How To Start A Campfire: A Simple Step-By-Step Guide for Beginners

How To Start A Campfire: A Simple Step-By-Step Guide for Beginners

Do you know how to start a campfire? If not, then this guide is perfect for you.

But first, what is camping without a campfire? Heck, a lot of you would never be able to answer such a question.

You see, a campfire is already a staple amenity for camping. It is through these roaring campfires that memories are formed, and unforgettable experiences are being forged. These reasons alone are proofs that any camping excursion is incomplete without the fire in the ground.


But despite its commonality, there are still some folks out there who don't know how to lit a fire. I know that some of you are guilty about this. But don't fret. I am not here to judge you. Instead, I am here to teach the basics of lighting a campfire. In this way, you will be able to enjoy the simplest pleasures while you are in the wild.

Let's get started.

These are the things that you should do to make sure that a blazing fire warms your night in the campsite.

The Essentials

Step 1: Know The Regulations

Just because you are on the wild doesn't mean that you can do anything that you want. That's not how things work, especially if you are camping on natural protected areas of the government. You have to realize that fire is dangerous, especially if unattended. It can cause forest fires and other unwanted accidents.

Not all campsites and parks today allow campfire. If your intention in camping is to build a campfire, then you have to make sure that your destination allows it. Otherwise, you have to find other sites.

The best thing that you can do here is to know the fire restrictions and regulations in a particular state or locality. In this way, you will never violate any rules.

Step 2: Get Campfire Permit

In relation to the step above, it is necessary that campers have campfire permit. I know that not all countries carry or implement this kind of rule. But in the United States, it is downright essential.

National forests and areas that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management require the acquisition of campfire permit. With this permit, you have a temporary license to build a fire on a specified area. If you are in the United States, securing this permit is quite easy. You just have to get them from the Bureau of Land Management or the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Actual Fire Preparation

Actual Fire Preparation
Step 1: Finding An Ideal Location To Build Fire

Look for an area that has a low elevation and is particularly dry. The reason for this is simple: you want to protect your fire against the wind and the water. If you place your fire on a hill or an inclined slope, gushing winds can eventually shut it down. Meanwhile, grounds are not that parched prove to be a difficult spot for fire building.

But what if the rain comes through? Well, there are two routes you can take. First, you find a shelter like a cave and start building your fire there. Second, you use camping amenities like tarps to protect the fire from the pouring rain.

Step 2: Make a Fire Pit

Many campers always miss this part. And it quite saddens me.

Of course, you can always make a fire without a fire pit. However, things would be easier on your part if this thing is present. A fire pit is created to secure the fire against a strong wind breeze.

The hole that you should dig is not deep. It is around five inches to 8 inches. After digging, the edge of the hole should be lined with stones. These stones will help the heat to be retained over extended periods. Furthermore, it will keep the burnt wood or charcoals from spilling outside.

Step 3: Choose a Firewood

Building a campfire can also boil down to the type of "fuel" that you used. Right now, you have three options for this: kindling, firewood, and tinder.

A tinder is anything that includes dried leaves, twigs, and even forest duff. Meanwhile, kindling materials simply refer to small sticks, with an estimated diameter of lesser than one inch. The last one is firewood. These are pieces of wood that can support the fire for long hours.

For most campgrounds, local firewood is highly encouraged. You are not allowed to bring firewood anyway, especially if the campground administrators are particularly strict. You cannot also drive firewood on distances that are greater than 50 miles.

Your only option is to gather local firewood. If you are lucky, your campground might be selling them. They usually come in the bundle. They are not pricey either, so there's nothing that you should worry about.

Step 4: Light The Fire

There are various ways you can arrange the firewood. The first one is the cone. The latter will require you to position your firewood just like a cone. You have to place their tips close to each other while their base separated. In short, you are forming your firewood in a triangular arrangement.

The second is a log cabin. Put two pieces of wood parallel to each other but not too distant. This is the base of your campfire. Next, make the same arrangement. But this time, you should turn the pieces of wood 90 degrees so that they can be balanced with the base. Add more layers until you are satisfied.

The last one is the pyramid. This one is just a stack of firewood that decreases in number as you pile them up in layers. Take note that each of these methods is great for building a campfire.

Once done, use a match, lighter, or a firestarter to ignite the flame. Things would be easier if you place a tinder below or above your firewood. They can catch fire faster than these tough firewood. Add more tinder if necessary to sustain the fire.

Before I forget, make sure that the firestarter and matches you carry are waterproof. These special variations are available in the market so finding them won't be a problem.

Once the fire is already burning, you need to place the embers to the center of the campfire. In this way, the fire will scatter evenly.

Step 5: Extinguish The Fire

As a responsible camper, you need to learn how to extinguish a campfire as well. Doing this is quite simple. You have to pour a bucket of water to the campfire until such time no embers are already visible. Pour as many buckets of water as you can. Do not leave the area until you are sure that the fire is extinguished already.

You can also dump soil to your campfire to add further guarantee that no spark or ember was able to survive. Accidents happen because of ignorance and carelessness, after all.


Now that you have learned how to start a campfire, I am pretty sure that you will try doing it on your next camping trip. Let me remind you that making a campfire is easy. However, being a responsible camper is another thing. Always remember that fire, when left unattended, can cause dangerous repercussions. If you care about Nature in general, you should not only learn how to build a roaring fire but also on how to extinguish it.

That's it for now. For your questions and suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comment section below.

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