A blazing campfire is a defining feature of a night out in the woods or desert. Countless methods exist for starting and maintaining a fire, but whatever your personal style, your main considerations should be building a fire using minimal effort and resources (try to create a "one-match fire"), and keeping the environmental impact of your fire low. Poorly attended campfires can quickly spread out of control, and they give all campers a bad name, so make sure you're in command at all times.
Tips & Warnings
Careful campers can bank a fire by allowing it to reduce to coals, spreading these in a thin layer, and then laying large logs across in tight configuration. The logs will feed the embers while preventing a conflagration, and you'll be able to restart the fire without much effort.
Although campfires have aesthetic and practical appeal, they alter the landscape. If you can do without one, use an alternative method of cooking (for example, a camp stove) to minimize your impact.
Always double check local regulations. For example, limited gathering of downed wood is often permitted, but in some places, even the use of leaf litter and other tinder is prohibited. Fire restrictions are sometimes imposed in national and state parks and forests, and in refuges when the risk of wildfire is high (for example, in dry, hot, and windy conditions).
Don't build overly large fires, which are more difficult to control. Always keep water, sand and other dousing tools at hand throughout the fire-making process.
Construct campfires well away from tents, and keep an eye on errant sparks.
Article Written By Ethan Schowalter-Hay
Ethan Schowalter-Hay is a writer and naturalist living in Oregon. He has written for the "Observer," the Bureau of Land Management and various online publishers. He holds a Bachelor of Science in wildlife ecology and a graduate certificate in geographic information systems from the University of Wisconsin.