How to Build A Campfire



Camp Fire in Summer-campfireHow to Build A Campfire | featured

A survivalist worth his salt should know how to build a campfire from scratch. It’s a basic skill that every prepper must possess. This article will guide you about everything you need to know about building campfires.

RELATED: Campfire Infographic | How To Build The Perfect Campfire

Building A Campfire is Easy As 1-2-3

Get Everything ReadyFire hazard risk indicator sign-campfire

First off, find out if a permit is required in your area before starting a campfire. Check with the vicinity’s person-in-charge regarding this. You could talk to a United States Forest Representative if you are camping on the state-owned property or an operator if it’s commercial.

Once the requirements are secured, it is time to check factors like weather and the condition of the area. Humidity and windiness are just some of the aspects you should put into consideration. By doing this, you can prepare suitable fire-building materials as well as ensure the safety of the camp.

Preparing the Campfire SiteYoung couples building campfire near stream-campfire

Commercial camping grounds are ideal for those who want to know how to build a campfire. More often than not, there are already existing fire rings or pit left by campers who have been there first. But if you are camping in non-commercial areas, you will have to start your campfire from scratch.

The first thing that you need to know is to start your campfire on relatively level ground. Secondly, it is a standard procedure that you build your fire at least 20 feet away from your tent or any combustible structures. However, your site must have protection from sudden gusts of wind. This is for safety measures against flying sparks and embers that may cause a fire.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Start A Campfire

Step 1: Building the Fire PitStone Campfire Pit-campfire

Make sure that the whole perimeter of the campfire site is free of any combustible materials. Shrubs and grasses are excellent fire fodders. Clear of the heavy foliage.

Once you are done getting rid of potential fire hazards, it’s time to dig the pit. Dig a three-foot-wide, one-foot deep pit then surround the perimeter with rocks. A shovel and a bucket of water should also be just within reach.

Step 2: Gathering the FirewoodGathering firewood for campfire-campfire

Without wood, there is no campfire. Gathering firewood is a skill. You should learn how to identify a good one from the bad. An easy and effective way to do this is by applying the snap test.

This test is done by breaking a stick in half. If the stick creates a nice snapping sound then you know it’s good firewood. Simple as that.

Step 3: Preparing the Tinder and KindlingSmiling woman leans on her boyfriend who is lighting up the campfire by their tent-campfire

Explained in simple terms, kindling is used to make larger wood catch fire. Tinder, on the other hand, are small combustible materials that help kindling burn quicker. Small dry sticks are good kindling materials while dried leaves, barks, and moss can be used as tinder.

It is good practice that you gather a sufficient amount of tinder for long-term use. This will ensure that you have enough dry tinder to build fire, particularly during unfavorable weather conditions.

Step 4: Arranging the FirewoodMan Arranging Firewood For Bonfire On Lakeside Camping-campfire

Making firewood combustible is no rocket science but not everyone knows how to do it the right way. Fire is basically a combination of heat, fuel, and oxygen. The rule is, the fire should be able to breathe.

Avoid stacking the wood in tight bundles. Instead, make sure that there are gaps in between. This will ensure that air passes through providing enough oxygen to ignite a good fire.

RELATED: How To Properly Build A Fire: A Step By Step Guide With Safety Tips

Step 5: Starting the FireStarting A Campfire With A Fire Striker While Wilderness Camping-campfire

This step is a no-brainer if you have a lighter or a match with you all the time. In the absence of these fancy tools, a Firestarter is a good alternative. You just strike the flint to create a spark and you’re good to go.

Worst comes to worst though, when all of the above are not available, you will have to do it the old school… well, actually, the prehistoric way. There is a lot of YouTube videos that teach you how to build a campfire from scratch. But the main idea is to create heat and friction.

Step 6: Maintaining the FireBonfire-with-sparks-flying-around-campfire

Building a fire is one thing but keeping it burning is another. The worse thing that could happen is your fire burning down without enough wood to rekindle it. The trick here is to keep your fire small.

Keeping your fire small makes you control the burning process easier. This will make the supply of firewood lasts longer. Check on your fire from time to time and add more wood if necessary.

Campfire Safety TipsA-group-of-four-friends-are-sitting-around-the-campfire-and-having-fun-campfire

  • Never build a campfire when it is windy.
  • Using flammable liquids like lighter fluid or kerosene is a no-no.
  • Again, make sure that flammable materials are at a safe distance.
  • Never dump trash such as plastic and tin cans onto the fire.
  • Extinguish fire using water instead of sand to eliminate embers.

Check out this easy firestarter hack by Survival Gear:


No camping is ever complete without a campfire. The thing is, not everyone knows how to start an outdoor fire the proper way. Most of the time, we leave the dirty work to the gang’s handyman because we think it’s hard. News flash. It’s not.

Remember, stay safe and keep that fire burning!

[poll id=”45″]Why do you think gathering around campfires still matters in the age of social media and iPhones? Let us know what you think by posting in the comment section below!

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  1. Renee

    August 12, 2021 at 11:18 AM

    Just read your article on how to build a fire, where the first point made is to dig a pit, which is shown in one of the first photos. All the rest of the photos show building a fire on bare ground, no pit, and often no rocks around the fires. Hmmmm, was that your intention? Minor technicality, but it is a bit of a mixed message…

  2. Bennie Seigler

    August 12, 2021 at 11:36 AM

    Very good info. Most people don’t know how to build a fire. Growing up when we burnt coal and wood, building a fire is simple. I do believe that one day we, as a nation, will be dependent on surval skills. Just My Opinion. Thanks!

  3. Mary

    August 12, 2021 at 11:52 AM

    I thought ash would be good for starting the fire then oak or hickory to keep it burning sine they are harder woods.

  4. Francesca M Austin

    August 12, 2021 at 2:12 PM

    Please show women building fires. I can build a fire better than most of our mail friends and acquaintances. I heated exclusively with wood for over ten years and have built many fires to burn brush. The only woman pictured is leaning on her male friend’s shoulder with an adoring useless look. Puhlease do not depict female campers this way.

  5. Kb

    August 13, 2021 at 8:54 AM

    Francesca austin hey im a guy and agree with you that is kind of uncool ti lump women int the category of unable to do things for themselves lik build fire or mechanics i know women that can work on autimobiles and engines better than some guys. Crap man i brike down during a recent illness she not only helped me out by fixing my car after asking me if i knew what was wrong with it. Which i knew and how ti fix it but being ill couldnt do it fir myself. So i played my acoustic while she fixed the car. Well worth it. Turns out she was a motorpool mechanic in the army. So what building a campfire is a snap.

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