One of the most magical parts of camping is sitting around the campfire with a beverage in hand, chatting away and – of course – singing along! But how to make the cliched (typically American) TV dream become your reality, you wonder? Well, it’s really not as difficult as it may initially seem, especially if you follow our quick and easy steps…
The Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Campfire
Follow these steps for a surefire way to get your campfire burning:
- Check the weather! If the grounds are expected to be damp or wet then you should bring sufficient newspaper, cardboard boxes and lint. Also, this will save you from getting your hopes up if you already know it’s set to rain!
- Find or make a clearing for the fire pit. Ideally, fires should be constructed on bare dirt as it’s the safest and most convenient terrain. If you’re camping in a campsite then make sure to follow the guidelines and use the designated areas, and if you’re camping elsewhere please make sure your fire is away from any flammable woodland debris.
- Dig a large dent into the ground where you’d like to build your campfire. The centre should be the lowest point to allow for the best fire control and to act as a container of the ashes afterwards.
- Collect medium-sized stones from the area and position them in a circle around the dent. This will help set a boundary and contain the fire.
- Prepare extinguishing tools and materials – such as buckets of water, a fire extinguisher – so that you’re protected before the fire-starting happens.
- Gather your tinder and kindling wood and make sure it’s dry and dead. Dry leaves, dry bark, dry glass and any dry bits of wood are perfect to be used as tinder. Kindling wood – that’ll start the spark – will be small dry branches and twigs.
- Collect your firewood from the area surrounding your pit. These dry pieces of wood should be about the length and width of your arms.
- Create a bleeding of tinder inside the fire pit, laying it towards the centre.
- Stack the kindling wood in the shape of a tepee over the tinder – this method has proved to be most successful for top explorers at Trespass HQ. Keep adding more until it takes a solid structure, then add the firewood against the pieces to strengthen the tepee. Leave a space in the wind’s direction so air can flow!
- Light a match or a gas lighter and slowly bring it closer to the tinder until the flame sparks and tinder catches fire. Make sure you get an adult to do this!
- Keep adding new pieces of firewood as the fire burns and wood starts to disintegrate. This will keep it going!
When it’s time to put the fire out, gradually sprinkle water onto it and save the buckets of water or extinguisher for large fires that must be put out immediately. When the fire dies down, use a long stick to mix the ashes and check that all of the embers are dying and put out. Once the ashes are cold, you’ll know it’s fully out.
Fire is always to be taken with heaps of caution as it can quickly spell disaster if not handled with care. You and your fellow campers’ safety is paramount, so make sure you follow our guidelines for building a campfire safely and stick to tried-and-tested methods – don’t take unknown shortcuts.
Campfire Safety Do’s:
- Only build a bonfire when the weather conditions are favourable
- Burn your ‘fuel’ (i.e. wood) in small quantities and quickly in order to minimise the volume of smoke
- Pay attention to any bonfire bans, cautions or regulations in the area
- Make sure to keep your fire contained
- Watch out for and remove any extra wood, dead grass or anything that might add too much fuel to the fire, allow it to spread or grow beyond your control
Campfire Safety Don’ts:
- Never leave your fire unattended
- Never burn toxic materials – such as plastic – as it can produce poisonous smoke and fumes
- Never light a bonfire in strong winds, near hanging branches, fences or residences as fire can spread quickly
- Never use accelerants to boost your fire, such as pouring gasoline over the flames
- Never leave glowing embers or part-extinguished flames before vacating the site as these could relight
As Bonfire Night is quickly approaching, we’ll be seeing campfires and fireworks on display all over the country. Bear in mind that the safety measures we’ve listed can also be applied to fireworks. Have fun – responsibly!