How To Build A Campfire: Elements of a Campfire

When it comes to camping this summer, we want to make sure that you know how to safely build and extinguish a campfire.

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First: safety, for you and wherever you’re building your campfire. Have a bucket of water, a rake or hoe, and a small shovel; these are what you’re going to use to put the fire out. Never stand completely in the fire circle. You need to have one foot in and one foot out at all times when dealing with fire. If it flares up out of control, you can quickly get out of the way. Wear closed-toed shoes, we don’t need burned toes.

Next, the elements of a fire. A campfire (or any fire really) needs three things to survive: oxygen, fuel, and heat. If you take one of those elements away, your fire will go out. Think of it as a triangle. It loses support if one element is taken away. For example, if grease catches fire, you don’t pour water over it (that makes it worse, don’t ever do that). You slide a lid over it. It smothers the fire. If the fire uses up all the oxygen, it’s no longer supported. Same idea with campfires.

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Third, there are three types of wood you need for a campfire: tinder, kindling, and fuel. Tinder is the smallest and what you use to get the fire started; Think the diameter of a matchstick or smaller. Next is kindling, the between the size of your pinky and thumb; when you think of a stick, this is the size you think of. Fuel is the last thing. It keeps the fire burning. This is generally anything bigger than your thumb. Logs and such are in this category.

When it comes to the amount of wood you need, you’ll always need more than you think. Tinder needs to be the most abundant, as it burns the quickest, then kindling, then fuel. How long they burn is directly related to how big it is. Tinder burns fastest, followed by kindling, then fuel.

You always want to place wood onto the fire; not throw. This prevents sparks from flying. Wood doesn’t conduct heat very well. By placing it in you can adjust it as needed and you won’t burn yourself.

Check out our follow-up blog on types of campfires below!