You’re not a true Canadian during winter until you’ve nailed the perfect fire method.
And if you really want to trigger some “oohs” and “ahs” when you’re building a fire at the cottage or inside your own living room, the “top-down” fire-making method will do just that.
The “top-down” (or “upside-down”) fire is gorgeous and easy to do.
After a quick run-through, you’ll be able to make a crackling and hot fire in no time. You’ll feel like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, we promise.
Traditionally, people make fires that burn from the bottom up but the “top-down” method is infinitely better, it burns hotter, and it looks prettier.
The “upside-down” method, popular in the Scandinavian countries, has large logs on the bottom, kindling, and pepper on top and it burns — you guessed it — from the top down.
When done right, the fire will start at the top and slowly work its way down to the bottom, offering a scorching base so all you have to do is add more wood periodically to keep it burning effectively for hours.
The fool-proof method won’t just warm you up, you’ll hear it sizzle. Here’s an easy-to-follow guide on how to really nail down fire-making when the weather cools down.
Step 1: The foundation
Foundation is key to any successful fire.
Before you build your fire, pick out at least two large logs (ideally threeto five inches in diameter) and make them your base. Make sure to space about two inches in between.
A good fire gets plenty of oxygen — don’t smother the logs.
If you’re building a rager (or you have smaller logs), you can put four of five logs beside each other.
Make sure they’re all laid down parallel to each other with small gaps in between.
Step 2: The second row
Lay down the second layer of logs perpendicular to the first and make sure they’re smaller. Be sure to place them with gaps of about 3/4 to one inch between them.
Step 3: The kindling
Place three or four pieces of kindling on top of your second layer, parallel with the foundation base (and perpendicular to the previous layer).
Step 4: Paper it up
The last building step calls for paper on top. Everyone has a different preference for how this is done. Some fire-makers twist sheets, others knot, and some shred.
As long as the majority of the paper is at the top of your fire, you’ll be fine with any method.
We’re fans of shredding the paper up top and we bundle up a knot and stuff it right in the middle of the first and second layers of logs.
The crumpled-up paper in the middle will catch and will provide the source of heat that the entire fire builds off.
Step 5: Light the top
Light the top and watch as the fire slowly makes its way down to the middle, your catalyst for a simmering fire.
After about 10 minutes, the kindling will catch, the paper will burn, and those layers of logs will already start getting hot. This baby will start sizzling real soon.
Step 6: Call everyone into the room and brag about how cool your fire looks
If executed properly, you’ve harnessed the power of the sun and the fire will already start to be hot after about 10 minutes.
It’ll start sizzling and crackling and will emit a crisp smoke — just in time for you to sip on tea and read a book.
Cozy up, folks. You’re a true fire-maker now.