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Stay nice and warm outside this winter with a Swedish torch fire



Brian Bennett / CNET

Portable fire pits are fun, soothing and can transform your backyard into a comfortable space for lounging with family and friends. Still, even the fanciest smokeless fire pit needs to be looked after, at least if you make a traditional fire in it. Due to their sophisticated airflow systems, smokeless fire baskets also radiate less heat than regular fire baskets. That̵

7;s a hindrance during cold winter months, when staying warm by a fire outside can help beat the cold weather blues.

The Swedish torch is an alternative fire building method that solves this problem. Follow the instructions below and you will be able to get your fire pit going with less kindling and it will put out a lot of heat as well. Best of all, a Swedish torch fire requires almost no grooming. This is how it works.

The Swedish torch

The traditional fire building technique requires thick blocks on top, usually arranged in a pyramid or stacked square in the well-known log cabin style. You put smaller pieces of wood and kindling underneath, then you light the kindling and wait for the larger logs to finally catch. Then add large logs one at a time once you have laid a bed of hot coals.

Swedish torch technology is completely different. The original method uses one thick trunk, even a stump. Then you saw out pieces of wood, both from top to bottom and from the bottom. This essentially creates vents for better airflow through the center of the trunk. A paraffin fire starter is used to ignite the torch.

I suggest the flashlight style is much easier. Since smokeless firepits already have good ventilation, the missing piece is fuel, and a lot of it.

Step 1: Gather what you need

Here’s a quick rundown of the supplies you will need:

Swedish firepit wood

Brian Bennett / CNET

Step 2: Control your fuel

Assuming your fire pit is clean and free of debris, the first step is to fill it with wood. Stack your logs vertically (lengthwise) in the pit. The idea is to fill it with as many logs as possible and wrap them as close as possible.

The exact amount you use will depend on the specific size and diameter of your fire pit. In my case, it took 13 logs to fill my Solo Stove Yukon test well, which has a 23-inch diameter mouth. The wood I used was a mix of kiln-dried oak and hickory sourced from my local Kroger supermarket.

Step 3: Perform a security check

It should go without saying, but fire is dangerous. Make sure your pit is away from combustible materials and structures. Also, be careful not to stand near low-hanging tree limbs or other obstructions above your flame. Sparks and embers are a particular risk in flare fires as their flames are large, hot and use a lot of fuel.

Swedish fire pit ignites

Brian Bennett / CNET

Step 4: Light it up

Place fire starters in the center of the top portion of your firewood. Then place small pieces of kindling wood on top. I’ve stacked mine in a loose log cabin formation. Now comes the moment you’ve been waiting for: inflammation.

Swedish fire pit ignites 2

Brian Bennett / CNET

I lit things with my handy butane hand lamp, but a lighter or match is fine. Within about 15 minutes, the middle trunks were completely caught.

Swedish brazier flame

Brian Bennett / CNET

Step 5: Sit back and enjoy the show

The great thing about this fire-building method is that after the first ignition I had little to do. The flames fell slowly from the top of the firewood. They also spread outward from the center to ignite adjacent logs. I didn’t have to add extra wood for hours. I really didn’t have to do anything.

And for much of the burning time, the firewood extended beyond the mouth of the well. That meant that the fire released a lot more heat than usual. It also produced a bit more smoke, but that’s a minor complaint. Especially this deep in winter, after being inside all year round, the strange cloud of smoke is a fair trade for being able to stay outside even when it’s cold.


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