How to Build a Campfire

For tens of thousands of years man has relied on the illumination, warmth, and cooking capabilities provided by fire. Although it is no longer vital to daily human survival, a fire can save your life in a survival situation.

Just as there are several ways to start a fire, there are several ways to build a fire. The proper technique can mean the difference between staying warm and enjoying a hot meal or suffering from hypothermia.

Step 1: Preparing the Area

It is critical to always put safety first. If there is a designated area for creating campfires in your campsite, make sure to use it. If you are off the beaten path, create your own fire bed in a clearing away from bushes, trees, tall grass and other brush. Also, make sure to build the fire on bare earth and not grass. If you cannot find a bare area, it is necessary to dig and rake away any flammable plants. Once the area is clear, gather dirt and add it to the center of the area. Construct a raised platform between 3 and 4-inches high.

Step 2: Gathering Materials

There are three types of materials required for building a campfire: tinder, kindling, and fuel wood.



Starting a campfire requires tinder that easily ignites and burns hot. In the wildness, the best tinder includes dry leaves, wood shavings, dry grass, dry bark and a variety of fungi. However, it is wise to bring your own. This is especially important during wet weather.


Next you need kindling, which will burn longer but hot enough to ignite your fuel wood. Search for small branches the width of a pencil that is dry. If you can only find wet twigs, whittle them into thinner pieces.

Fuel Wood

Fuel wood allows the fire to continue burning and keep a hot temperature. Fuel wood does not need to consist of huge logs which could take a long time to catch fire. Instead, search for branches that are the width of your wrist to forearm.

Step 3: Laying the Logs

Next, you want to lay the wood in a specific pattern to produce the best results. This can consist of one of three methods:


Lay the kindling, then logs around your tinder so it resembles a teepee.

Teepee fire


Stack a pile of kindling and logs at an angle over your kindling.

Lean to fire

Log Cabin

Construct a small teepee of tinder and kindling surrounded by stacked logs.

Log cabin fire

Step 4: Extinguishing the Fire

It is critical to extinguish your fire thoroughly by following these steps:

  1. Give yourself plenty of time.
  2. Sprinkle water over the fire.
  3. Stir the embers while sprinkling the water to ensure all ashes become wet.
  4. Cover the embers with sand to smother them.

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