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How to Build a Campfire Ring

Updated on April 20, 2015

A campfire ring is a simple structure that provides safety and comfort. It contains the flames inside while warning people to keep out. Building a campfire ring is also a public service. It can be enjoyed by the next group of campers who come along and ensures that they will ignite their campfire in a safe location.

Beach Campfire Ring
Beach Campfire Ring | Source

Location of the Campfire Ring

Find a safe spot for your campfire ring on a level patch of dirt or sand. Avoid windy areas that can blow out your fire or cause it to spread outside your campfire ring. It should be at least 10 feet from trees, shrubs and roots in every direction. Also make sure there are no tree branches hanging over the spot for the campfire ring. This is especially important when there is a fire danger warning or if you are surrounded by green pine trees. They are full of oil that can catch fire and burn at the slightest spark.

Find a safe spot for your campfire ring on a level patch of dirt or sand. Avoid windy areas that can blow out your fire or cause it to spread outside your campfire ring. It should be at least 10 feet from trees, shrubs and roots in every direction. Also make sure there are no tree branches hanging over the spot for the campfire ring. This is especially important when there is a fire danger warning or if you are surrounded by green pine trees. They are full of oil that can catch fire and burn at the slightest spark.

Clearing the Campfire Ring

Clear an area about 3 feet in diameter for your campfire ring. Sweep the area of rocks, twigs and leaves.

Create a Campfire Ring Impression

Dig a shallow impression in the ground so that burning logs will roll inward instead of outward. This does not need to be deep. Simply scraping the area in an outward motion with a large stick will do the trick.

Beach Campfire Rings

If your campfire is at the beach, dig a shallow hole with your hands then build a wide rimmed campfire ring out of sand. Be sure to build the walls of the beach campfire ring far from the flames. If someone steps on one of the edges, the sand could consume your campfire and put it out.

Snow Campfire Rings

Campfire rings can also be made out of snow. Dig a hole in the snow and build a wide rimmed campfire ring the same way you would with sand. Snow is actually easier to work with since it holds together better. The hole must go all the way to the frozen ground. If the fire is built on top of snow, it will melt under the flames and put them out. Create a clearing in the snow about four feet in diameter for your snow campfire ring. It is important for the snow walls to be as far away from the flames as possible or they will collapse inward on the fire.

Forest Campfire Rings

For forest campfire rings, gather a bunch of large rocks. Place them in a circle around the shallow impression you dug. Make sure the circle is wide enough to leave a space around the fire. The 3 foot area you swept of debris is a safe distance for an average sized fire. Look for rocks with flat bottoms and avoid stacking them unless they are very stable. You do not want hot rocks rolling away after you ignite your campfire. Also make sure the rocks are dry since wet rocks can blow up.

The Campfire

Stack small twigs and dry kindling inside your campfire ring to get your fire started. Build a pyramid out of larger logs on top of the twigs. This allows the flames to spread upward and ignite the larger pieces of wood. Make sure to leave a generous space between your kindling and logs. A fire needs oxygen to start and grow.

Campfire Safety

Have a pail of sand, dirt or water by the campfire in case the flames get out of hand. It is always better to have it and not use it than to be looking for something to douse a fire when you really need it.

Lighting the Campfire

Light your fire by dropping a lit match in the kindling. Do not use lighter fluid, gasoline or other flammable substances on, in or under the wood. Dropping a match on flammable substances can cause it to flame up or explode in your face. This can singe off your eyebrows, burn your skin and blind you. Allow the fire to grow slowly until it consumes your logs. It may smoke several minutes before you see large flames. Be patient.

Feeding the Campfire

Have extra firewood on hand to feed your campfire. The logs should be dry and cut to a length that will fit easily inside the campfire ring. They should ideally be split down the middle so the dry insides are exposed to the flames. Do not throw logs on to a raging fire. Instead, place one end at the edge of the fire and gently lay it down on top. Do this in a pyramid configuration like you did when you started the campfire.

Cooking Over the Campfire

Allow firewood to burn down to embers to cook over a campfire. The flames will settle down leaving behind intense yet steady heat. The rocks of the campfire ring provide platforms for your cooking tools. You can rest cooking forks on them or lay a grill on top. Experiment with the campfire ring rocks before you light your fire.

Putting Out the Campfire

Let the campfire burn itself out. When the flames are gone, douse the ashes with water. This is especially important if your campfire ring is on the beach. Burying hot embers in the sand is extremely dangerous. They are impossible to see and if someone steps on them, they can suffer severe burns. Ashes can contain enough heat to make a fire flare up again. Leaving the campfire ring in place acts like a warning beacon to beware of the spot.

Campfire Cooking
Campfire Cooking | Source

Preserving the Campfire Ring

Your campfire ring can now be used by the next camper who comes along. Since you went through the effort to make sure the campfire ring was build securely, their campfire will be safe as well. It also acts like a warning beacon to beware potentially hot ashes inside. Before building a campfire ring, check to see that you are allowed to build one. Many parks and beaches forbid campfire rings or fires altogether. Also be aware of the latest burn warnings. During dry, hot, windy weather with low humidity, campfires are often prohibited even inside a campfire ring.

© 2015 Discover the World

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