Hiking - Knowledge

Camping Basics: How to Build a Campfire

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We all love adventure, don’t we? Sometimes all we want is to pack our bags and go out on an adventure filled travel. Camping not only gives you some quality time to connect with nature but also helps you discover yourself in a way which will help you to understand yourself. You can learn quite a lot about yourself while going for camping.So if you are someone who has decided to go camping, hiking or backpacking, there is one thing that comes to the mind – how to build a campfire?

This is one question most campers struggle with. In addition to that if you do not have any matches, then the situation becomes even more complicated. Any hiking and camping activity is incomplete without a campfire. Camping helps you to test your strength, ability to survive amidst nature and also improve your patience.

Whether you decide to have a bonfire night, roast your bacon and marshmallows or use it as a source of heat, you should first be well aware of the most appropriate way to build fire even without matches.

Building up a campfire is not a difficult and tricky task. You just have to be attentive and very careful about it. So, let’s just start and learn how to build a campfire.

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Steps on How to Build a Campfire

Listed below are the key steps on how to build a campfire and enjoy a cold night under zillion stars –

1. Search for the perfect area to build the fire bed

The first thing to fix in your mind is to choose a spot for the fire or a place where burning fires are allowed. Look for the signs around if it is permitted or not or enquire about it beforehand. While knowing about how to build a fire on a camping trip, you must be prepared to make your own fireplace in times when you are unable to find any suitable fireplace already kept aside as a campfire area.

2. How to Create the Fire Bed

If a fire bed is already present then well and good or else create it.

Choose an area where the risk of fire to get out of control is less. As a camper, one of the fire basics that you should know is that the fire pit should be on bare earth and not on dried leaves, barks, far away from bushes, plants, and trees, in short anything that can catch fire and can be dangerous.

How to Create Your Fire Bed
How to Create Your Fire Bed

Also, keep in mind that if that area is safe to stay or not. Always remember to build a fire bed on the ground where there is no that dead grass or dry leaves. If you are unable to find such a bare place, then make one by plucking out the grass from the ground and clearing the area of any tree bark or branches as well as dry grass as these things catch fire quickly.

Clean it and create 8-10 feet of a pit for the fire. After this, make sure that you have enough water available in case it becomes hard to control.

3. Gather Woods

In case you have opted for the traditional wood campfire method, you would require three basics types of materials to build a campfire- Kindling, Tinder, and Firewood.

Gather Your Wood
Gather Wood

1. Tinder

A good quality tinder is a key to the good campfire! Tinder is the small materials which ignite rather easily with just a spark like shredded bark, wax, cardboard, dry grass, wood shavings, mosses or fungi. However, one needs to make sure that they finely shredded and absolutely dry.

Livingit Tip
You can bring tinder from your home so as to save the trouble of looking for them in the wilderness.

2. Kindling

One of the best ways to make kindling materials catch fire from the tinder is choosing smaller dry materials. Since tinder catches fire easily, kindling will help the fire to sustain and stay longer. These are the medium sized materials which consist of small twigs, dry leaves, bigger pieces of bark which are of the width of a pencil. Make sure that the kindling materials are dry or else if you are using damp items it will take forever to build your fire.

3. Firewood

The third type of material which you should be looking for while building a fire is the fuel wood as they help to keep the fire burning and gives out the warmth that you need in the cold evenings while camping.They are the large sustainable materials that are used so as to keep it going once the kindling catches fire. The wood needs to be as dry as possible. Look out for branches from trees and plants which is about the size of your wrist or the size of your forearm.

Livingit Tip
Don’t look for wood blocks as they take more time to burn. Choose woods, barks that are easy to break.

4. Building the Campfire

There are three kinds of methods that you can try while building your campfire- Log Cabin, Teepee, and Upside Down (Pyramid).

asics types of materials to build a campfire: Lay Your Fire
Building Campfire Source

1. Log Cabin

For this method, you would need to place two pieces of firewood exactly parallel to each other. You must ensure that there is some room left in between so as to form the base of the structure.Then you would need to turn about 90 degrees and then place two smaller pieces of wood perpendicular and on top of each other so that they form a square.
You could then go on and add a few more layers of firewood but remember to use smaller ones as you proceed. Finish it off with an extra layer of tinder and kindling on the top.

Remember to place the logs in such a way that there is some space left between them so that it can get enough oxygen. Log cabin is one of the best kindling method for long lasting campfire!

2. Teepee

For Teepee, you would need to start off by building a small cone with the kindling around the tinder which you would need to pile up loosely in the middle of the fire ring. Light it and as it starts becoming strong, add larger pieces of wood if required. You might also need to blow softly in order to create flames that would spread to the kindling and the wood.

