countries still depend heavily on wood to meet basic energy needs. 

Wood fuel use is therefore a major local and global environmental issue in Africa. In 2018, the 10 countries who contributed around two thirds of total African wood consumption to meet 3 percent to 20 percent of the state’s energy needs are Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Sudan, Mozambique and Cote d'Ivoire.

ℋow to Build a Fire ♨

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