How to Build a Campfire

How to Build a Campfire

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You’ll be singing around the dirt and eating un-toasted marshmallows if you don’t learn how to build a proper campfire.

Step 1: Check the rules
Make sure a campfire is allowed at your campsite.

Step 2: Find a pit
See if your campsite has premade fire pits. If not, you’ll have to make one.

Step 3: Locate a clearing
To create your own fire pit, choose an area at least ten feet away from brush or other easily flammable materials.

Tip
Don’t forget to look up! Fire pits should not be under branches.

Step 4: Make a circle
Surround your fire pit with a circle of stones or rocks to keep your wood contained.

Tip
If you have a shovel, dig a shallow pit inside your circle of rocks. Six to eight inches will do.

Step 5: Gather wood
Gather wood. You’ll need three different types: tinder, such as small twigs and dry leaves; kindling, which are larger sticks and twigs still under an inch in diameter; and fuel wood, large pieces of wood that will burn for a while.

Tip
All wood should be dry and as free of dirt, moss, and debris as possible. Pile it at least three feet away from your fire pit.

Step 6: Start with tinder
Start by placing a pile of tinder in the center of your fire pit.

Step 7: Build a kindling tepee
Using three or four pieces of your kindling, build a tepee around the tinder.

Step 8: Add more kindling
Add more kindling to the downwind side of your tepee, then continue around to the upwind side. Leave an opening on the upwind side that will allow you to ignite the tinder inside the tepee.

Tip
Fire needs oxygen, so be sure to leave space between the kindling in your tepee to let the fire breathe.

Step 9: Lay the fuel wood
Lay two parallel pieces of fuel wood on opposite sides of the tepee. The ends should extend beyond your tepee. Lay two more pieces of wood on top of your first two, forming a square of fuel wood enclosing the tepee.

Step 10: Keep layering
Continue laying fuel wood, building up to a box that resembles a log cabin. Two or three layers will suffice.

Tip
Make sure you can still access the tinder, which is now inside the kindling tepee, which is inside your fuel-wood cabin.

Step 11: Light the fire
Light the tinder in several different locations.

Tip
Stand upwind of your fire when you’re lighting it to keep the wind from blowing out your match or lighter.

Step 12: Feed it tinder
Add small amounts of tinder until the kindling catches fire.

Step 13: Add kindling
Once the kindling ignites, switch your attention to the fuel wood. As the kindling burns up, add more until the fuel wood ignites.

Step 14: Feed the fire
When the fuel wood has caught on fire, continue feeding it with fuel wood as needed.

Did You Know?
‘Battle Hymn of the Republic,’ the Union soldiers’ unofficial anthem during the Civil War, is based on a campfire melody that was popular in the South.

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