How to Start a Wood Fire with Vegetable Oil, Paper, and Matches
Wood Fire Started with Newspaper Soaked in Vegetable Oil
How to Start a Fire with Wood, Vegetable Oil, Paper, and Matches
If you find yourself without a propane tank, lighter fluid, kindling, or a fire starter on hand, you can easily start a wood fire with vegetable oil and paper as your starter. This is how I light the oak wood I burn in my barbecue and fireplace. As always when dealing with fire, use common sense and be careful!
Step One: Make Sure You're Lighting Dry Wood
This technique for starting a fire will work for a campfire, fireplace fire, or barbecue, as long as the wood you are using is seasoned dry.
Dry, Seasoned Wood will Ignite Easier Than Wet Wood
Step Two: Roll Newspaper into Small Balls
Crumple up a dry newspaper, one sheet at a time, into little balls. These balls will be used to absorb the vegetable oil in the next step and act as your fire starter. If you don't have a newspaper, you can use paper towels, recycled paper, or any flammable paper item.
Step Three: Spray Newspaper with Oil
Spray or pour the vegetable oil on to the newspaper balls. Don't be afraid to apply it liberally; the newspaper will absorb the oil. When the newspaper is lit, the oil will help the paper burn longer which will assist in staring the fire. A piece of newspaper soaked in vegetable oil will burn for a longer time than paper alone; this gives the wood ample time to light and stay lit. You can use either vegetable oil in a liquid or spray form, e.g., Pam. To start a fire, it typically takes about 10 balls of newspaper with oil. It's better to error on the side of too many paper balls because if the fire doesn't light, the process needs to repeated. Using more will ensure the wood lights.
Step Four: Build Your Fire
Place the vegetable oil balls at the bottom of your fire and lay the wood over the top in the shape of a teepee. Leave enough space around the newspaper to allow oxygen to circulate; you don't want to smother the newspaper with the wood. The paper will need oxygen to burn.
Wood in Teepee Shape with Paper Balls at Bottom
Step Five: Light the Fire
Light several of the newspaper balls at the bottom of the fire using a match. The flames from the paper will climb, burning hotter and igniting the wood. As long as your wood is dry, your fire should light easily. I recommend using small pieces of wood at the beginning. Small pieces of kindling and bark light quicker than large chunks of hard wood.
Once the paper is lit, it takes the wood about twenty minutes to fully catch on fire. If the fire starts to go out, try blowing on it and gently rearranging the wood to allow oxygen to circulate.
Place the Newspaper Under the Wood When Lighting
Tips for Successfully Starting a Fire
- Always use dry wood.
- Create a teepee shape with your wood. Wood that has been laid flat will be difficult to ignite.
- Fire needs oxygen to survive. Allowing airflow through the fire is imperative. However, too much wind will quickly put out your budding fire, so make sure that you block any incoming wind.
- Use tinder or kindling to start your fire. You can always add the larger logs after the fire has started.
- If you only have large logs, split them. Split wood lights faster than whole logs.
- Start your fire at the base of the wood where you have your starter. Your fire is unlikely to start if you light it from the top of the teepee.
Questions & Answers
What oil can we use to wet the paper?
Pretty much any oil that you use in the kitchen will work. Canola, vegetable, olive oil have all worked for me to wet the newspaper and then light on fire.Helpful 7
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