When it comes to camping, nothing beats sitting around a campfire. It is the best part of the experience. You sit around and gather up the warmth it has to offer. You snuggle, roast food, gaze at the stars, and tell stories, all while bonding with your friends. It is an enriching affair that you cannot get anywhere else. In this article, you will learn how to make a campfire.
Set the Groundwork
Before anything else, you must be sure to clear the ground area. Doing so guarantees safety. Nothing is worse than being the bozo to start another wildfire. Protect the natural world by removing any brush, leaves, or flammable material that could catch light by being next to your fire.
If you are in a camp ground, there is usually a designated area specifically for fires. Find one and make use of it. If that is unavailable, consider digging a hole. It helps to keep the fire contained. Your fire should be on bare earth. With the ground cleared, place a layer of dirt 3-4 inches thick. Your campfire will be on top of this.
No campfire is complete without firewood. It provides the foundation for the warmth and heat we are looking for. There are distinctions between different woods that need to be made.
Tinder is the wood that will catch light easily. It is the starter flame that will get your campfire really going. Ideal tinder is newspaper, dry leaves, grass, wood shavings, or lint. In short, it catches quick. If it is wet outside, you cannot find readily available tinder, so you must be sure to bring your own.
Kindling is the wood that transitions your small flame into the healthy fire we are aiming for. It provides the fuel for intermediary step from small flame to campfire. Usually, it is about the size of a small tree’s branches.
Firewood is your primary fuel. It is the foundation for a great campfire. Aim to gather wood that is about the diameter of your forearm or wrist. Massive logs do work, but they take a while to burn and catch light.
- Collect double what you need. Wood burns quickly, so do not be surprised when you run out. If you want your fire to last a long time, then bring plenty to keep it going.
- Dry wood burns the best. This is the kind of wood that snaps with ease. It does not bend, but cracks. Wet and/or green like wood will cause smoke. Firewood can be a little damp, but not too much so.
Placing Your Wood
There are a number of ways that you can arrange your camp fire wood. Each one brings its own benefits and drawbacks because, believe it or not, all campfires are not created equally.
- Tepee, this involves leaning kindling, firewood, and tinder up against itself to form a cone-shaped tepee. Below the top of your cone is where the core of your heat will be. You place tinder in the center, then kindling and then your firewood on the outside.
- Pyramid or log cabin, lay two pieces of firewood next to each other. Then lay two pieces of wood on top of those pieces perpendicular to the bottom logs. Then repeat the process for another pair. Two to three layers in this manner suffice. Place kindling and tinder in the center. As the fire burns, the top layers will fall into the core of heat.
- Lean – to, in a lean to, one piece of firewood lies on the ground. Pieces of kindling are laid on top of it. The pocket of space between the ground and wood is where your tinder will go. A lean to is perfect for small spaces and areas without much room.
Sparking Your Campfire
Once you have placed the wood, you are now ready to start your campfire. There are a number of ways that you can light your campfire.
- Use a lighter. This is one of the most common items you can find at a grocery store or gas station. With it, you can light your tinder in no time. It just requires a quick flick of the fingers. It is simple and easy.
- Matches are another excellent option. They come in a box that can be found near any checkout aisle.
- Flint and steel creates high heat sparks between metals. It involves striking a piece of carbon steel with flint. Aim for high quality ones you can get at your local hardware store to make great sparks.
- Friction with sticks. This technique is a bit more in depth and time-consuming. It involves a lot of patience and persistence. In essence, you rub sticks together at high friction to create heat.
Dousing Your Fire
After enjoying the warmth of your campfire, you must be sure to extinguish it. You do so for the enjoyment of the people who come after you. There are a number of techniques that you do to take care of it.
- Get a head start. When it comes to snuffing out your fire, it can take a lot more time than you think. Allow at least fifteen minutes to extinguish your flames.
- Grab a bucket of water. When putting out your flames, a bucket of water will be perfect for dousing it. Once you start, spread the water by sprinkling it. Use the water sparingly because someone will want to use it later and they do not want a damp fire bed.
- Use a stir stick. Have you ever stirred a cup of coffee? It is one of the best ways to cool it down. The technique is no different when it comes to your fire. Grab a stick and move the dirt and debris around. Doing so exposes more surface area to the colder air, cooling it down.
- Touch test. You know something is hot when you touch it. For taking care of your fire, the same technique applies. Lightly touch the leftover debris in a couple different places. It makes sure that, overall, your fire is completely cooled down.
- Take care of the ashes. After any fire, you want to remove the ashes. It gives the people who come after you the opportunity to enjoy what you did. Scoop ’em and spread ’em around the land. Ash is a great fertilizer.
- Leave it as you found it. People enjoy pristine areas. I know I do. As you finish up your clean up, take a second look to make sure you have not missed anything. When you take the bit of extra time to review your clean up, it demonstrates respect for the natural world.
A Final Word
By sitting around a campfire, you can appreciate the beauty of our natural world. You can gaze up at the night sky or have a personal conversation with a friend. Telling a story, reflecting on yourself through the flames, and eating a warm meal can all be done through the company of a campfire. Sit on your log and enjoy the dance of flames.
If you think I missed anything, have a thought, or a question, please be sure to comment below and make it known. I hope you make it a great day!