When you picture yourself camping in the wild, the image often includes a campfire. That is no
surprise, as ever since the beginning of man-kind, fire is a gift from the nature that serves many
purposes. In this article, we aim to let you know everything about setting up a campfire properly.
Looking For A Fire Ring And Setting It Up
In camping sites, there are usually fire rings, barbeque grills, and fireplaces readily set up. If your desired
camp site has those facilities, make sure to fully utilize them as they will lessen the effect on the
environment and at the same time make sure your fire is contained. In addition, before starting a fire,
do check with the person-in- charge to ensure setting up a fire is allowed at that time, as dry spells can
make setting up a fire banned.
As for camping at an undeveloped ground, you may check with the land administrators to see if setting
up a fire is allowed. It is also important to assess the site upon arrival, if the site has a dense growth of
bushes, you should avoid setting up a big fire, or better yet, avoid setting up any fire if possible. In such
conditions, it is easy to spark a wild fire.
If setting up a fire is allowed in the wild, one can make use of a leftover fire ring, if there is. If not, set up
a new one only if you really need it. Also, it is always a good practice to clean up and take apart the fire
place you built. Before you leave, check for any materials that are easy to catch fire and clear them
away. The best place to build a fire is where the ground is sandy, stony or mineral soil, as the high heat
from the fire can destroy an otherwise fertile land.
Another choice is to build a mound fire. To build one, create a 15-20cm flat base made of mineral soil in
a circular form, and then build your fire on it. It will be best if you can build the base on a leveled rock, in
that way, you can easily dispose it off when you are done.
Collecting Fire Wood
In order to build a lasting fire, three kinds of material is needed:
Tinder, which are small thin branches, dried leaves, or anything dry and small that you can pick up from
Kindling, which are small branches that are not more than one inch around.
Firewood, which are big pieces of wood that will be the fuel to keep your fire burning.
If you are camping at a developed camp site, you do not need to bring your own firewood as some camp
sites offer firewood for sale. In addition, some camp sites do not even allow you to bring your own
firewood, in fear of foreign firewood bringing in unwanted insect infestation.
On the other hand, if you are camping in the wilderness, pick only wood that are fallen. Do not cut off
branches from live trees, or even dead trees, as animals might rely on them. To leave no trace behind, a
rule of thumb is to never burn anything that are bigger than the wrist of an adult, as anything bigger
than that is hard to be entirely burned out.
Putting Together A Campfire
Firewood can be put together in a number of ways, such as teepee, pyramid, or log cabin.
Teepee: first place fistfuls of tinder as the center of the fire place, then surround them with kindling
forming a cone shape. Once you get the fire going, you can gradually add more pieces of wood to
sustain the fire.
Pyramid: as the base layer, place 3-4 pieces of your biggest wood in parallel form. Then stack smaller
pieces that are turned 90 degrees on top. Continue doing so with smaller and smaller pieces, each time
turning the wood 90 degrees from the previous stack. At last, sprinkle your tinder on top.
Log cabin: as the base layer, place 2 bigger pieces of wood parallel but apart from each other. As the second layer, turn another 2 smaller pieces 90 degrees and place on top of the first layer, forming a
square. Continue to put generous amount of tinder inside the square and continue the same building
pattern with smaller pieces of wood each time. At the top of the structure, add a layer of tinder and
kindling. For a successful log cabin structure, don’t forget to leave sufficient room between the wood for
a good flow of oxygen.
Igniting The Campfire
Use your match or lighter to light up the tinder. Next, gently blow at the bottom of the fire to pump in
more oxygen. Oxygen is needed to further strengthen the fire. If you notice the wood turning into
embers, move them back to the fire to burn them thoroughly. Wood is thoroughly burned when they
turn into white ash.
Putting Out And Cleaning Your Campfire
To make sure the fire is put out entirely, first pour water over the fire, then stir the ashes to make sure
all remaining ember are further extinguished by pouring more water. Before leaving the camp site,
make sure the ashes has been cool down. In addition, the campfire should always be attended.
Burn only garbage that can be entirely burned down to ashes, which means items such as plastic and
aluminum cans shouldn’t be burned. If you happen to burn items that can’t be entirely turned into ash,
make sure to pick it up and dispose it properly. If you are in the wild, crumble the leftover charcoal and
spread them over a wide area away from your campsite. Also, take down any structure you built on the