Camping is just not the same unless there is a fire burning. It is where you gather to tell stories, toast marshmallows and build great memories with friends and family. A campfire can also be used to scare nocturnal visitors away, along with any lingering fears of the dark. Before you light just any conveniently placed pile of wood there are a few things you need to consider to ensure that your campfire is safe and enjoyable, and not a danger to yourself or the environment.
Tips on starting a campfire
The first and most important aspect to consider is where you are going to build your fire. Some established campsites come with a marked fire ring or pit, but if you are in a more remote location it will be up to you to use your common sense. Obviously you want to find a flat, dry area that is well away from your truck tent and the rest of your gear. Even if you are lucky enough to own a tent that is flame resistant this doesn’t mean that it can’t catch on fire. Not only can truck tents be expensive to replace, it is simply dangerous to have any type of material that close to an open flame.
If you have planned ahead and brought your own firewood then you are ready to start arranging it in a pile, but if you are gathering it on site there are a few things you will want to look for. The kindling should be dry and gathered off of the ground, and it should also not be wider than the size of a standard adult wrist. Once you have the wood in place here are a few quick tips on how to place it for a long burning campfire.
There are three main styles of campfires, teepee, log cabin and upside-down.
Teepee: Arrange the smaller pieces of kindling so they make a cone shape structure and once it is steadily burning add the larger pieces of wood one at a time as needed.
Log cabin: Take two of the larger pieces of wood and lay them parallel to each other with a little space in between. Next use two smaller pieces to form a square on top and fill the center with kindling. Keep building “squares” on top of each other, each one smaller than the other, filling the center as you go. The space in between the logs is important to ensure the fire gets plenty of oxygen, and the top layer of loose kindling will help to keep it going.
Upside-down: This is similar to the “log cabin” style campfire except the base uses three or four of the largest logs that are laid down side by side. The additional layers are constructed out of smaller logs, and the top should have the kindling laid across it.
Once you have built the fire it is time to light it, and every camper should have a pack of waterproof matches. It is also extremely important that you make sure that the fire is completely extinguished before you leave the area or else you could be responsible for creating a devastating wildfire. The best method is to continuously pour water on the embers and ashes until they are cool, and some experience campers also cover the remains with dry sand or dirt as an added precaution.