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How to Build a Campfire?

methods to make a campfire

Last Updated on February 18, 2021 by Tent Reviewer

Building fire is important when you are camping because it’s the best natural way of heating your surroundings. Building a campfire is one of the camping pleasures people long for. Although campfires are fun, you need to be careful when selecting your fire site.

Your campfire should be manageable no matter the time of the year you are camping. Whether you are camping alone or as a group checking campfire restrictions is important. This prevents effects such as forest fires.

In this article, we are going to tackle steps involved in building a campfire from preparation, maintenance, to extinguishing the campfire.

methods to make a campfire

How to Prepare a Campfire?

Preparation of a campfire requires you to be able to select a suitable site and make sure you have all the necessary materials for a campfire.

Site Selection

When you are selecting a campsite ensure the campground rules don’t prohibit campfires. Always make sure the location is not too dry or in hazardous conditions.

For your spot to be safe, you can use any designated fire ring or fire pit. In a different case, ensure your spot got no overhead or dead branches.

Your fire ring or pit should have a sand, gravel, or mineral soil basement. Your site spot should be about 15 feet from trees, shrubs, and tent walls.

An open site with the leveled ground is better considering the direction of the wind.

Campfire Materials

Campfire materials are key while you are going camping. You need to have them with you or knowing where you can access them before leaving home.

Also, you need to consider the campground’s rules whether they permit campers to gather campfire materials there or should be having their own. You need the following materials for building a successful campfire.

Kindling

build a campfire with kindling

they are essential in starting a fire. It ensures your wood or logs burn and enables your fire to keep going. The common types of kindling found in nature include:

  • Dry branches and small twigs

Always ensure they are not cut recently.

  • Flatwoods

A fire starter that is chemical-free derived from old pine stump woods and limbs. Flatwoods are organic 100 percent.

  • Cedar barks

They are the best naturally occurring fire starter which is highly flammable. You can lit them when damp due to their fibrous nature.

You can apply kindling materials to your fire throughout from start. For you to make the right choice of kindling materials consider the following:

The material should not be too thick. Ensure it is about a thumb thicker. When your kindling material is thicker it might extinguish your fire instead.

Check if it is elbow to fingertips long.

Firewood

set a bonfire with firewood

Firewood plays the role of fire fuel and needs to be completely dry to light easily. As a good camper, you need to consider the best firewood when purchasing or gathering. Here are some of the common types to consider:

  • Beech

Although this species of firewood burns long and hot. It requires almost a year of proper seasoning before use. It is usually dense and heavy.

  • Oak

This type of firewood is most popular. Oakwood produces less-sparkling fire because it is usually slow-burning and dense.

  • Birch firewood

This species is softer and burns quickly. In that case, you are supposed to combine it with dried slower kiln firewood like oak. Once split birch wood dries faster.

It burns excellently producing more heat. Consider choosing black or yellow birch species for much heat. Black birch type burns for a longer time and hotter.

  • Ash firewood

It is a hardwood that burns clean giving out plenty of heat. You can use it when green, seasoned, or unseasoned. For better results, you need to use it when seasoned. Ash firewood contains a slight aroma.

Tinder

build a campfire with tinder

When you want to build a campfire, you need tinder because it’s easy to find though smallest. They are good fire starter. Common tinder species are dryer lint, candle wax, wood shavings, cardboard pieces, pine needles, and more.

Flame source

You need to have a spark source with you. Unless you are perfect at starting a fire using few sticks, pack several matches. Other than matches you can bring a lighter, or flint and steel for producing flames.

 

How Do You Stack Wood for a Bonfire?

The way you stack your wood determines the amount of heat produced. How best you can build a bonfire depends on the amount of wood you have as well as the purpose of the fire. There are several ways you can use to stack your wood leading to different types of campfires.

1. Teepee

corn-shaped structure help keep the campfire

Here you need to stack your woods to resemble a cone-shaped structure. Ensure you place the larger bundle of wood at the bottom. The place smaller pieces above to form a cone shape.

You can continue to place longer kindling materials to cone structure by leaning them against the frame. It’s hot and burns rapidly as its circular base allows more oxygen flow. Its fire is best for quick warming.

2. Upside-down pyramid

Here you stack woods closer together: place two logs at the bottom parallel to each other, then another two on top perpendicularly.

Then you repeat the similar process till you attain your desired height.

Lastly, you need to start your fire at the top. An upside-down pyramid or platform fire is suitable for cooking food as it can sustain itself.

3. Log cabin

This kind is similar to platform fire, they only differ in that in log cabin logs are placed leaving a center space. You need to place two logs parallel at the bottom.

Then place another layer on top of them in a perpendicular way. In a similar step stack your logs to the desired height.

Then you can place your kindling materials in the center space and ignite them. Always ensure you place thicker logs at the bottom lighter ones on top.

The square center space allows plenty of oxygen making the fire last longer and maintainable.

different shapes to pile the campfire wood

4. Lean-To

This method is suitable when your campsite is located in a breezy or windy area. Lean-to-fire uses its logs as a windbreaker.

