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How to Build a Campfire

campfireAlong with a compass, a map, and basic knowledge of how to pitch a tent, it's a basic skill any traditional camper must have.

That is, how to start a campfire.

Check out the following step-by-step guide to safely making a campfire for your group to gather around on some dark, starlit night.

'Smores and ghost stories not included ...

Pick your spot

1. To avoid the possibility of wildfires, never build a campfire during droughts or abnormally dry conditions. Because of the dangers involved, always ask if the campground permits campfires before you strike.

In some campgrounds, a fire ring or fire pit is already available. If not, be sure your fire pit is downwind and at least 15 feet away from any tents or low lying tree branches to avoid damage to trees or injury to your fellow campers.

Build your campfire pit

2. Clear a 10-foot diameter area around the site. Remove any grass, twigs, leaves and firewood. Also make sure there aren't any tree limbs or flammable objects hanging overhead. Dig a pit in the dirt about a foot deep, and circle the pit with rocks.

3. Now you're ready to fill your fire pit with small pieces of dry wood.

how to build a campfireNote:NEVER cut branches or twigs from live trees and respect the surrounding environment (furthermore, fresh wood will also take forever to light and burn.)

4. Gather three types of wood
- Tinder (small twigs, dry leaves or grass, dry needles)
- Kindling (sticks smaller than 1" around)
- Fuel (larger pieces of wood)

5. Loosely pile a few handfuls of tinder in the center of the fire ring/pit, and add kindling in one of these methods:

"Teepee" (for cooking) - Lay the kindling over the tinder like you're building a tent.

"Cross" (for a longer-lasting campfire) - Crisscross the kindling over the tinder.

How to light your campfire

6. Ignite the tinder with a match or lighter. Wait until the match is cold, and discard it in the fire. As the fire grows, add more tinder and blow lightly at the base of the fire. Add kindling and firewood to keep the fire going at a steady roar. Just make sure to keep the fire manageable and under control.

Maintaining your campfire

7. Once you have a strong fire going, add larger pieces of dry wood to keep it burning steadily. Meanwhile, make sure children and pets are supervised when near the fire. Never leave your campfire fire unattended.

Putting out your campfire

8. Before you're ready to put out your fire and call it a night, allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible. Pour lots of water on the fire and stir the ashes and embers with a shovel to make sure everything is soaked.

If you don't have a water supply handy, use dirt or sand. NOTE: Because there is a possibility that your campfire will continue to smolder, NEVER bury a campfire. Instead, ensure that you mix a heaping mound of dirt or sand with the embers until they are completely extinguished.

Courtesy: Smokey Bear's Campfire Safety Guide

More about building campfires around the Web:

Beginners Guide to Making Campfires
- Good troubleshooting guide including how to start fires in wet conditions and high winds, plus instruction on how to make your own fire-starting kit.

How To Make Campfires: Building an Outdoor Fire - Detailed instructions with related photos and resources.


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