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How to Build a Campfire: Step-by-Step

Starting a bonfire is one of those skills you want to have when you go camping as campfires are epic
Starting a bonfire is one of those skills you want to have when you go camping as campfires are epic

The best camping trips involve a campfire.

Just ask your camper friends if you don’t believe us.

If you know this and enjoy going camping, why would you not want to learn how to build one?

It’s relatively easy to do and it will take your trip to the next level.

What are you waiting for?

A Step-by-Step Guide to Build a Campfire

Step by step you'll get there (this is not just about building campfires)
Step by step you’ll get there (this is not just about building campfires)

Step 1: Choose the Best Location

The place you choose for your campfire will affect how well it turns out, so it’s worth investing some time making the right choice.

Choose a location that is clear of any trees, shrubs, or other possible hazards to the fire.

This ensures that you & your group can enjoy the campfire without worrying about getting wounded.

In our opinion, the best locations have no combustible obstructions to the fire, such as dry grass or low-hanging branches.

Keep a safe distance from you tent and other camping equipment to be on the safe side.

Step 2: Gather Materials

To build a campfire, gather dry leaves, twigs, tiny sticks, bigger logs, and fire-starting equipment like matches or a lighter, and always have a pail of water or a fire extinguisher closeby. 

You never know what can happen, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Step 3: Prepare the Surface

This is how clean you should aim for
This is how clean you should aim for

The first step is to ensure that the ground around the fire has no combustible objects or rubbish before you light your fuel for your campfire.

Once you’ve cleaned the surface, you can start.

Dig a small hole in the ground and place the campfire within it so that when the fire grows, it is confined.

Step 4: Set the Kindling out

Now the you have the hole in the ground for your fire, the next step is to put some newspaper or a small mound of dry leaves in the fire pit.

You can also use twigs and tiny sticks to create a cone-shaped enclosure around it.

This is arguably the best setup to have your fire start burning. 

Step 5: Light the Fire

You can have a great time by the campfire in a family or a romantic trip
You can have a great time by the campfire in a family or a romantic trip

It’s time to light your fire!

Gently lit the kindling from the cone’s base using either matches or a lighter.

To prevent the smoke from blowing right into your face (which is very annoying), position yourself upwind.

Step 6: Add Bigger Sticks

Add bigger sticks and pieces of wood to the fire gradually as the kindling ignites and the fire starts burning steadily.

These will act as fuel supply and will keep the campfire burning bright all night.

Pro tip: be careful not to put out the fire accidentally.

This happens way more than you think.

Step 7: Build the Fire Barrier

A fire ring is great to control the fire
A fire ring is great to control the fire

Lean bigger logs against one another around the teepee fire once the open flames are hot and steady, and make a fire barrier around the cone fire pit using boulders or a dirt ring to stop the fire from spreading outside the campfire area.

Remember that safety comes first, so don’t let your children get too close to the existing fire ring.

Step 8: Keep the Fire Going

Make sure you keep adding wood to ensure that the fire burns consistently and doesn’t need more fuel supply.

Also.

Never leave your campfire unattended, and keep it at a controllable size.

We’ve heard of people having to call the firemen because their fires got out of control.

Be careful: you’re literally playing with fire.

Step 9: Cooking Campfire Food

Roasting marshmallows on a bonfire never disappoints
Roasting marshmallows on a bonfire never disappoints

Want to do more than talk by the campfire?

Cook.

First, you wait until the embers are hot enough.

When you get there, place cookware with a grill or long sticks above the larger wood fire pieces.

Then just place your food on the cookware and let it grill!

We’re writing a more complete article on camping meals, in case you’re interested in the topic, and will place the link to it here.

Step 10: Put Out the Fire Safely

Last but not least, you must extinguish the fire before leaving or going to bed.

When everything around the star fire is ice cold to the touch, add water to the coals and stir the ashes to ensure that no hot spots are left.

Tips for a Successful Campfire

Put in the time learning how to build a campfire - they're beautiful
Put in the time learning how to build a campfire – they’re beautiful

Gather Dry Firewood

It is much simpler to start a fire with dry pieces of wood only, and the flames produce significantly intense heat and less smoke than a fire that grows on wet lumber.

Look for fallen branches or seasoned dry wood for a cleaner burn.

Use Artificial Fire-Starters Minimally

Pine needles are a great fire starter - use them!
Pine needles are a great fire starter – use them!

Dry grass, pine needles, and birch bark are some good natural alternatives to matches and lighters that can be used to start a fire if you do not have access to either.

They are quite effective, so don’t be shy and use them.

Put the Leave No Trace Principles Into Action

You know our position.

If you’re camping, you need to respect the Leave No Trace Principles:

  • Make sure you never leave a fire ring or any sign of your presence behind and always pick up after yourself

  • Leave the campground in the same condition as when you arrived, even if there is evidence of the fire you started

  • Before you leave for your camping trip, it is essential to ensure that there are no fire bans or restrictions on lighting fires in the area where you plan to stay.

    • As a result of the dry weather, there may be seasonal restrictions placed on fire burning and the use of campfires in some areas to avoid wildfires, and you need to be aware of these

Maintain a Safe Distance

When the campfire is lit, always keep a safe distance from it
When the campfire is lit, always keep a safe distance from it

And don’t forget to avoid wearing sloppy clothes that have a chance of catching fire by accident.

Conclusion

Learning how to build a campfire is essential for anyone who enjoys spending time outside and going on camping trips.

By paying attention to the firewood safety and tips, you can build a log cabin fire that will provide you with warmth and light, and will give you priceless memories.

Most importantly, your ability to catch fire will impress your friends and family!