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Easy To Make Campfire Basics

Updated on June 14, 2013

How To Make the Best Campfire For Backyard Entertaining

Backyard campfires are a mainstay in our lives. They are memory makers, social gathering and just plain fun.

I was a boy scout in my day so it inevitably falls in my lap to lay and light the backyard fire. As a matter of fact it is my job when we're camping as well.

Let me pass on a few tips about making a campfire, at home or in the wilds. Knowing a few things makes it easy.

Campfire Basics - ... if I only knew...

  • Campfire Safety

    Always make sure you light the fire in a safe place. Dig away any grass or combustible material with a ten foot circle of the fire pit. Lay down sand or pea gravel deep enough to wiggles your toes in on a hot summer night.

    Make you fire pit at least 3 or 4 feet across and surround the pit with stone, brick or precast concrete fire rings. The look is up to you as long as the function is safe.

    Keep a couple of buckets of water or a garden hose handy just in case the spark show does spread beyond....

    Always make sure you have the required permits or notifications suitable for your location. Be aware of any local fire bans as well.

  • Parts of a Fire

    There are three parts to a fire. You need tinder, kindling and fuel. Logically you want something that catches fire easily so it must be dry. I make fire starters out of a paper egg carton, dryer lint and melted candle wax. Kindling is smaller twigs or splits of wood about the size of a pencil. This is the stuff your small flame from the tinder with catch to. The next size up is your regular wood for you fire. Split wood burns easier that round logs. Knowing how these three parts work makes it easier to start a fire or keep one going no matter what the weather. It may not be important to a barkyard party but it could save your life in an emergency situation. Be prepared.

  • Tips on fire starting.

    Make sure you have a clear site and lots of fuel and kindling before your even start lighting the fire. Nothing is worse than starting the fire and then running around looking for more wood. The rule of thumb is gather what you think is enough wood then triple it.

    Build the fire with the wind at your back. This will do two things. It will keep the smoke out of your eyes and it will push the flame up into the campfire you are laying.

    If you gather tinder in the wild to start make sure it is dry. Most conifer tree bark can be stripped into pieces by hand and then rolled between your palms to loosen up the fibers into a wool like consistency. Birch bark is good but only peel the outer papery part that is flaking naturally, don't cut into the tree to strip the bark.

I make fire starters out of a paper egg carton, dryer lint and melted candle wax.

Types or Styles of Fire

Build To Suit Your Needs

A teepee fire where all the wood is piled up like a teepee starting with tinder, kindling over the tinder and wood over the kindling. When you light the tinder the flame naturally goes up into the waiting wood. This is a quick burning fire that is great for cooking, roasting marshmallows etc.

A crisscross or log cabin fire starts like a teepee fire with tinder and kindling but the fuel wood is laid flat close together and stacked alternately like a log cabin. This is a slow cooking or a long lasting fire. It is also the best way to make large coals used for cooking

A star fire is used when camping as an overnight heating fire. Once the fire is going the fuel logs are spread out radially as pushed in towards the center when they burn down. This way you can have long logs reducing the amount of firewood cutting needed.

The combination fire is what I use all the time for a backyard fire. I lay down a solid layer of wood with a second solid layer laid down on top crossing the first. This makes a raised platform keeping my tinder out of any leftover ashes from previous campfires. Then I start a teepee fire in the center of that and then circle that teepee with fuel log cabin style up around the teepee. This starts quick and casts many dancing shadows as the teepee fire burns inside the cabin. After awhile the cabin burns merrily and crumbles in on itself in a show of sparks This is the beginning of story time as after the big spark show the fire dies down to low embers and tiny flames of the solid base.

Add These To Your Library

Boy Scouts Handbook (The First Edition), 1911
Boy Scouts Handbook (The First Edition), 1911

I got this book when I was alot younger and have been inspired by the words within. It still one of my favorite books in my library.

Canadian Scout Handbook
Canadian Scout Handbook

This is the version I grew up with.

Earnest Thompson Seton's Trail & Camp-Fire Stories
Earnest Thompson Seton's Trail & Camp-Fire Stories

These are great stories for an age when the west was wild and frontiers were being built. I missed it by 100 years. Read about them here.

Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival
Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival

Tom Brown Jr. is a wonderful teacher and his books are the best.

SAS Survival Handbook, Revised Edition: For Any Climate, in Any Situation
SAS Survival Handbook, Revised Edition: For Any Climate, in Any Situation

Any survival handbook the army uses is good enough for reading ... if not at least it will help you start a fire once.


This guy Takes my idea one step further. - Theres always room for improvement.

One of many videos you can watch. - It is always easier for someone else it seems...

What Are Some Of Your Favorite Campfire Tips

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    • Northerntrials profile image

      Northerntrials 4 years ago

      @sharadkgupta lm: Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • sharadkgupta lm profile image

      sharadkgupta lm 4 years ago

      Very effective lens.i like this so much.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have a fire pit which means I can have the fire going in different areas if I want to. It has a mesh lid that's great for safety if there are little kids around. Nice lens :)

    • Northerntrials profile image

      Northerntrials 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Great Idea. Thanks for the comment and happy camping this year...

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I like using altoids cans for all those little things needed at a campout. Great lens!

    • GrimRascal profile image

      GrimRascal 4 years ago from Overlord's Castle

      Very useful! Thanks for this info.