How to Build a Good Campfire?

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There’s something about a campfire that makes stories so interesting, ideas so brilliant and cuddles so romantic. Think about those bonding moments with family and friends circled around the campfire. Did you stop and ask yourself how everything would have turned out without the fire? Truth be told, campfires are quite inspirational. Therefore, knowing how to light one can be an invaluable skill to have and that is why we saw the need to share tips for lighting a campfire.

how to build a campfire

The process of lighting a roaring campfire involves three main stages and they are:

  • Creating the fire bed
  • Gathering wood and
  • Laying wood

Now let us go through each of these stages and see how we can successfully make a fire on the camping site.

2 Simple Steps to Building a Campfire Easier

  1. Creating the Fire Bed

    The first step to lighting a campfire is creating a fire bed, which is a mandatory stage if you are camping in a place that is not a camping facility. Camping facilities have an area designated for campfires, but this is not the case with camping in the wild. When selecting a place for the campfire, ensure it is far enough from any dry plants especially trees and bushes. Such plant materials are prone to catching fires and we all know that wildfires cause damages of unmeasurable proportions to both property and human life.

    It is recommended to dig your fire bed if you cannot find a bare piece of land that is free of grass and other plants. Follow the following steps when creating a fire bed in a bushy and grassy campsite;

    • Identify an area far from the bush
    • Dig the area to rid it of any plant-like materials
    • Rake off the plant-like residue from the dug area
    • Once you are satisfied with the cleared area and confirmed that it is at a safe distance from thickets, gather some dirt at the center and use it to form a platform of 4 inches thick.

    campfire bed set up

    Having satisfactorily created your fire bed, you can now move on to the next stage which is gathering wood.

  2. Gathering and Laying Wood

    This is a more involving stage in the whole fire lighting process because not only are you required to go gathering wood around the bush but you also need to know the type of wood to cut and gather for your campfire. You will need to cut and gather three types of wood and they include tinder, kindling, and fuelwood.

    • Tinder

      This is the lightest type of wood to use in a campfire and it consists of plant materials like dry leaves, dry barks, and dry grass as well as some bit of wood shavings. One thing you need to bear in mind is that tinder will not catch fire if it is wet. Therefore, if you are going camping in an area that you suspect to be wet or rainy, it is probably a smart move to bring your tinder.

    • Kindling

      This is another type of wood that is easy to catch fire. It is the second layer that goes above tinder when laying your wood. Kindling wood comprises of twigs and branches with the thickness of a pencil. You will need to gather dry kindling wood otherwise you will have trouble bringing it to burn. However, unlike tinder wood, kindling can catch fire even if it is not dry albeit with a certain degree of difficulty.

    • Fuelwood

      Both tinder and kindling wood burn fast, which is not the case for fuelwood as it is the one that sustains the fire. Fuelwood is a type of wood that is at least the thickness of your arm and does not burn easily but when it finally does, it burns for an extended period. The thicker the wood, the harder it is to catch fire and the longer it will burn.

    gathering and laying camfire wood

    Now that we have looked into the three types of wood to gather for your campfire, let us now look at how one is supposed to cut the wood during the gathering process.

Which Camping Tool Should You Choose to Cut Wood?

Identifying the type of wood to gather is one thing and cutting it off from its source is a whole new thing. You can choose to break a piece or cut it off using a tool but this is determined by the level of dryness. Dry wood is easy to break as it snaps easily, which not the case with wet or green wood which requires the use of camping saws or camping hatchets.

When gathering tinder, you do not need a tool as it is easily obtainable from the ground or the fence. You can also use a rake to gather tinder. Gathering kindling wood may require the use of a camping knife especially if you are gathering slightly wet or green kindling wood. As we stated earlier, although kindling wood may have trouble burning when wet or green, you can enhance its burning ability by slicing off the green bark with a camp knife. Some kindling wood may require you to use a camp saw especially when it is slightly green. When it comes to cutting fuelwood, unless you are gathering only dry wood that easily snaps, then you might be forced to use a camp hatchet.

wood cutting camping tools


From the foregoing, we can confirm that 95% of the success of a campfire relies on your ability to gather the right type of wood and the remaining 5% on how you arrange the wood. Getting it right with the gathering and the arrangement of the wood layers will guarantee you a 100% successful campfire. It is also important to note that the quantity of the wood will play a major role in influencing how you get to enjoy your campfire. It is always recommended to gather twice as much wood as you think you will need for your camping trip. This applies to tinder, kindling, and fuelwood. We often underestimate how fast wood can burn so it is better to have a surplus than a deficit. But most importantly, before you learn how to light a fire, you need to learn to put it out.

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