One of the best things about camping and the outdoors is being able to enjoy a campfire in the evenings. It is relatively simple to build a campfire that will impress your friends, but you need to be aware of a few campfire basics before you strike that match.
Campgrounds have their own rules about campfires. Be sure you know what these rules are and that you abide by them. Check with the main office, or check-in point to make sure that campfires are allowed and what, if any, kind of regulations there are. If there is a fire pit at your site, it is probably fine to build a fire, but it is still safe conduct to know if there are specific burning times or not.
If you have the go ahead to have a campfire, you’ll need a few basic items to build a fire that will impress and delight your camping friends. First, you will need to have a chosen spot for the fire. If the camp ground has supplied a fire ring do not move it without permission. It has been placed where it is for a reason.
If there is no fire ring, look around for a low spot on the ground. Clear this area so that it is free of dried leaves and twigs. If there are rocks available from a creek, use some of them to make your own fire ring. A 4 foot by 4 foot area is plenty of room for an impressive fire.
Small limbs and twigs can be gathered from your campsite area. Larger wood to keep the fire going after you have started it will either have to be brought with you or purchased from the campground.
Convenience stores that are close to camping areas often sell campfire wood that is already split into pieces. Campgrounds sometimes sell it at the main office as well. Never break any limbs from a live tree to build your fire with. It harms the environment and the live wood will not burn anyway.
Use newspaper or paper towels as the bottom layer of your fire starter pyramid. Crumple the paper up into loose wads. Gather up as many small sticks and twigs as you can find around your area. Lean these small sticks and twigs onto the newspaper in a “teepee” design. Carefully light the newspaper in several different spots.
You will be able to hear the dry twigs snap and crackle as they start to burn. When you are assured that several of them are burning, add a few more twigs, starting with the smallest twigs and mixing in a few larger limbs as the fire starts to burn.
When the limbs and twigs have created a bed of hot red embers, add a couple of larger pieces of wood to the fire. Lay them gently across the other limbs so that air will be able to get in, under and around them. Tending to a campfire is a relaxing job, but should be taken seriously. Never leave the campfire unattended.
Feed the campfire often to keep it burning bright and hot. Using different sizes of wood will insure that the campfire continuously burns. Throw in a small piece of wood that will burn quickly followed by a larger piece that will continue to keep the flames going.
If you plan to roast hotdogs, the big chunks of wood will smolder and hold the heat while the smaller pieces will flare up with flames to cook the hotdog. Your friends will be impressed with your knowledge on campfires. You may also find yourself as the designated fire starter every time you camp.
Building an impressive fire is easy, but you must also remember the safety rules too. The hot embers will smolder for several hours. Be sure you watch the fire until it has safely died down. If you must leave the area, put the fire out completely by scooping dirt onto it, or by pouring water over it.
Be as considerate as you can of other campers that are in the area. Try to build, maintain and put out your fire in the least disturbing manner that you can. Other campers will not appreciate being smoked out if they are down wind of your fire.