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How to Start a Campfire

Pull up a chair and grab some marshmallows - here's everything you need to know to start a campfire.

5 Min. Watch | Camping

Before You Begin

Check restrictions and regulations.

Even campgrounds with designated fire rings can sometimes have restrictions in particularly dry weather. Regulations will also let you know if – and where – you’re allowed to buy or collect your firewood.

Clean and clear your fire ring

Make sure your fire ring is clean, clear and nowhere near any brush, trees, or camping equipment.

Keep a bucket of water nearby

Make sure your fire ring is clean, clear and nowhere near any brush, trees, or camping equipment.

Campfire Materials

Tinder

The starting point for your fire – small, dry material that lights easily and burns hot. It could be small natural materials, like twigs, dry leaves and pine needles; or something you bring from home, like newspaper, dryer lint, commercial fire starters or cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly.

Kindling

Consisting of small sticks and pieces of wood less than an inch around, kindling will burn longer than tinder, but still catch relatively easily. The tinder will light the kindling, and the kindling will then light the bigger logs.

Fuel wood

Larger pieces of that will burn for a long time, providing your fire with a lot of energy once they’re aflame.

How to Build a Log Cabin Fire

1. Start by placing a small pile of tinder in the center of your fire pit.

2. Then, place fuel logs on either side of your tinder.

3. Place two more logs, crosswise, to create a square.

4. Add a couple more layers, using smaller pieces of wood and kindling - it will look like a log cabin.

5. Finally, create a cone of small kindling over your tinder, and use some of your thinnest pieces of tinder to make a “roof.” Leave lots of space – the fire needs oxygen to burn.

6. Light your tinder. You may need to blow lightly on the flame to feed it oxygen and get it burning hot.

7. The flames should set the kindling cone and roof ablaze, giving your fire a hot core. Add kindling as needed to keep it burning bright, working your way up to pieces of fuel wood.

Extinguishing Your Fire

WAIT FOR YOUR FIRE TO BURN DOWN COMPLETELY

Allow your fire to burn down to the ashes, or douse it with water – being careful not to flood the fire ring.

CHECK THE ASHES

Don’t leave your fire until the ashes are cool to the touch. If the ashes are still warm, that means there are still embers inside which could reignite.

NEVER LEAVE A FIRE UNATTENDED

Whenever you make a fire, keep an eye on it the entire time it’s active. It doesn’t take long for fire to spread – better safe than sorry.

Now that you know what to do, plan some camping trips so you can get out there and start practicing! Making a fire is an essential camping skill – and it’ll get easier every time.

Planning a camping adventure? Get outfitted with everything you need:

TentsSleeping Bags

Camping Furniture

Now that you know what to do, plan some camping trips so you can get out there and start practicing! Making a fire is an essential camping skill – and it’ll get easier every time.

Planning a camping adventure? Get outfitted with everything you need:

Tents

Sleeping Bags

Camping Furniture

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