How to Build a Campfire

One of my favorite parts of camping is the campfire. There is nothing better that gathering around a warm fire at night with your family or friends, roasting some marshmallows, and sharing stories. Each person has their own way and method to building a campfire. Once the fire is roaring, it is easy to maintain by simply addin­g another log or two. The hard part is starting it. For those of you who struggle with how to build a fire, do not worry: you are not alone. In this guide, we will share all the basics to starting a successful fire.

What You Will Need

To build a basic fire you will need kindling and/or newspaper, sticks or small pieces of wood, logs, and of course matches or a lighter. For successful results, make sure all the materials you use are dry.

Tips and Tricks

Each camper has their own “foolproof” design for building a fire: how to position the logs, how much kindling to use, and so on. When it comes down to it, many different configurations will work, as long as you remember one crucial aspect: airflow. A fire thrives on oxygen. If it does not get enough oxygen, it will suffocate and the flames will die down. The key to starting a successful fire is making sure your log design allows for some air flow to feed and encourage flame growth. Another aspect that will make or break your campfire is the wood you use. The drier the wood and kindling you use, the better your fire will burn. Finally, make sure when you start your fire to start small. Use kindling, newspaper, and small pieces of wood in the beginning and wait for those to ignite well. Once you have a steady small fire burning, add larger pieces of wood one at a time. If you start off with only larger logs, you risk smothering the flames before the log has a chance to catch. If you keep these tips in mind as you construct your fire, you have a good chance at being successful.

Basic Designs

Here are two basic log configurations that have proven to make a successful fire.

The Box

Take four small logs and stack them to form a box: set two logs parallel to each other, and then set another pair of parallel logs on top, rotating 90 degrees while doing so. This design allows for airflow underneath the two top logs, which will help your fire grown. In the center of your box, place kindling, newspaper, and smaller sticks. Ignite the newspaper and kindling, and wait for the larger logs to catch before adding more wood.

The Teepee

For this design, you will use just kindling, sticks, and small pieces of wood to start. Using four smaller pieces of wood, form a triangular, teepee shape. Carefully place kindling, newspaper, and sticks inside of the teepee and ignite. Wait for the smaller pieces of wood to ignite before adding larger logs.

Closing Comments

There you have it: the basics of building and starting a campfire. Remember that fire safety is important on every camping trip, so make sure to exercise perception when building a fire. Always build campfires inside of a designated, walled fire pit, and pay attention forest fire hazard warnings released by local towns. Also, set aside a bucket or two of water to put out the fire before you turn in for the night. Now that you know how to build a fire, you are ready to set out on your camping trip and try it out for yourself. Happy camping!

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