Every camper knows the key to a great camping experience is a good campfire on a cool night in the woods. Of course, it is not always easy to build a campfire and maintain it for as long as you need—especially for those campers with little experience. Nothing is more frustrating than struggling to light and keep a campfire from dying down while it gets darker.
Most importantly, knowing how to control it safely and put it out when you are ready is of great significance. This article will teach you how to build a campfire safely and quickly.
What Items You Will Need
To start and keep up a good campfire, you will need to ensure that you have some specific items with you, ready to use.
Firewood is your fuel, so it is one of the most critical items to have with you. In most campgrounds, firewood will be available, but you can also buy it in gas stations nearby during the summer months. However, many campground rules don’t allow firewood from an area further than 50 miles from your campsite. This is because bringing wood from other regions may introduce foreign pests that might endanger the local environment. Therefore, it is advised to use local firewood.
If you want to chop your own wood, you must use dead, dry wood. Dryness in the wood is essential as it lights up much easier than a damp log. Do not attempt to cut down a whole tree. Even if it appears dead, it might house several small animals.
Some types of wood that are good for a campfire are birch, oak, ash, maple, beech, etc. The logs need to be medium size, so they will take enough time to burn but still quickly light up.
Kindling is smaller and thinner pieces of wood, like small dried twigs and sticks. Basically, kindling needs to be much smaller than firewood, around 1″ (2.5 cm). These are used to shape the fire and help the bigger pieces of firewood to catch fire.
Besides the firewood and the kindling, you will also need some tinder. Tinder is a very small, flammable material that can flare up and build your fire. You can easily find tinder around your campsite since it includes materials such as small sticks, pine needles, wood shavings, dry grass, dry leaves, cardboard pieces, dried moss, small twigs, and even dryer lint.
However, if any of the materials mentioned above are wet, don’t use them in your campfire pit. Without a doubt, they won’t be of much help. Some commercial fire starter options can be equally helpful when building campfires.
Finally, you will need a flame source or fire starter to start your campfire. Any lighter or matches should do the job, but if you have strong survival skills, you can try the old method with the sticks and the rock.
What You Need to Know
Before you start planning how to build your campfire for your next camping trip, there are a few things you should be aware of.
The first thing to do: Check if you are allowed to build campfires. Not all campsites permit campfires, and each may have its own fire restriction. There are also a lot of periods during the year when there is a fire ban. This is to prevent forest fires from taking place during the dry season.
If campfires are allowed, then you look for a safe spot to build one. At many campsites, there are fire pits available for your convenience. Regardless of whether you have a fire pit or not, always make sure to clear the area of any dead branches and debris that is flammable. If you lack a fire pit, putting stones around the campfire will help contain it. Always avoid lighting a campfire or fire ring around wooden structures or trees.
It is important to know that there is more than one type and style of campfires. Each is used for different reasons. Before you begin to plan your fire, have in mind what you are trying to achieve with it. For example, a teepee fire is structured like a cone, placing a pile of tinder in the center and putting small pieces of kindling above it.
As the kindling burns, you can add the bigger logs. Since they have a larger circumference, they take more time to burn, which keeps your fire going longer. This type of fire is excellent for those hoping to keep up the fire for longer and get warm and cozy around it.
The log cabin fire is another type of campfire that is great for cooking. To make a log cabin fire, build pile of kindling and twigs into the shape of a teepee. Next, build four walls around the cone with bigger logs or larger pieces of wood.
Finally, always make sure to have at least one person overseeing the campfire, and have a bucket of water nearby.
4 Easy Steps on How to Build a Campfire
Let’s take a look at a few easy steps that will help you lay your fire fast and easily.
Choose the style of campfire you want and start building it. Use your tinder as a base, add the kindling to get the fire going and finally, place the firewood so it can keep building.
Select your source of flame and light the tinder to get it started. As the tinder starts lighting up, blow gently at the center of it to add more oxygen and intensify the flame. Ensure the fire spreads to the kindling and then to the firewood logs.
It is almost certain that you will have to add more tinder or kindling along the way to burn the bigger logs. Make sure you always have extra tinder and kindling to add to your campfire once you see it starts dying down. You should keep moving your logs to better positions in the center to burn more.
It takes some time to extinguish a fire fully. Make sure to plan ahead, so it will be completely off by the time you are ready to leave. The easiest way to put it out is to pour water over it gently. Do not stand too close as the hot steam might burn you.
Stir the ashes until all the charcoal and embers are wet and extinguished. You should add more water if you need to until the ashes get cool. If you are unsure if all the embers are out, then stay longer and add more water until you are confident that the fire is out.
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