Lighting A Fire

Lighting a fire, how hard can this be?
Well I can tell you from experience that if not done correctly you can end up with a garden full of smoke and a very small fire that will hardly cook a sausage!
For my first fire I built a pile of soft wood over some rolled up pieces of newspaper and added small pieces of hard wood as the flames grew larger, but the fire never really got going and I had an unbelievable amount of smoke billowing out of the oven.
After some research on the internet I came across the 'Top to Bottom' technique which I have detailed below.
By using this technique I am now able to start a fire very quickly with a minimal amount of smoke.


Firelighters are not essential, as rolled up newspaper would also work. But I prefer to use them as they burn for longer and generate a lot of heat.
If you do use firelighters then go for natural ones as they do not leave behind any harmful residue.

The first step is to use pieces of hardwood to build the base. I started off using three pieces of wood but to get a larger initial fire I now use five pieces as shown below.

This is how I now build the base for the initial fire. It provides a larger base so more soft wood can be stacked on top. This generates more heat during the initial fire.

More hardwood is now placed on top. Make sure there are gaps in between the wood as this allows the air to flow between the wood and help with combustion.

Lay pieces of softwood on top of the hard wood.

Lay more softwood on top. remember to leave the gaps for the air flow.

I now place three fire lighters on to the wood.

Stack a few pieces of wood above the middle firelighter.

The photos above show the fire being built outside of the oven.
The actual fire should be built inside the oven, towards the front.

Light the firelighters and wait.

Within a few minutes if will soon be burning well.

Burning really well now. At this point I would start to add a few more pieces of hard wood, one piece at a time.

After soaking the door in water, I place it in the oven but leaving it slightly open so the air can get in.

After about 25mins (once the fire is fully ablaze) the fire can be pushed to the back or to the side of the oven.
At this point the fire may die down, but blow on the embers and it will soon come back to life (you may have to add a few pieces of softwood).

After 55 minutes the temperature in the oven was 200ºC

Nice and hot!