How to Build a Campfire

Camping just isn’t camping without a campfire. The smell, the warmth, the dancing flames, the crackle, the glowing coals, the taste of campfire cooked meals, the friends, the songs, the stories, the sound of crickets and of course the yummy smores. Campfires provide a connection with nature, a time of reflection and a feeling of peace.

Enjoy your next campfire!

  • Clear area of all debris/avoid area with overhanging branches
  • Construct a fire ring surrounded by rocks
  • Have a bucket of water, shovel and a fire extinguisher nearby and ready to put out a fire
  • Gather wood and stack in separate piles away from fire area. Do not use green or freshly cut wood.
    • There are three different kinds of wood needed for a successful campfire
      • Tinder – small twigs, wood shavings, dry leaves or grass, dry needles, bark or dryer lint. This should start to burn immediately with a lighted match.
      • Kindling – small sticks 1″ around or less
      • Fuel – larger wood that keeps the fire going
  • Elements required for a fire to burn properly. When one of these three things are removed, the fire stops burning. Example – Water cools fuel below ignition point, dirt cuts off the oxygen supply.
    • Fuel- material that will burn
    • Heat – enough heat to bring fuel to ignition
    • Air – to provide oxygen to burning process
  • Start with a couple hands full of tinder loosely piled in the center of your fire ring.
  • With your back to the wind and match protected by the cup of your hand, ignite tinder with a match. Discard used match into the fire.
  • Slowly add more tinder. You may need to blow softly at the base of the fire.
  • Once the tinder has fully started to burn, slowly add some smaller pieces of kindling. Keep close together but allow space for air.
  • Gradually increase the size of the kindling you add to the fire.
  • When you have a good fire going , add the fuel one piece at a time as described below. Allow for adequate air flow.
  • Types of Fires
    • Tepee Fire – good for quick cooking since the heat is concentrated in one spot. Lay the fuel over your kindling like a tepee.
    • Crisscross Fire – good for a long lasting fire with a lot of coals. Excellent for a campfire. Lay the fuel over the kindling in a crisscross pattern.
  • Safety with Fire
    • NEVER build a fire near tents or other flammable items.
    • NEVER use flammable fluids to start a fire.
    • NEVER leave fire unattended.
    • Build a fire only as big as you need.
    • Make sure to completely extinguish fire.
      • Scatter ashes or embers out.
      • Sprinkle with water. Stir with a stick. Repeat.
      • Drench charred logs.
      • Repeat until everything is cold.
  • Check out the Smokey Bear website
  • Check out these Home-made Firestarters

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