Camping can never be complete without a campfire. Think about it. The warmth, the smell, the dancing flames, the glowing coals, the crackle, the friends, the songs, the spooky campfire stories, the sound made by crickets, the stories, and of course the delicious smores. Campfires provide a time to reflect, a feeling of tranquility, and a connection with nature.
If you want to enjoy your camping experience, one of the skills you need to learn is how to build a campfire.
The following is a step-by-step guide to help you build a campfire.
Choose your spot
To prevent the likelihood of wildfires, avoid building a campfire during abnormally dry conditions or droughts. Since there are dangers involved, be sure to always ask if the campsite allows campfires before you start.
In some campsites, there is a fire pit or fire ring available. If not, make sure your fire ring/pit is downwind and about 15 ft away from any low lying branches or tents to avoid tree damage or injury to fellow campers.
Building your campfire pit
Clear a 10 ft diameter area on the site. Clear any grass, leaves, twigs and firewood. Also ensure that there aren’t any flammable objects or tree limbs hanging overhead. Then dig a 1 ft deep pit in the dirt and circle it with rocks.
Now the next step is to fill the fire ring with little pieces of dry wood. Never cut twigs or branches from live trees. Respect the nearby environment. Fresh wood will take very long to light never mind burn.
Collect 3 types of wood
You will need 3 basic types of wood for the campfire, namely tinder, kindling, as well as fuel wood.
Tinder includes material such as dry grass, dry leaves, wood shavings, dry bark, and some feathery fungi. It catches fire easily and burns fast. When it’s wet outside, you should bring your own dry lint as tinder. Wet tinder doesn’t catch fire.
Since tinder burns fast, you will need something heavier to keep the flame burning. You can’t immediately move to big logs. This will just put out your little flame. You will need kindling. Kindling normally comprises branches and small twigs. Use something that is about the thickness of a pencil. Just like tinder, kindling must be dry or it won’t burn easily. If you have wet branches and twigs, try peeling away the bark using your pocket knife.
Fuel wood keeps the fire hot and burning. However, it doesn’t need to be huge logs used in a fireplace. Huge logs will take too long to catch fire. Use branches about the width of your wrist or forearm.
When gathering wood to make a fire, pick wood that easily snaps and breaks. Dry wood burns best. Don’t use green or wet wood as it will produce lots of smoke. However, fuel wood may be a bit damp but your fire will dry it.
Gather as much wood for campfire (tinder, kindling, as well as fuel wood) as you think you will need. When starting your fire, you will be surprised by the speed at which tinder and kindling burns.
Loosely pile some tinder in the middle of the fire pit/ring, and add some kindling in either of these methods:
Cross-crisscross the kindling above the tinder. This method is used to make a longer-lasting campfire.
Teepee-arrange the kindling above the tinder as if you are building a tent. This is used to make a campfire for cooking.
Lighting your campfire
Light the tinder using a lighter or match. Throw the used match in the fire. As the fire continues to grow, add more tinder while blowing at the base. Add kindling and fuel wood to keep your fire burning steadily. Just be sure to keep the fire under control and manageable.
How to maintain your campfire
Once your fire is stronger, add bigger pieces of dry logs to keep the fire burning steadily. In the meantime, be sure to supervise children and pets when they are near the fire.
How to put out your campfire
Before you begin to put out the fire and retire for the night, let the wood burn completely to ashes, if possible. Pour plenty of water on your fire and stir those embers and ashes with a shovel so that everything is soaked.
In case you don’t have water nearby, use sand or dirt.
NOTE: Since it is likely that your campfire will keep on smoldering, never try to bury a campfire. Rather, make sure you mix a heap of sand or dirt with embers until they’re completely extinguished.
All in all, making a campfire is a basic skill that any regular camper should have. Follow the above guidelines on how to make a campfire and build something to enjoy with your friends. Then gather around on a dark, starlit night and enjoy your campfire experience.