Livingit Tip
Teepee is one of the best kindling methods for cooking your meals.

3. Pyramid (Upside Down)

For this method, you would need to begin with about three to four bigger logs and place them side-to-side on the bottom layer. Then you would need to turn 90 degrees and add the next layer of smaller sized logs on the top.

You would keep on adding smaller pieces of wood as you go. The kindling and the tinder would then be needed to be placed on the top.

Also, read Essential Tips for Camping Like a Pro!

5. Lighting a Campfire

Now that you are clear with how to build a campfire, let’s dive into how to light a campfire!

Once you have chosen your ideal method as to how to build a fire, you would need to light the tinder with a lighter or a match. You must ensure that you have packed the fire starting materials.

Once the tinder is lit, start blowing softly at the base in order to provide oxygen to it. This would work on to intensify the flame and ignite the wood further. As the wood starts burning, remember to move the embers towards the center so that they burn completely.

Lighting a Campfire
Lighting a Campfire

Slowly add kindling as the fire grows. And keep the fire under control. An ideal campfire is when it gets reduced to ash.

Want to build a perfect campfire?

Then keep on adding the fuelwood and long sticks, barks to the fire and you are good to go. You can also use dry leaves and grass. Build the fire as much required or else it may be impossible later to control it. The important thing here is to maintain the flame. So, this is a bit difficult task for you because to cook food you have to control the fire.

If you do not have matches, there are a few other items too that can be used like lenses (eyeglasses or magnifying glasses), steel and flint, batteries and steel wool, household items like candles, alcohol based hand sanitizers, clothes dryer lint and insect repellents.

Enjoy the warmth, smell and the dancing flames of the perfect campfire. Toss the matchstick into the fire once it has cooled off.

6. Extinguishing the Campfire

Now that you have learned the steps to build a campfire, you should even know how to extinguish it. Don’t rush and hurt yourself! Putting off the fire can be a taxing job as the fire takes really long time to extinguish. It is ideal to put off the fire 15-20 minutes before you leave the place.

How to Build a Campfire
Extinguish campfire Source

Fire can be put out by sprinkling water over them, stirring the ashes slowly and then pouring the water over it again. Even when you think that your fire is completely out, the wind can reignite the embers and start building the fire again.

To make sure that the fire has been extinguished, you can place your hand over the ashes and check if the fire pit is radiating heat. If you feel the heat, it means that the fire hasn’t extinguished and that you need to wait for a little more time. Keep sprinkling water and stirring till the heat is completely gone. If you do not have access to water, you could drown the campfire with dirt.

7. Cleaning up the Campfire

After extinguishing your campfire, it is essential to move ahead and clean up the campfire. Always have water aside for safety. Don’t pour the water all over the fire. Just sprinkle as much as the water is required. Stir the ashes with a stick so that water reaches all over.

Don’t touch the ashes carelessly and burn them. Ensure that the ashes are not hot. Make sure that the ashes have completely cooled down before you leave the area. Never ever leave a campfire unattended. Don’t leave the ashes there as others can also use that for campfire so make sure to clear the area you have used. Dispose them around the campsite.

Safety measures for Campfire

How to build a campfire? Is it dangerous? Do I need to follow some safety measures?

Well! Yes, you do. Below are the warning or precautions involved while building a campfire.

  • Find a safe place to build a campfire.
  • Choose area far from your tents.
  • Always try to collect wood from the forest that have fallen off and that you can easily break with your hand.
  • Always look for dry tree barks and leaves.
  • When it comes to kindling, fuel wood, and tinder, collect more than what you need. More is safe.
  • Never use ignitable items to start a fire.
  • Do not neglect the fire to other things, this can be dangerous.
  • Always have a first-aid kit for an emergency.
  • Do not throw used matchstick anywhere.
  • Stay away from fire if you are not able to handle and have some adult beside you for help or assistance.
  • Do not wear any complicated clothes that can catch fire.
  • Do not to disturb or hurt any animals near you because of the fire.
  • Make sure children stay away from fire

Hiking and camping are one of the best ways to relax and to find true yourself. Campfire is the highlight of this journey. It is not just about ‘how to build a campfire’, cooking food, and camping – it’s way more than that. The smell, rendezvous with nature, new memories, new friends, new connections and most importantly the campfire cooked food with the best company and great music. So, get started to gain good experiences make some memories and add it to your book of life.

Wish you happy camping and a successful campfire!!!

We would love to hear about your camping experiences in the comments below.

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