Man and fire have always had a primal bond. Forever, fire has provided heat and protection. Although fire isn’t as necessary as it used to be for survival, when you are in the great outdoors, it’s essential to know how to build a campfire.
If you’re without a stove and stranded, then fire again can help you survive. Boiling water to kill germs or keeping warm and drying clothes can stop you from getting hyperthermia.
In our guide, you can learn the most effective ways how to build a campfire. By the end, you’ll know the types of fires you can build and how to make the best use of your kindling and firewood. (Read Fun Things To Do While Camping)
What Are the 4 Ways of Building a Campfire?
Here you can find the four most common variations of small campfire you can use as the base for a bigger fire or use each method under control for no trace camping where you hide the traces completely so no one could tell you were there.
Besides this, no matter the type of fire, never leave the site or campfires burning on the ground unattended for safety.
Log Cabin Fire
If you are cooking rather than keeping warm, this is the most effective method.
A log cabin campfire is made with the same process as a log cabin where it gets its name. When making this fire, you get your kindling lit and stack larger firewood around it.
- Position two pieces of wood of equal size parallel to each other and alongside the burning kindling. Place the next two on these sideways to form a box.
- Carry on stacking, so you have four layers high.
For cooking, this fire is great as the larger top logs can support your pot or kettle. Unlike other fires, this is a slow burner, which is better for cooking food. One downside is that it’s hard to start, unlike other types of fires. It is possible to start with a small teepee fire in the center and build your log cabin around the outside.
You can overcome this by building a tepee fire in the middle and then building a log cabin around it. (Learn How To Keep Food Cold Camping)
The Teepee is the most basic campfire setup. They are simple to build and burn as long as you keep adding more fuel. To make a Teepee, place your tinder bundle in the fire pit and then lean small pieces of kindling against each in the shape of a tent.
Leave sufficient gaps for air to get to the tinder and enable you to light the fire. After adding more layers of larger kindling to your Teepee, you can light your campfire.
Reach in through the door you left and light the tinder using your chosen fire starter. If you have trouble lighting the tinder inside, you can take it out and use a flint before placing it back underneath the kindling for it to catch fire.
A Teepee works by driving tinder flames upward into your kindling and fuel wood, where they ignite the remainder of the campfire. The Teepee is so simple; it is often used to get other campfire versions going.
If there are gusts of winds, you need a fire that can withstand them. The lean-to fire can do this. To build, you place your branches and sticks onto a larger log or one long piece of kindling rather than onto each other.
All you must do is decide which direction the wind is coming from and place the largest piece of firewood perpendicular to this.
You will start your campfire on the downwind side of your chosen log. Add pieces of kindling wood and small twigs next to it before lighting your tinder bundle.
By doing this, you can stop the wind blowing out your fire or even blowing embers across where you are sitting. (Read About Truck Bed Camping)
The fuel wood or larger branches will lean across the top of the log above your tinder, kindling and other dry materials. By the time the large log has set on fire, once you get the fire going, it can fight off the effects of the wind.
There are times you may be located where there isn’t an enormous amount of fuel wood, or you’re making a fire for shelter. In these instances, you need something small. A star fire can be ideal as there is a small flame, and it burns slowly so as not to use fuel too fast.
To make sure you can get your kindling going, place the ends of several logs in your fire. Once your logs burn, you can push them further into the fire.
You will find this type of fire doesn’t produce a fire where flames wrap around you, and you may need to sit a little closer.
What is the Best Way to Build a Campfire?
Another campfire lay for cooking as it takes the log cabin and flips it. It doesn’t start with a teepee either.
- Take your three larger pieces of logs and lay them next to each other.
- Place three more logs on top of the first three in opposite directions and continue adding upward.
- Build your teepee on top of the platform, add kindling and then light the tinder inside the teepee.
- You can find this campfire lay tough to start, yet it makes a great bed of coals and ashes to cook on.
What Do I Need for Campfire?
Before camping and building a campfire, make sure you pack things needed to make a fire. Even if you have a stove, you should never rely on this.
Check with the park or campground before you gather campfire materials on your campsite. Some locations can prohibit campers foraging for firewood, tinder and kindling to protect the environment.
Tinder is small materials used to build a campfire:
- Cardboard or paper
- Wood shavings or wood chips
- Dryer lint
- Needles, leaves or grass (need to be dry)
- Commercial fire starters
Kindling is larger but still smaller than the larger fuelwood. Small twigs or branches are common for this. If it is too thick, you’ll find it puts your fire out rather than burning.
Firewood is the main fuel of your fire, and it needs to be dry. Some woods are better than others, yet you may not find some of these woods based on where you are camping.
- Oak is long-lasting and delivers a hot fire with few sparks.
- Beech firewood can burn hot and last ages, yet it needs a long time to season. You may find it, yet it isn’t suitable.
- Maple is dense and hard and can produce long-burning campfires that offer high heat output.
- Birch is soft and burns fast, yet it burns hot.
Matches and lighters may be easy, yet get them wet, and they are useless. Flint and steel and other survival fire starters are all suitable for lighting a campfire in all weathers.
How Do You Make a Campfire Step by Step?
Once you have prepared your pit, it’s time for you to build your campfire.
Here are the steps to build a fire for all your warmth and cooking needs.
Make sure to have a source of water, a bucket of dirt, and a shovel handy in case you need to extinguish the fire. (Find the Best 3 Burner Camp Stove)
Gather three kinds of wood from around your campground.
Never use live wood as these materials won’t burn. Also, never cut a full dead tree as they are often homes for birds and wildlife.
- Tinder: Consists of small twigs, dry leaves, wood shavings, pine needles, and dried grass.
- Kindling: Made up from sticks smaller than 1″
- Fuel Wood: You find these are your larger pieces of wood. Keep these away from your fire as it burns. You’ll often find these around 4 inches in diameter.
- Pile small handfuls of tinder in the center of your fire pit.
- Ignite the tinder using matches, a lighter, or other fire starting method.
- Discard any matches into the fire.
- Add tinder as your fire grows.
- Gently blow on the base of the fire to add oxygen.
- Continue to add smaller pieces of kindling and larger pieces of wood to keep your fire burning.
- Keep your fire small and under control.