How to Build a Campfire in 5 Easy Steps

How to build a campfire is a lot easier than many people think.

By Shelby Kisgen

Follow these steps and you can’t go wrong…

Tool Time: First, before you even head out to camp, pick the right tools to start your fire. If you are bad at lighting matches (remember to buy waterproof), take a handheld lighter. If you are worried about getting the fire to catch, take a pack of fire sticks; these are highly flammable, waterproof sticks that burn for a long time at high heat. They can be found in most store’s camping sections. Store your fire starting tools in a waterproof case or sealed baggy to prevent moisture or spills. Remember, two is better than one. Never skimp on fire-starting tools. Lighters break, matches are lost. Bring a back-up set of whatever method you choose.

Location: Remember that fire safety is of the utmost importance. Pick a location that is sheltered from the wind to prevent too much spark jumping. Do not build a fire in the midst of dead trees or grass, as they are highly flammable. The more alive the vegetation, the slower they catch fire. Make a ring of rocks to give a visual marker for the fire. This mentally shows you where the fire should be, and leads to immediate action if the fire leaves its designated area. Rocks are also not flammable, so that helps to keep it from spreading to leaves and twigs beyond the reach of the rocks.

Stockpile: One of the worst feelings in the camping world is to spend the time to build a beautiful little flame, and then let it starve and die. Make sure you have enough matches or lighters, sticks, leaves, and wood on hand to not just build the fire but maintain it. Do not pick wet, soggy, green, living or mouldy wood. Find dead, dry sources for the best fire.

Pick the Fuel: You need three types of flammable materials: tinder and kindling to get the fire started, and wood to keep it going. Tinder should be thin and highly flammable; this lights a fire quickly. Kindling should be thinner twigs and sticks. The wood is harder to get going but keeps the heat and burns for a long time. Good tinder options are leaves, pine needles, scraps of newspaper or journal paper, and even a marshmallow if you have trouble lighting the pile of lighter stuff. Tinder will smoke and burn out quickly, so have enough of it on hand to keep “feeding” the fire. Gradually add the kindling: smaller stickers and twigs onto the pile to get a longer-lasting burn. Do not pile huge pieces of wood atop a small pile of kindling; the fire will be snuffed out from lack of oxygen.

Think Teepee: When you are arranging your campfire, start with a base or pile of tinder. Arrange twigs and sticks on top of your flammable base. Then arrange the wood in the form of a teepee. Angle the logs so that the logs reach a point over the top of the kindling. This will allow oxygen to flow over the inside of the fire and keep it from snuffing out. It also allows the hot kindling to catch the twigs to catch the bellies of the bigger logs to create a lasting burn. As the logs collapse from burning, add more on top to keep the teepee growing.

Well, when it comes to how to build a campfire, you have done it! You have created a beautiful campfire, but now you must feed it. Keep a stack of wood on hand and a small pile of kindling and tinder. If the fire burns low or cools, add some twigs to revitalize the flames and then more wood. Enjoy your cozy masterpiece, the scent of pinewood burning, and pat yourself on the back, you fire-lady.

Check out this video on how to build a campfire from an expert…

 

Blogger & Multiple Contributor at

Shelby Kisgen is an experienced camper and hiker from Wyoming, USA.  She is a true nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing her experiences through freelance writing in her first blog: naturepreserve.me

When she is not enjoying the great outdoors she is duelling her husband in tennis, eating, or reading a book.

Shelby was the first of many to write articles for the Camping for Women website.

She just loves to combine her love of the outdoors with her passion for writing.  Her current blog is https://shelbykisgen.com/

9 thoughts on “How to Build a Campfire in 5 Easy Steps

  • February 19, 2020 at 8:02 pm
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    This brought back so many memories of Girl Scouts! I have not heard of fire sticks, what a brilliant invention! Using a marshmallow is pretty smart too, except I wouldn’t want to wastes those lol

    Reply
  • February 19, 2020 at 9:28 am
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    This is helpful post since I could never make it. Sometimes it comes to the point which materials we should use. Nevertheless, it is always the job for my son and my husband.

    Reply
  • February 19, 2020 at 5:49 am
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    Great tips! As being in nature, this has always been a struggle for me. I am fine with the fire place at our cottage but being outside with the wind, that’s a different story. We are planning to do some camping again this year, so this helps a lot.

    Reply
  • February 18, 2020 at 1:43 pm
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    I keep learning so much about camping by just reading your posts. Nice to know this time about lighting bonfires which is at the heart of any camping with family and friends.

    Reply
  • February 18, 2020 at 7:19 am
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    We camp from time to time, especially in the summer or on our Asia trip. My husband usually did the work (making fire), and I helped collect dry woods and branches. Your easy steps are so helpful and seem easy to follow. Next time, I will be the one who makes the campfire with your five easy steps to build a campfire.

    Reply
  • February 18, 2020 at 2:37 am
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    I have just opened up to the idea of camping and this post is so useful. The tip about getting two of everything is great. The fire sticks seem like a good idea for a beginner like me. I feel once you started a fire and keeping it going is the most difficult part about camping.

    Reply
  • February 18, 2020 at 2:15 am
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    It is a very practical and helpful campers guide. Several times I had a problem with lighting campfire. Unfortunately, the problem was always too wet wood or heavy rain. So I like your tips.

    Reply
  • February 17, 2020 at 11:17 pm
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    It is a good reminder to tell people not to skimp on packing fire starting supplies. And packing them right. Keeping it going is often the challenge. I build a great teepee and get a good first blaze. But am always surprised at how quickly that burns down. Laying out a stone circle is a good idea to delineate the fire. But that still means you need to make sure it is totally out before you break camp.

    Reply
  • February 17, 2020 at 1:22 pm
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    This is so helpful to know, even though I’m not a camper! I really never knew how to start one, and it’s just good to know this because you just never know! Making a ring of rocks around the fire is an excellent tip.

    Reply

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