Camping is one of our favorite activities. There's nothing better than sitting around a fire, roasting marshmallows with friends and family. But it's super important to know the right way to start and put out a campfire to avoid disaster.
Starting a Fire
Step 1: Find a good place for it. You'll want to use a fire ring or a grill. If you can't find one of those, make your own ring with rocks. Just make sure that there aren't any low-hanging branches nearby that could easily start on fire. Once your find a good spot, clear away anything that was left behind by the last people. You should be starting your fire on sand, gravel or mineral soil
Step 2: Gather your materials. You'll need three things:
- Tinder - small twigs or dry leaves
- Kindling - small sticks
- Firewood - larger pieces of wood, but nothing wider than an adult's wrist
Make sure to only use local firewood, as you don't want to bring in any insects that wouldn't naturally live in that area, and don't cut down any trees or branches to use for wood.
Step 3: Build your fire. There are two easy ways to do this, and each one is best for a certain situation:
- Teepee - start with laying your tinder out in a circle. Stand the kindling up around your tinder in the shape of a teepee. Keep adding layers around, working your way up to the bigger pieces of wood.
- The teepee burns hot and fast, so it's good for keeping warm and roasting marshmallows, but it's not so good if you're wanting a fire that will last a while.
- Log Cabin - start with your pile of tinder in the middle. Then, place your firewood in a square around it. Layer kindling and firewood to make squares over each other (kind of like Jenga, without the middle pieces).
- This fire is low maintenance and burns slowly, so it's ideal for cooking.
Step 4: Light it up! Use a lighter or a match to get your fire started. Avoid using gasoline or diesel. Instead, lightly blow on the flame to increase the oxygen flow. As it burns, keep moving things to the middle. Ideally, you want to burn everything to white ash, so you don't leave anything behind.
Putting Out a Fire
Step 1: Pour water over the flames. Water is the only thing you should use. Don't use soil, as the embers can continue burning underneath it, even if you can't see it. The ashes should be cool to the touch before you leave the site.
Step 2: Only leave ash. Anything else that didn't burn all the way should go in the trash. Avoid burning things like plastic, cans or foil, as they won't burn all the way down, and they are terrible for the environment.
- Don't light a fire if it's super dry or windy, and always check fire restrictions before starting yours.
- Make sure your fire is at least 10 feet away from your tent or anything else that could burn easily.
- Keep your fire just big enough for cooking and keeping warm.
- Have a bucket of water nearby, just in case you need it.
- NEVER leave your fire unattended.