How To Build A Basic Campfire

One of the most important and rewarding elements of a camping trip is the campfire.

By Justin Brouillard, & Jimmy Kennedy
Cook Ambassadors

One of the most important and rewarding elements of a camping trip is the campfire. It not only serves as your cooking source, but it is typically the main gathering place as well. Sitting around a campfire at night while watching embers burn and telling stories goes back many, many years and will always be a valuable outdoor necessity and time-honored tradition.

There are several things that need to be considered before building an outdoor fire. First and foremost is safety. Make sure that there is no chance whatsoever of the fire spreading. The fire must be well-attended and in control at all times. Also, make sure that the fire is completely out and cold before you leave the campsite.

To build your fire, bunch the tinder up and surround it with the kindling. You can do this in a teepee type, lean-to or simple criss cross formation. The idea is to light the tinder, have it start the kindling to burn and have enough air to keep the fire going. Once the kindling has caught, add a little more, and then add the fuel wood until you have the size of fire you want or need. Keep plenty of dry wood on hand to keep the fire going.

For the fire:

  • Tinder is basically the fire starter. This can be anything from small pieces of dry bark, wood shavings, dry weed tops, cattails, milkweed or even recycled egg cartons.
  • Kindling is small dry pieces of wood to add to the tinder. Dead twigs and small branches that can be easily snapped make great kindling. Think the size of a pencil or a little larger.
  • Fuel wood is the larger pieces of wood that will be the main source once the fire is going. Depending on where you are camping, it can be fireplace or stove wood that you brought from home, wood you purchase from the campground or larger pieces that you source from a remote camping site. Also, there’s no shame in adding charcoal briquettes to a fire to help with the cooking process if need be.
  • Use rocks, when possible and needed, for safety and for support of pots and pans.
  • Always have more wood than you think you’ll need.
  • Protect the wood you have brought or gathered from getting wet with a tarp, under a tree or camper, etc.

Go camping, build a fire, cook and tell stories.

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