What’s the Best Way to Build a Campfire?

Hatchet in a logDifferent people prefer different methods for starting a campfire. There are those who take pride in starting a fire with nothing but sticks, and view using so much as a match as cheating. Then there are those who will happily burn through a bottle of lighter fluid in order to get a roaring campfire as quickly as possible. Both camps will defend to the death why their method is best, but what’s the best way to start a campfire?

The answer is simple, really. There is no best way to start a fire. What’s “best” depends on who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish. Using lighter fluid, a starter log, and a Bic might be the easiest and most convenient way to start a fire, but it isn’t necessarily rewarding. Starting a bow drill fire in the rain is impossible for a majority of campers, but if you’re one of the select few who can pull this off, you will definitely take pride in your ability to do so.

You can find countless online and video tutorials on how to start a campfire. Rather than go into excruciating detail on each individual method, here are a few campfire basics that you should know.

Some of the most common fire starting tools include:

  • Matches
  • Lighter
  • Starter log
  • Feather stick
  • Blow torch
  • Flint and steel
  • Accelerant (lighter fluid, fire paste, etc.)
  • Magnesium or Ferrocerium,
  • Bow drill

But the best way to start a fire is the one that aligns your needs and preferences.

Keep in mind that there’s more to starting a fire than just deciding between a sticks and a lighter. You also have to consider how to lay your fire. Some of the more popular methods include:

  • Pyramid
  • Log cabin
  • Tepee
  • Lean-to
  • Swedish fire torch
  • Dakota fire hole
  • Cross ditch

When building a campfire you’re typically going to use your smallest fuel first, and work your way up to the largest fuel. Start with tinder such as wood shavings and dry grass. Then add small twigs and branches for kindling. Once you have a fire going, you can start adding larger pieces of firewood to your campfire. The more primitive your fire starting method, the more important this order becomes.

There are three things that are needed to maintain a fire: oxygen, fuel, and fire. This is illustrated by the combustion triangle which shows that removing one or more of these elements, or not having the right balance of the three, will extinguish the fire. This is important to consider whenever you’re building a campfire. You need adequate fuel (dry wood that is the appropriate size for your fire), and you also need good airflow to deliver oxygen (but not so much as to blow the fire out completely).

Here are some other things to keep in mind when building a campfire.

Make sure your fire is kept contained in a rock ring. If it’s especially windy, you can dig out your fire pit and build up a rock wall to keep it protected. Do not risk building a fire if it’s so windy that starting a fire could potentially be dangerous. Use preexisting rock rings and fire pits instead of building new ones.

Bring dry firewood. Sometimes you can’t find dry wood. Bringing your own provides a good fallback. It’s recommended that you don’t carry firewood over 50 miles to a campsite to avoid introducing invasive insects. Also make sure that a campsite doesn’t ban outside firewood.

Gather downed wood rather than cutting living trees.

Always extinguish your fires. Carry enough water to put out the flames, or completely bury your fire. A sudden gust of wind can reignite coals, which can potentially lead to forest fires.

Leave a Reply

Follow us on Instagram

Something is wrong.
Instagram token error.


Load More