With summer in full swing, the timing has never been better to enjoy a night around a campfire. The flames of a roaring fire can inspire storytelling, great conversations, music, and memories you’ll treasure forever – not to mention a way to cook your delicious camping food.
However, if you’re a first time camper, you might not know where to begin when it comes to building a fire. This is an essential skill for any keen camper, so here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get those embers burning.
Gather your materials
You’ll need three basic materials to build a campfire: tinder, kindling and fuel wood.
Tinder: you can buy tinder from a store in the form of dry lint or char cloth, so you may want to add this to your camping checklist. Alternatively, you can use natural materials like dry leaves, grass and wood shavings. Just bear in mind that if it’s been raining or the tinder is damp, then it won’t catch fire.
Kindling: tinder is great for starting your fire, but it burns quickly, so you need something else to keep your campfire aflame. This is where kindling comes in, in the form of small twigs and branches. Again, go for dry materials and opt for twigs that will break and snap easily.
Fuelwood: next is the fuelwood, which will keep your fire burning. You don’t have to choose big logs, but you do need substantial pieces of wood, though try to avoid anything that bends easily, or is too wet, as this will create a lot of smoke.
Create the fire bed
Before you start your fire, you need to clear the area of any flammables and build your fire bed. Select a site with bare earth rather than grass, away from trees, bushes and – of course – your tent.
If you can’t find a bare patch of ground, you can make your own by digging into the soil and raking away any plant material. Once that’s done, gather some dirt back into the “bed” and use it to build a platform about 3-4 inches thick.
Lay your fire
When you have all your materials to hand and your fire bed is ready, it’s time to lay your fire. There are many different ways of doing this, but for now, we’ll keep it simple and use the teepee method.
- Place your tinder bundle in the center of your fire bed
- Form a teepee with some of your kindling, leaving an opening on the wide the wind is blowing against
- Add more kindling, working your way up to bigger twigs
- Create a larger teepee structure around your kindling with your fuelwood
- Place a match under your teepee to light the fire
- When the teepee falls, add more logs or fuelwood to keep the fire burning
Enjoy your fire!
Whether you are a frequent or occasional camper, the experience would not be complete without a traditional campfire.
Remember, it can take up to 20 minutes to put out your fire completely, and you should always have a bucket of water on your campsite for safety reasons. It’s polite to leave your campsite the way you found it, so once you’re done with your fire, make sure you dispose of the ashes by spreading them out across the campsite and replace the soil and soot you dug up.