With this being our first blog post we figured it would be fitting to write about what most campers think of first when entering their campsite; the campfire. When setting up your campsite you have to put up your tents, chairs, lights, and sleeping bags but it is all centered around the campfire. The campfire is going to keep you warm, cook your food, and serve as the primary gathering place for everybody. With the it being such an important part of any camp it is crucial to know exactly how to set one up and even if you're a campfire expert you might learn something new in this beginners guide.
The first step in the fire building process is to be safe. You don’t want to be the one whose campfire gets out of control and burns down the entire forest. By practicing some of the following safety tips and using common sense you will be well on your way to building a great campfire.
- Always make sure you have a source of water and a shovel near by in case you find the need to extinguish the fire.
- Never leave your fire unattended
- Always use the designated fire area at campsites if they have one
- If no designated fire area exists try to choose an area away from trees, shrubs, and other flammable material, it is suggested to keep the fire at least 10-15 feet away from tents, trees and any other hazardous materials
- Make your fire bed on bare earth not grass, and if no surface like that exists dig out your own area.
- Never get to close to the fire, and always keep watch of younger children
- Finally check for any advisories in the area in case it is too dry or windy and where you are camping is restricting fires.
The next step in creating a great fire is gathering you fuel sources. You never want live material for your fire as it will not properly burn. What you should look for is dead material you can gather. Focus your efforts on obtaining these three main sources of fuel in order to create the best campfire possible: tinder, kindling, and fuel wood.
Tinder is the start of all great campfires. It consists of small twigs, leaves, and grass. You want to get the driest tinder possible as that will make the fire easiest to start. If it is too wet outside and you can not find any dry tinder you may need to bring your own, you should always have a fire starting kit on you. You can get one in our store or find many other great fire starting kits just about anywhere.
To keep the fire going, as tinder burns out quickly, you will need kindling. Kindling is classified as sticks smaller than 1 inch in diameter. These smaller sticks help you transition the fire from the tinder to the fuel wood. If you were to put the fuel wood on right after the tinder you would smother the fire.
This is the material that will keep your fire burning longer and hotter. Fuel wood is thicker pieces of wood. You want this woods size to be between the size of your forearm and thigh. Be sure not to go to big as the wood will have trouble catching fire.
Building Your Fire:
There are many ways to structure a campfire, each way comes with different advantages. But before you set up the fire you should make sure you have a solid base. To create the base you want to dig a round hole in the ground just under a foot deep. You can make the hole as wide as you want depending on how big you want your fire to be. Next line the outside of the hole with rocks to further contain the fire. Now that your base is created choosing the best structure depends on what you want to use the fire for.
Best For Cooking:
Teepee - To create a teepee fire you first want to put your tinder in the center of the fire. After you have your tinder in the middle place your kindling upright around the tinder in the shape of a teepee. Slowly add your larger kindle in the same teepee shape. Finally add your fuelwood to the outside of the teepee. Ignite the tinder and watch as a beautifulcampfire springs to life
Lean-to - To build a lean to fire you want to first place your tinder at the center aff the fire. Next you should drive a piece of kindle at a 30 degree angle over the tinder. Then lean smaller pieces of kindling against the larger one. Light the tinder and as the fire grows start adding on fuelwood. Start with the smallest piece of fuel wood first.
Best For Long Lasting Fires:
Cross: A cross fire is the simplest fire to make. To start put your tinder in the center of where you want your fire. Put a few smaller pieces of kindling on the tinder and ignite the tinder. Slowly add larger pieces of wood in a cross pattern until you have a large fire. Keep adding for as long as you want the fire to go.
Start off by making a small teepee lay. Next make a shape of a log cabin with some of the smaller kindling. Put two pieces of large fuel wood on opposite sides of the structure. Keep adding on wood like building a lincoln logs house. Ignite the teepee and
watch your fire grow.
Extinguish Your Fire:
Never leave your fire burning while unattended. Properly putting out a fire can take up to 30 minutes so plan ahead. First start letting the fire die out slowly and do not add any more fuel to it. As the fire starts to die down sprinkle water on it. Do not dump a ton of water on it because that could ruin the site for future use. As the embers begin to cool down you can stir the remaining fuel and water together the get it to die down further. To make sure the fire is out place the back of your hand a few inches away from the fire, make sure not to get to close just in case, if you can still feel heat from the fire it still needs more time before it can be left unattended.
Now go show your fire making skills at the campground.