How to Build a Campfire: A Step-by-Step Tutorial
No camping excursion is complete without a roaring fire. From roasting marshmallows or grilling up some burgers, to creating a warm and cozy space for your crew to gather around; a campfire serves as the centerpiece of any camping trip.
If you're new to camping or you've never been responsible for starting a campfire, however, it's normal to feel overwhelmed by the task. Have no fear! With the guide below, you'll be able to build and maintain a roaring campfire successfully.
A word of caution: before you build a fire at any location, make sure you check to find out if open fires are allowed. Some sites limit fire use or completely prohibit it, and you don't want to end up getting fined, or worse, causing a major problem.
Start with a Safe Space
First things first: start with a safe space; a fire ring or a portable fire pit, for example. These structures will contain the blaze, reduce the impact a fire will have on the environment, and increase your safety. Most campsites at formal campgrounds feature some type of established fire ring. If the campsite you're using doesn't have a fire ring or if you're going to be camping in an undeveloped area, bring along a portable fire pit or use a collection of rocks to build your own fire ring.
Prep the Area
Whether you're using a pre-established fire ring, you've built your own, or you're using a portable fire pit, make sure that the space is cleaned out before you start building your fire. Clear out any leaves, twigs, old firewood, ash, and any other debris. Accumulated debris can affect your fire's success, and more importantly, it could potentially lead to a dangerous situation.
Gather your Fuel
To successfully start and maintain a fire, you’ll need the following for fuel:
- Tinder, such as dry leaves, twigs, needles, or even lint from your clothes dryer (it actually works great!)
- Kindling; small sticks would work great.
- Firewood, which would include pieces of wood that are large enough to keep a fire going once the blaze is started
You can purchase kindling and firewood, or you can collect them from the campground (if it's dry). Tinder can also be found around a campground, or you can bring it from home. We like to pack old magazines.
Build Your Fire
To build your fire, start by arranging some kindling into a cone-shape in your fire ring or fire pit. Place a couple of handfuls of tinder in the center of the cone. Ignite the tinder, and the flames will spread to the kindling. Once the kindling is stable, add a log of two of firewood over top of it. Try not to smother the kindling. You may want to build it in a pyramid shape. Others prefer a "log cabin" approach.
Once the firewood catches, make sure to keep a close eye on it. Use a heat-proof poker to adjust the logs as-needed and add more logs, as needed, making sure to exercise caution as you do.
With these simple tips, you'll be able to build a warm, glowing campfire successfully.
- Memphis, TN.