Whether you’re a regular or seasonal camper, you need fire to keep warm, cook, purify water, light your camping area and keep away wild animals at night.
That’s why you must learn how to start and maintain a bonfire for your outdoor needs.
If you are camping for the first time and don’t know how to do it, here is a guide to take you from the start (assembling the correct materials) to the end (putting out the fire).
Gather a Good Fire Starter
You need materials like tinder, kindling, and wood fuel to make a fire and maintain it all night long.
The former two, tinder and kindling, act as fire starters, while the wood fuel keeps the fire going to cater to your heating and lighting needs.
To beat the struggle of starting a fire in challenging weather conditions, you need a fire starter tool. Below is a brief description of the required materials.
Tinder: These are thin, dry, and easy-to-light materials, like grass, wood chips, dry leaves, etc., for starting a fire. While tinder might look like an easy find outdoors, the materials may be wet, making it hard to start the fire.
That said, packing self-made or pre-made tinder from the store is essential. If you can’t afford to make or buy one, please collect some grass or dry leaves and pack them in time to prevent them from getting wet.
Kindling: These are pencil-sized pieces of wood that are easy to light using tinder. They are more difficult to light on their own than tinder but last longer than tinder when burning. Kindling is ideal for lighting the thicker logs of wood fuel. You get kindling from well-dried tree branches or chopping old-fashioned wood with a knife.
Wood fuel: After starting a fire, you want to keep it ablaze and hot throughout the night. Wood fuel makes this possible. Go for medium-sized and dry logs, whose thickness approximates that of your forearm or wrist, as they are easy to start with kindling and burn for a long time without producing smoke.
If your purpose is to pack precut wood from home or your nearest hardware store, check beforehand whether the local authorities have legalized campfires and if it’s okay to bring woodfuel from outside. Also, check whether they sell or allow woodfuel collection in the campground.
Create Your Fire Bed
Now it’s time to prepare a bed for laying the materials discussed above.
For safety purposes, create your fire bed on bare ground, free from hanging branches, tree bark, bushes, grass, and other plant materials that may easily cause a wildfire.
Also, ensure that your fireplace is away from your tent, sunshade, or anything else that may catch fire and risk your life.
As a good camper, you should edge your fire with stones to prevent it from spreading. However, you do not need to use stones if you carry a backyard firepit.
Start the Fire
Now that you have prepared the fire bed, the next step is to lay out the materials and start the fire. Below are three standard fire layouts you can use.
Teepee Fire Structure
As the name suggests, the teepee fire outlay resembles the typical teepee with a conical shape.
- Lay a bundle of tinder at the center of the fire bed, then lay small pieces of kindling over the tinder to make a cone-shaped structure. Be sure to leave a door for starting the fire and some air spaces between the kindling.
- Next, lay pieces of wood over the kindling while maintaining the conical shape.
- Start tinder with a match and enjoy the heat. You can add more pieces of wood with time to keep the fire burning.
Log Cabin Fire Structure
The log-cabin fire combines the basic teepee and crisscross patterns of wood.
- Create the basic tipi using tinder, kindling, and pieces of wood that are slightly larger than the kindling
- Lay two pieces of wood on the opposite side of the teepee
- Lay another two pieces of wood on top of the first set, so they crisscross each other. The result should put the circumference of the teepee in a rectangle or square structure.
- Repeat the pattern using larger and smaller logs to get a cabin-like structure and light it up
Lean on the Fire Structure
As the name echoes, the lean on fire features small pieces of kindling and wood leaning on a piece of solid kindling.
- Stick a strong piece of kindling on a 30-degree angle and facing against the wind
- Place a bunch of tinder beneath the stuck piece and then lay kindling over the tinder to create a coned structure. Add kindling over the stuck piece to encapsulate the tinder in a nest.
- Lay a piece of wood over the stuck piece and light it up.
Before You Go, Put the Fire Out
Do not leave the camping site until you have completely extinguished the fire.
For best results, carry a bucket of water and a fire poker to stir up the fire as you extinguish it.
You can buy a fire poker from your nearest hardware store or order one online.
Putting out the fire takes patience. Stir up the fire while sprinkling water until the hissing sounds from the live embers are no longer present and the fireplace feels cool.
Making a fire can be more challenging than it looks, but here you have all the steps to create the perfect outdoor fire laid out for you.
Save it for future reference so you’re always prepared.