The biggest mistake people make when building a fire is throwing on more wood than required, says Schalk Jonker, editor of go! Drive & Camp.

He says for a typical braai of four to six people, you don’t need more than 5kg of good quality braai wood such as Kameeldoring.

“What you want is that the maximum amount of coals be ready for when its time to braai,” Jonker told Business Insider South Africa.

“So, when you chuck on more wood because the game isn’t finished yet, that takes a while to burn out and the coals you do have cool down so your fire isn’t as hot as it can be.”

Jonker says the typical fire takes roughly 45 minutes to create pristine coals.

He explained to Business Insider South Africa how to make the perfect fire for a braai.

1) Pack out all the wood

Jonker says he always packs out all the wood he’s going to use beforehand to form a good idea of what wood to use where.


2) Place fire starter


3) Place kindling

Ideally, when using wetter wood you’d like to use very fine wood to help the fire along, says Jonker. “But dried wood bought in a plastic bag tends to burn much easier.”


4) Light fire

Jonker says you want to light the blitz or fire starter at a stage when it’s not completely covered with wood to ensure that it burns quite easily. Once it's burning properly you can add additional wood.


5) Place larger pieces of wood

Place the bigger pieces of wood that they balance themselves against each other, while creating enough openings at the bottom that the fire gets enough oxygen to burn.


6) Allow fire to form coals

Jonker says the wood in the middle will burn out and form coals first, followed by the outer layer. He recommends that you keep an eye on the wood to always scrape together pieces to ensure that everything forms coals.


7) Braai

Once all the wood has burnt out and formed hot red coals, you know its ready to braai, Jonker says. “The last few pieces don’t create that much fire so they’ll probably lie and smoulder for a bit. So once they’ve burnt out and you can get a nice open spread of coals you're good to go.”