One of the perks of camping is spending the evening gathered around a roaring campfire, sharing stories and enjoying s’mores. If you aren’t a seasoned veteran, you may struggle with making a campfire that burns well and produces light. To help you out, below you will find some fool-proof tips for starting the perfect campfire.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
To build a campfire you will need tinder, kindling, firewood, and a lighter or matches. Tinder is the small, flammable materials that will actually get the fire started – options include wood shavings, pieces of cardboard, wadded up paper, dryer lint, wax, or commercial fire starter bricks. Kindling is the smaller pieces you use to get the fire going and they should be no more than 1/2-inch in diameter. For firewood, make sure the wood is no more than 5 inches in diameter and it should be completely dry – no green or wet wood!
Step 2: Prepare the Space
If you are camping in a camping ground there may already be a fire pit or ring prepared – if there is not, you’ll have to do it yourself. Start by clearing an 8-foot circle of ground, removing any live vegetation and dead grass. Dig a few inches down into the dirt to create a round pit, mounding the dirt around the edges to create a wall. You can also use large rocks to create a ring around the pit. Once the space is prepared you can actually build the fire.
Step 3: Build the Fire
There are several different techniques for building a fire. One option is to create a teepee shape out of kindling on top of your tinder then cover the kindling with a teepee of firewood – this option is good for cooking. Another option is the lean-to method where you stick a piece of kindling into the ground at a 30-degree angle. Then you use more kindling to lean against the stick, creating a tent – you will add firewood as the kindling starts to burn. A third option is the log cabin method where you build a teepee out of kindling and then build a square shape out of firewood around it. You can top the cabin with more kindling to help the fire catch.
Step 4: Light the Fire
After building your campfire you finally come to the fun stage – lighting it. For the best results, make sure to light the pile of tinder from multiple sides so it burns toward the middle. You should never use gasoline or lighter fluid to start a campfire because the flames could shoot into the air, following the path of the steam, and you could get burned. After your tinder has burned and the kindling has caught fire you can add small pieces of firewood to build the fire.
Step 5: Put Out Your Fire
While building and lighting the campfire are the most important tasks you also need to remember that eventually the fire needs to be put out. The first thing you want to do is to sprinkle some water over the coals – do not just pour a bucket of water over the fire or you will flood the pit, potentially ruining it for the next camper. While you are sprinkling the water, use a stick to stir the coals around to make sure that they get wet. Continue sprinkling water and stirring the coals until the steam subsides and there are no more hissing sounds – that is how you know the fire is completely out.
If you follow the five simple tips above you will be able to build the perfect campfire each and every time. The more you practice, the better you will get and you will be able to build your campfires bigger and faster over time.