ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Build a Campfire

Updated on August 11, 2020
Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores and her family enjoy primitive camping on an island in the Adirondacks in upstate New York.

from an old postcard
from an old postcard

A campfire creates romantic memories – childhood nights with mom and dad melting marshmallows for S’mores, or late night conversations with old friends or building new ones. Campfires fuel camaraderie, harken back to simpler times and help us remember the words of songs we thought we forgot.

Campfires connect us with past cultures, history and literature. Sometimes you just can’t wait to dig out the old Ernest Hemingway books.

But a campfire isn’t all scorched hot-dogs and Kumbaya. A campfire can create a pretty nasty impact on the environment, depleting food and habitat for animals as well as the building blocks of the forest floor. A campfire can leave a huge mess in a pristine area – busted up trees, half-burnt logs and charred rocks. Not to mention the possibility of forest fire.

Campfires can be dangerous. Damp rocks heated to the boiling point can explode! You can burn yourself or your equipment. So safety is a huge issue.

If you must have a fire, follow the posted rules of your campground. These rules are not in place to spoil your fun but for the safety of you and the forest.

Fire Site and Wood

Fire Site
Locate your fire in a level area free of debris and duff (the fine fluffy stuff that makes the forest floor) that could catch fire and spread the flame. Avoid overhanging tree limbs or nearby shrubbery. Build your fire well away from your tents, tarps or camping equipment. Clear the area of leaves and twigs. Keep a pot of water nearby. (Be careful not to step in the pot of water!)

Never hack or chop standing or living trees. Bring in your own wood or gather dead fall if that is allowed. If using deadfall, collect it at a distance from your campsite (so that the surrounding area is not stripped of fallen wood).

  • Fir, pine and spruce ignite quickly but produce dense smoke and throw dangerous sparks.
  • Hard woods such as maple and oak, while hard to ignite, make for a good steady fire with fewer sparks and little smoke. Hard woods are good for cooking and add a pleasant flavor to food.
  • Use dry, deadwood as fresh, green wood creates a lot of smoke.
  • Do not transport wood from one state to another. You may be responsible for introducing troublesome insects to a wilderness area.

Cute film on how to build a fire.

How to Build a Campfire

Building the Fire

Many campgrounds provide fireplaces or fire rings. If so, build your fire in the designated area. If not, locate a sheltered area out of the wind. Do not build a fire on a windy night.

  • Teepee Fire

A teepee fire is easy to start and kept conveniently small and easy to control.
1) Assemble tinder – dried grasses, pine needles, wood shavings, shredded paper, lint, wood dust, or fallen bird nests.
2) Kindling – thin, dry twigs built in a teepee shape over your tinder.
3) Add larger sticks following the basic teepee shape.
4) Light the tinder; add larger pieces of wood as the fire catches.

  • Portable Pan Fire or Portable Fireplace

A portable fireplace with a mesh cover lifts the fire off the ground and encloses the flames. Many commercial versions are available.
A fire pan provides an inexpensive, low-impact fire. You can use the metal top of a garbage can, and old drain pan or pick up a hog-feeding pan at your local feed store. Raise the pan on rocks and use small pieces of wood.

  • Pit fire

A shallow pit can be dug in an area with little duff. Dig a shallow hole to expose bare soil. A grate can be easily laid over the colas for cooking. Clean up is easy and the chance of the fire spreading is small.

Safety Tips

  • Do not build a fire near trees or brush.

  • Do not build a fire on a windy day as embers can blow away to ignite brush.

  • Never leave a fire burning without an attendant. One person should be in charge of the fire at all times so there is not confusion.

  • Do not allow kids to ‘play’ with the fire but instruct them on fire-safety. Teach them how to start the fire and let them help.

  • Do not allow horseplay or running around the fire area.

  • Do not toss wood on fire (but place carefully) as this can send up dangerous sparks.

  • Keep a ‘fire stick’ on hand to tend the fire, to keep the fire together and watch out for burning pieces that may fall outward.

How to Put Out a Campfire

1) Allow the fire to die down.

2) Push coals toward the center of the fire

3) Sprinkle water on cooled coals and surrounding area.

4) Stir the remains, breaking up coals.

5) Sprinkle with water again.

6) Hold your hand over the fire to see if you can detect any heat. If not, sift through by hand to make sure the fire is dead.

7) If the fire is not in an established fire ring or fireplace, bury the dead fire with dirt and tramp down.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)