Here place a thicker log on the ground, then place tinder materials against it on the wind leeward side.

Lean more tinder and kindling materials then start your fire. Once the big log catches fire, gently add larger pieces of wood.

5. Star

Star fire is suitable when you have low supplies of wood. You need to gather about four logs un-splinted and of any length.

Using kindling create a small con fire then drag your logs towards the center, logs burns from one end.

Once one piece is consumed, push another one to burn. A star fire lasts for a long because it burns slowly.

 

How to Build a Campfire?

To build a successful campfire you need to ensure you have all necessary supplies, that is flame source, ample oxygen supply, and the best fuel. Having all these consider the following steps for an impressive campfire.

1. Campfire positioning

When it comes to site selection ensure you find a safe campsite spot. Make sure your site is at least 15 feet away from your tent, bushes, overhanging tree branches, dry grasses, and any other flammable object.

Clear the area to get rid of anything that can easily catch fire. In case of a popularly visited area consider using a site with an existing fire ring. Check for a flat area considering the direction of the wind.

2. Create a fire bed

Unless you are in wild camping, the campsite generally has fire rings already designated for use. You need to use an existing one, however, some situations may force you to build your fire pit.

Ensure your fire pit is properly exposed to the earth. You can clear away any grasses to achieve this. Provide your fire bed with enough space to avoid any hazardous material.

ways to build a good bonfire

3. Create a ring of rock

Here, you can use dry rocks that are medium-sized, put them spaced to allow enough circulation of air at the fire bottom. Wet rocks are not suitable for use because they can break down once heated or even release moisture.

4. Gather your wood

Here, ensure you have enough woods to burn throughout. Depending on your camping area you can carry your woods or collect around there. Ensure they are perfectly dry for excellent burning.

Gather more kindling and tinder materials to avoid earlier run out and for the effective fire startup. Ensure you have enough tinder, firelighters, kindling, and fuel. Mixing different sized logs will make your bonfire hot and last for a longer time.

5. Campfire building

You need to be capable of laying your fire. You can achieve this by using stacking your woods differently. The purpose of your fire determines the fire lay method to apply.

You can use any of the following types: log cabin, lean-to, platform fire, star, or teepee. Your camping environment will play a huge role in decision making.

6. Light your fire

After you have successfully set up everything. Ensure you have placed a tinder at the center and using a match or a lighter start the fire. It’s recommendable to have a lighter that is wind resistant or usable in all conditions.

After lighting your fire you are supposed to build it up slowly no matter the method used. Add thicker logs to start up thinner woods.

guides to keep your campfire burning

 

How to Maintain a Campfire?

Maintaining your campfire is easier as it simply means keeping your fire burning. To ensure successful fire burning throughout you can do the following:

Dry firewood

To maintain your bonfire always ensure you use completely dry woods. Any moisture in the logs can put off the fire leaving a pile of smoke. To avoid this you can gather tinder materials.

You can use seasoned wood as it catches fire easily and sustains burn. Birch and oak firewood burns hot and lasts for long, hence suitable for use.

Softwood vs hardwood

To successfully maintain your campfire it is important to commence your fire with softwood and later start adding hardwoods. Softwoods such as firs burn down very fast despite lighting up easily. Hardwoods are suitable for producing more heat as well as burning for a longer time.

Tinder and kindling

These are smaller pieces of firewood that draw larger flames easily. To make your fire durable you need to apply both of them. Since tinder is thinner than kindling then you need to start your fire and kindling will assist in sustaining it.

Good tinder materials include cotton swabs, newspapers, and more. Also, you can use natural birch barks. Examples of kindling materials are broken tree branches, dried leaves, and well-dried twigs.

Oxygen circulation

You need to ensure your fire got enough air ventilation, especially at the firebase. Accessibility of plenty of oxygen will assist to fan your flames.

To achieve this you need to do the following: blowing on the fire, frequently adding tinder materials, and lastly ensuring enough spaces while stacking your woods.

 

How to Extinguish the Campfire?

 

Before heading to your tent to sleep you are supposed to ensure your campfire is completely put out. Firstly, sprinkle water on the fire lightly. Mix properly the embers and ashes with enough soil.

Ensure every hot ember even that partially burnt logs are extinguished completely with the use of water. Make sure everything is wet.

With your hands make sure you feel everything around the fire pit – embers, coals, rock fire pit, and partially-burned logs.

In this case, ensure everything is cool to the touch. Check the presence of embers under the rocks, if any sprinkle some water.

Then take your time to check for any ember or sparks throughout the entire campfire site to prevent cases of wildfires. Don’t leave until the site is safe to leave.

 

Conclusion

Always ensure your fire pit or ring is clean of any debris once you are done with the fire or before leaving your fire site. Ensure you carefully select your fire site basement to avoid healthy soil sterilization. You need to take enough time to extinguish your campfire to prevent cases of wildfire.