For the next Floridian deep freeze.
“The Upside Down Fire Method Creates Long-Lasting Flames [Household]
Standard fire-building lore would have you believe a great fire starts with a tipi of wood and pile of tinder under it. Turning things upside down, it turns out, yields longer and hotter flames.
Tim Ferriss, of Four-Hour Work Week fame, was tired of how ineffective the tepee method was. That method—a pile of wood is arranged in an inverted cone, smaller sticks and tinder fill it in, and the fire catches dry wood at the top—sometimes produces an impressive, roaring fire. Other times, constant attendance is needed for even a modest, sputtering flame. At the suggestion of an associate, Ferriss turned the whole thing upside down:
1) Put the largest logs at the bottom, ensuring there is no space at all between them.
2) Put a second layer of smaller logs on top of the largest, again ensuring there are no spaces between them.
3) Repeat until you get to the top, where you will have strips of crumpled paper and – at the very top – 3-5 fire-starter squares (my preference) or fire-starter oil sticks. My favorite sequence from bottom to top is large logs (unsplit), split logs, sapling wood, cedar shingle wood, then paper and fire-starting squares.
This inversion ensures that the embers created by the lighter kindling-wood fall directly onto the heavier wood, and the entire fire burns more efficiently with minimal fussing.
While I can’t vouch for his exact method, I have been using a similar technique for years, with a small variation of building a bed of the heavy split-logs, then building a Lincoln-log-style fort of kindling atop that to achieve the same effect of dumping the hot embers onto the wood. One inexpensive addition to a home fireplace that will greatly extend the burn time and warmth of your fires a mesh fire screen, placed across the fireplace grate to keep the embers from falling through prematurely. I’ve used the spark screen off an old fireplace insert for years in this manner, but any sturdy metal screening should do the trick.
If you’re a devotee of inverted tipi, or you’re a devotee of another technique, gather round and share your story in the comments.