How to Start a Campfire - Backyard Boss
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How to Start a Campfire

Knowing how to build a campfire is one of the best skills a person can have. Not only will it make you the hero of the backyard camp out, but it can also be an excellent survival skill should the need ever come up. It may seem easy to start a fire but starting one that will burn for longer and stay lit is more of a challenge. Setting it up correctly will make it much more likely that you can enjoy your campfire for longer.

In this article, we have put together a step-by-step guide to starting a campfire that won’t fizzle out. By following all the steps and making sure that you set everything up properly, you can be sure that you will have warmth and light when you need it the most.

What You’ll Need

There are a few things you will need to be able to get a resilient campfire going. Most of your fuel can be gathered in the woods near a campsite, but if you plan, you can bring it with you and be ready in no time without worrying about wet wood.

  • Tinder: Newspaper, cardboard, dry leaves, wood shavings, or cotton balls, and dryer lint
  • Kindling: Small pieces of wood or larger sticks
  • Firewood: Whole logs or large pieces of wood
  • Firestarters: Matches or lighter

Step-By-Step Guide On How To Start A Campfire

Step 1: Find a Spot

Brick Fire Pit
Image credits:
Tirza van Dijk via Unsplash

One of the first things you should think about when starting a campfire is whether or not fires are allowed where you are. Some areas have strict burn bans, and if a ranger catches you with a fire where you shouldn’t have one, you could rack up a hefty fine. If you’re sure that fires are allowed, make sure you have about 10 feet of dirt around your fire ring.

Also, be certain that there aren’t any branches or shrubs nearby that could potentially catch when you start your fire. It is always a good idea to have a shovel and some water nearby, so you can put your campfire out quickly if you have to.

Step 2: Build Your Fire Formation

Carrying Firewood
Image credits: Josh Clemence via Unsplash

After you have done all of your safety checks, you are ready to build your fire formation. There are quite a few different formations, but the most common one is the teepee formation. It is called like this because you will be setting up your kindling in a pyramid and setting your firewood on top of that in the same shape.

Place your tinder on the ground in a slightly triangular shape. Then, place your pieces of kindling in a teepee and your heavier logs and larger pieces of dry wood in a teepee over that. The idea is that as each successive fuel light, it will light the next one up until you have a full-on raging fire. Always remember that fire will burn upwards, so you must set up your formation to take advantage of this. It is also a great formation for cooking since it will give you a place to set your pan or griddle.

Step 3: Light the Fire

Lighting a Camp Fire
Image credits:
Sebastian Pociecha via Unsplash

Now that your fire formation is built, you can light it. Using a lighter or matches, light the tinder in the middle of the teepee formation. It is always best to light it from all different sides. It will give the pieces of kindling a better chance at lighting and burning evenly.

As you light your tinder, blow gently on the teepee formation. Fire needs oxygen to burn, and underneath the teepee, it could have a slightly hard time getting enough. Blowing on it will feed it enough to consistently burn.

Step 4: Put out Your Fire

Dwindling Fire
Image credits: Wil Stewart via Unsplash

After you are done with your fire, it is extremely important that you properly extinguish it. If you are camping, do not go to bed without putting your campfire out all the way. Fire can be unpredictable, and it is your responsibility to use it safely.

When you are ready to put your fire out, start by sprinkling water on it. Don’t flood the fire circle because that could ruin it for the next person who wants to use it. Keep sprinkling water on the fire until you stop hearing crackling or hissing. Then, with the back of your hand, feel a few inches above the coals. If it doesn’t feel hot anymore, your fire is out, and you can safely leave it.

Start a Campfire for Cooking or Warmth

Being able to set the campfire up and put it out properly is crucial. One of the basic outdoor skills is fire starting, and knowing what you need to do to stay warm and dry will make your camping trip a lot more fun.

Once you get the hang of starting campfires, you can then start bringing your preferred tinders or your firewood. Your personal preferences will help to make camp easier and more efficient.

Do you have a method of starting a campfire that you love? Let us know about it in the comment section below!