Tips for Starting a Campfire

Tips for Starting a CampfireStarting a campfire doesn't have to be a major chore. Using the proper safety precautions and knowing what kind of wood to burn can make starting a fire to cook on or to sit around quite easy. One of the most important things to remember is to always clear away any debris from where a fire is going to be started so as to avoid the fire spreading by accident. Once you have a safe place to build a fire, it's not hard to end up with a fire that will be burning brightly.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Matches
  • Tinder
  • Kindling
  • Dry wood
  • Water
Step 1
Collect all of the materials for your fire before trying to start it. Gather dried wood and stack it where the fire cannot jump to it but close enough so that it can be accessed quickly. Put tinder, newspapers and kindling next to the site of the fire. Campsites that are frequently used will have a short supply of available firewood nearby, so it may be prudent to bring firewood from home or travel a farther distance from the site in search of suitable wood. Never use green wood or cut down or break branches off living trees or shrubs for use in a fire.
Step 2
Determine the direction of the wind. Place your fire in a spot that will not allow the wind to blow the smoke and embers from the fire into your tents or sleeping bags. Use existing firepits at campsites or make a ring of decent-sized stones to contain your fire.
Step 3
Place the tinder in a compact bunch where you're going to start your fire. Bring such things as lint from your drier, wood shavings or strips of regular newspaper with you. Look around where your campsite is for old dried bird's nests or whittle small strips off dry twigs and sticks to create your own tinder. Gather the tinder in a small bunch and use it as the base for your fire.
Step 4
Place a number of smallish dry twigs over the tinder. This kindling will help keep the fire going once you light the tinder. Criss-cross the kindling on top of the tinder or lean it against the tinder in the shape of a teepee.
Step 5
Light the fire with a match or lighter with the wind at your back. Light the fire at the spot in the tinder closest to you so you can avoid being burned once the fire starts up. If it's windy, shield the tinder and kindling with your body or a jacket and light the fire. Always light the tinder from the bottom so that the flames will shoot up and engulf the kindling.
Step 6
Add larger sticks after the fire begins to burn the kindling. Don't put too many on at once; arrange them again in the same teepee shape around the burning fire. As the fire grows in strength, add more wood. If the fire is intended for cooking, once it's roaring lay larger sticks and pieces of wood on top of it. This will create a larger area of hot coals, which are ideal for cooking.

Tips & Warnings

Wood such as cedar, pine and fir are excellent fuel for fires if they are dry.
Always have enough water on hand to douse the fire if it begins to get out of control.

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