How to Start a Campfire 

December 04, 2015
How to Start a Campfire

When you’re out on a camping adventure, there are many things to take care of. You have to get your tent set up, unpack your gear and make sure you’ve inspected the area for any dangers — like danger zones that need to be avoided, especially at night. Only when all of this is taken care of can you get down to the important task of lighting your campfire.

A camping trip wouldn’t be complete without a lovely roaring fire to keep you warm, to add some ambiance and to allow you to cook your food with that great smoky outdoors taste we all love. Fortunately, lighting a fire is easier than you might think when you follow a few simple steps.

Don’t Forget: Cooking Equipment – What You Need on Your Camping Trip

Just remember – it is illegal to start a campfire, or even have a naked flame, during a day of total fire ban. Be sure to check before you start your campfire!

Fuel and Oxygen

A fire needs two things: a fuel to burn and oxygen for combustion. Of course, you also need a source of flame, like a match or a lighter, but that’s the easy part. Spending a bit of time preparing your fire properly means it will light quickly and be roaring with little hassle. Here are the steps you need to follow to get your fire going:

  1. Collect your supplies. You will need: Tinder: Scraps of paper will work to light your fire, but small dry branches and leaves are best.
    Kindling: This material is finger-sized twigs and branches that will light quickly and create flames. Logs and branches: These can be slow to catch fire, but they will provide you with hours of slow burn.

  2. Prepare your camping fire ring or pit. Always think safety. Most people are surprised at how quickly a fire can spread. Use a camping fire pit or a barrel, if possible, to keep your fire contained. If those aren’t available, make sure to clear a large area of branches, grass and twigs, digging down into the dirt to get a large, flat base (for several metres all around your pit).

  3. Assemble your fuel. When you’re piling your wood fuel into your fire area, start with the tinder, then the kindling, followed by the logs. A log cabin or tepee shape keeps the tinder and kindling from being flattened, and it allows more air in to increase the flames.

Safety Around the Campfire

You can always add more logs after your fire gets going. Just remember, once the logs are on the fire, it’s dangerous to try to take them off. Don’t hesitate to start with a small fire and add larger branches and logs once the flames start climbing.

Be extremely cautious if you decide to use fire-starting fluids — they can easily flare up, and they often produce undesirable smells. Try to keep things natural and avoid burning waxy paper and cardboard.

It’s important to be patient when lighting a campfire. We all want to hurry and get the meat and veggies grilling, but if you start cooking before your fire has properly caught, you will have a hard time relighting it. We recommend you start preparing your camping fire pit well before nightfall. That way, it will be producing plenty heat and light when nightfall arrives.

When it’s time for bed, take the time to ensure your fire is completely out. Instead of dumping a full bucket of water on your fire, sprinkle small amounts all over while stirring the coals with a shovel or rake. Even when there are no flames left, your fire can still be capable of reigniting — so make sure you’re 100 % certain your fire is completely extinguished.

After that, you can enjoy a safe and restful sleep on a full belly, and get ready to start again in the morning for breakfast!


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