The Ultimate Guide to Building a Fire
In our ultimate campfire guide, we'll cover some of the most common methods used for building a fire and help you understand the finer points of starting a fire, as well as keeping it going when you find yourself staying overnight in the wild.
What You'll Need to Start a Fire
There's more to creating a fire than just matches and wood.
Step 1: Start with tinder
Before you can start placing small sticks and twigs on your fire, you'll first need to collect a decent amount of tinder. This can be any type of material that is capable of taking a spark and maintaining an ember long enough to catch fire and produce enough heat to burn with a flame. Some of the most common types of kindling are dried moss, bark shavings, dry leaves, pine needles or tiny pieces of dead wood.
Step 2: Add kindling to the small flame
One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to start a fire is adding too much kindling to a small amount of tinder. You'll want to allow the tinder to become a sizable flame before slowly adding individual pieces of kindling in the form of small sticks or strips of bark. Doing this gradually ensures that the flame can breathe and get enough oxygen to continue burning and growing as you add more material.
Step 3: Fuel in the form of logs
Lastly, once you have a decent-sized fire that you've continually built up using larger and larger sticks, it's ready to place a large log on the blaze and sit back and relax. Depending on what style fire you're building, you may already have much of the log structure built.
Types of Fire Structure
Each one of these fire structures has its own set of benefits and advantages, as well as disadvantages that might make it more less useful depending on your own specific needs.
The Log Cabin fire requires that you have a good amount of logs at the start of your fire. The benefit is that log cabin fires are built in a way that cut down on work once it's well-lit. How to Build a Log Cabin Fire: The log cabin method requires that a person simply stack the logs in a square pattern (think Lincoln Logs), which leaves the middle space open and serves as an ideal spot for your tinder and kindling.
This is the least difficult strategy fire building technique.
How to Build a Star Pattern Fire: Place the sticks in a ‘star' pattern that are essentially crisscrossed in a way that evenly spreads the wood material out and allows plenty of oxygen to reach every part of the burning logs.
One of the reasons why this type of fire is so popular among soldiers and others who need to remain discreet is that it limits the amount of light that is given off by the fire itself as the logs help to block it from being seen. Additionally, teepee campfires lock in heat and becomes an excellent style of fire for cooking over.
How to Build a Teepee fire: Evenly place the logs around the pile of tinder and kindling so that the structure resembles a teepee. Light your tinder and kindling, then slowly add larger logs that reinforce the structure.
This is a very easy type of fire to make and is, hands-down, the best style of fire for cooking over as it creates a level surface that burns a good amount of wood, giving off ample amounts of heat the whole time.
The platform fire is also more sturdy than others and will ensure that the logs don't fall and as they burn, which could create an uneven surface that will result in a great loss of heat.
How to Build a Platform Campfire: Lay logs flat on the ground in a similar style as you would to build a log cabin fire. Continue laying logs perpendicular until your stack is about 1-2 feet high. Now here's where it gets different from the log cabin. Place your tinder and kindling bundle on top of the platform structure and light. Your fire will burn from top to bottom, creating a platform of hot coals on which you can put pots, pans, or any other cooking vessel.
There are few greater joys than sitting by a crackling fire with your favorite Creek blend of moist snuff. Now that you've brushed up on your campfire building skills, the only thing left to do is get out there and enjoy the escape!