How to build a campfire

Whether it’s roasting s’mores, singing songs, or sharing scary stories, good times are always had around a campfire. But as fun as a campfire can be, it can also be incredibly dangerous if handled incorrectly. Learn how to build a campfire safely and effectively in just a few easy steps. 

How to Build a Campfire Safely

Materials Needed

  • Tinder (pine needles, dry leaves, cardboard, etc.)
  • Kindling (small twigs)
  • Firewood
  • Flame source (lighter, matches, flint and steel)

Building a Campfire

Step 1 – Find a Safe Spot

Most campsites will have a designated fire ring, typically surrounded by metal and stones. Utilize these rings to contain your fire and lessen your footprint. If you’re in a backcountry area with no designated spots for a campfire, you’ll want to find a relatively open piece of land. Clear out any flammable material for the base of your fire. Ideally, your fire will be built upon sand or soil.

Step 2 – Gather Materials for the Campfire

Now, it’s time to gather all of your materials. If you have to forage for firewood and kindling, be sure to utilize wood from downed trees or branches laying on the ground. Under no circumstances should you be attempting to cut down live trees or break off their branches. You’ll need to gather tinder, kindling, and firewood for your campfire. 

Step 3 – Build the Campfire

There are several different styles of campfires but the three most popular are cones, log cabins, and pyramids. For a cone campfire, build a small, loosely piled cone of kindling surrounded by tinder. This should be right in the center of your fire ring. Add firewood to the pile and place it around the cone. A log cabin campfire requires two pieces of large firewood to be placed side-by-side at the bottom of the fire ring. Add kindling and tinder on top, then add two more pieces of firewood turned 90 degrees. It should form a uniform square. The last style is a pyramid which is similar to the log cabin. However, you’ll be adding more layers and decreasing the size of the firewood the higher you go. 

Step 4 – Light the Campfire

The final step is to light your campfire! Be sure to light kindling first and carefully blow on the kindling once lit to increase oxygen flow. Keep a close eye on your campfire and never leave it unattended. Slowly add firewood as the logs burn down and enjoy!