Let’s face it. Without a campfire, it ain’t campin’. A campfire is one of the few things that can affect all of your senses.
The smell of the burning wood for your nose, the warmth for your hands, the flames dancing for your eyes, the crackle and pops for your ears, and of course the taste of the roasted marshmallows for your mouth.
Campfires provide a time of socializing and relaxation from a day of camping adventures. Just follow these tips, and you will have a safe and enjoyable campfire. Campfires are a fun and rewarding way to stay warm, cook food and provide a place for social gathering.
Be sure to follow these simple steps for a safe campfire.
Location, Location, Location
- Pick your campfire location carefully. Nothing spoils a great camping trip as quickly as a 10,000 acre brushfire.
- Pick a flat area, free of overhanging trees.
- Clear the area of all ground cover (pine needles, twigs, etc)
- If the campground does not have fire rings, build one out of rocks.
- If the campground allows it, gather wood, otherwise, you will need to bring your own or purchase it.
- Never cut living plants or remove bark. It wont burn, and worse, it harms and can possibly kill the plant or tree.
- Stack your firewood away from fire area. Do not use green or freshly cut wood; it will only smoke.
- Have a bucket of water nearby ready to put out the fire.
- You will need a shovel and a poker
- A fire extinguisher can save a tragedy. You should have one in your camper, so bring it out to the campfire.
What Wood Would I Want?
- You will need three different cuts of wood for your campfire.
- Tinder is very small twigs, wood shavings, dry leaves, dry grass, dry needles, or tree bark. This is the first level of your fire.
- Kindling is small sticks which are about the diameter of a pencil to a broom handle.
- Fuel is larger wood that keeps the fire going. Try to use fuel that is no larger than a baseball bat in diameter.
- Different types of wood burn differently. Pine and soft woods burn fast. Oak, maple and harder woods burn hotter and more slowly.
The One Match Fire
- Loosely pile tinder in the center of your fire ring. This should be about the size of a softball.
- Around the sides of pile lay the smallest kindling, forming a tee-pee of kindling around the tinder.
- With your back to the wind, ignite tinder with a match.
- If the tinder is just smoking, you may need to add oxygen. Slowly blow on the tinder to create a flame.
- As the tinder flames, the kindling will soon catch. Wait for the smallest pieces of kindling to catch, then start adding larger kindling.
- When the larger pieces of kindling are burning, you may start to add the larger fuel pieces.
- Add the fuel one piece at a time. Do not smother your fire with too many logs at once. Allow for adequate air flow.
- Never build a campfire near tents or in your tent.
- Don’t use charcoal lighter or other flammable fluids to start a campfire.
- Never leave a campfire unattended.
- Keep your campfire small.
- When finished, completely extinguish your campfire.
- To extinguish a campfire first spread the embers out with your poker.
- Sprinkle the embers with water and stir them up with your poker. Repeat until completely dead and cool to the touch.