1/30/2019 9:10:16 AM

Every good campout deserves a good campfire. This can be an intimidating task for some, but it does not require you to be an Eagle Scout. Being able to construct a campfire is not only great skill to keep you and your loved ones warm while visiting a state park on a cold winter night, but it is also an essential survival skill. Consider these basic steps and you will be able to build a teepee style campfire quickly and efficiently.

First off, make sure campfires are permitted where you are camping and make sure that you are allowed to gather your own firewood. If you are visiting a state park, check park regulations ahead of time or check with a state park employee.

When looking for firewood, seek out three types: tinder, kindling, and fuel wood. The drier the wood, the better.

  • Tinder consists of small twigs and dry grasses, no thicker than a match. These small materials burn easily and are essential to starting your campfire. One of the best places to find small twigs is at the base of trees. Wood shavings can also be used for tinder. You will want enough to fill a circle made with both of your hands.
  • Kindling consists of sticks, larger than tinder, but typically no thicker than your thumb. This wood takes a bit more encouragement to burn. You will want a generous armload or more.
  • Fuelwood consists of fallen logs and tree limbs. Usually, there is no need to chop down a tree for firewood and not something permitted at a state park. Split logs burn best. You will want to gather a stack about as high as your knee to last the night.

Make sure your campsite has a place for the fire. Often a campsite will have a steel fire ring or you will see previous campers have created a stone ring or pit for the fire. If there is not a designated area, pick a spot, preferably on bare dirt with no overhanging branches. Clear the surrounding area free of flammable materials.

To build your campfire, bundle up your tinder place it in the center of the fire pit. This is going to be the foundation to get your fire started. Next, place the kindling in a teepee shape around your tinder, leaving openings for air. Remember, the thinner the wood, the faster it will burn. Piling on wood that is too thick too soon is one of the major reasons fires fail.

Once you have your teepee shape set up, you can now start your fire. Carefully light a fire under the tinder using a match or a lighter. Often, this may take a few tries and the realization that you might not have enough tinder. Lightly blowing on burning tinder can also help get the fire started. Once the fire finally starts growing and your kindling catches fire, add more kindling as needed. When the kindling begins to burn easily, add your fuelwood. Once the fuelwood burns you can finally sit back, relax, and enjoy s’mores with your friends and family, at least until the fire needs more fuelwood.

Never leave a campfire unattended.

Extinguish campfires by pouring water on them, string the ashes, and applying more water. Repeat this as many times as possible. No heat means the fire is extinguished.

Find a place to camp near you at

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