How to Build a Fireplace in the Wilderness

How to Build a Fireplace in the WildernessBuilding a successful campfire can be a daunting task and keeping it lit can be even more nerve racking. But when you are camping out in the wilderness, fire is a necessity. If you have settled into a wilderness campsite that has no existing fire ring, a handmade fireplace is the next best thing.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fist-sized stones
  • Kindling
  • Large sticks
  • Small sticks
  • Large chunks of wood
  • Fire starter
  • Container of water
Step 1
Collect fist-sized stones for your wilderness fireplace. The stones will keep the fire off of the ground and help to prevent burning any tree roots that may be underneath. Excessive heat can damage the roots and eventually kill the surrounding trees.
Step 2
Clear out any small stones or brush lying on the ground within a five foot area of your tent. This will ensure that embers from your fire will not land on random pieces of brush that can eventually ignite your camp. Keep in mind that your fireplace should also be built about five feet from your tent and camping equipment as a precautionary measure.
Step 3
Create the base of the fireplace by forming a circle with the stones approximately two feet in diameter. Tightly, fill the circle with the remaining stones, making sure that there are no large gaps in between.
Step 4
Gather wood and kindling to build the body of your fireplace. You will need to collect kindling, large pieces of wood and sticks. Kindling consists of dried twigs, pine needles, bark, wood shavings and dry grass. Try and gather small sticks that are about 12 inches long and larger sticks approximately 18 to 24 inches long. If necessary, break up oversize sticks to meet these requirements. Also collect large pieces of dried wood.
Step 5
Press the kindling into a grapefruit-sized ball with your hands and place it in the center of the fireplace base. Form a tepee around the kindling using the smaller group of sticks. The teepee can be created by standing the small sticks up at a 45-degree angle and leaning them against each other in an upright triangular formation. Leave some gaps in between the sticks for air circulation.
Step 6
Create a second tepee around the first using your larger sticks. Leave some gaps in between the first teepee and the second surrounding tepee, for proper air circulation. Rest a few of the large chunks of wood up against the second tepee. The larger pieces of wood are what is going to make the fire burn longer.
Step 7
Light the kindling using the fire starter of your choice. Flint works well, so does FireSteel. But ordinary matches or a cigarette lighter will work just as well. You will need to carefully reach in between the two tepees with a lighter or lit stick to light the kindling. Continue adding twigs, sticks and larger pieces of wood whenever necessary to keep the fire lit.

Tips & Warnings

Gently blowing on the fire as you light it will help get the fire going.
Keep the fire in your wilderness fireplace a manageable size. There is no need to erect a raging beacon of flames to keep warm. A smaller, controlled burn is safer and will keep you nice and toasty.
Always keep a container full of water near your campsite in case you have to put the fire out in a hurry.
Never leave your fireplace unattended when there is a fire burning. Brush and trees can ignite quickly and it is important that you are there to see that the fire does not grow to that point. If you do leave the campsite it is important that your fireplace is completely cooled before you go.

Article Written By Eleanor Jewell

Eleanor Jewell started writing in 2007. She also has a background as a licensed cosmetologist and certified skin-care specialist. Jewell is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in education and a teacher certification.

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