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How to Build a Campfire [Tutorial]

  • 5/27/2015 10:39:00 AM
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How to build a campfire [tutorial] | Iowa DNRIt’s just not a campout without a crackling fire (and the s’mores and hot dogs to roast over it). If building a solid campfire has always eluded you, here are some simple tips to make sure your next campfire keeps blazing bright. 

Pick the right starter materials. Just throwing a few pieces of firewood in the ring isn’t enough. Start with some tinder – small twigs and dry materials like leaves, grass or pine needles, which burn quickly – and some kindling in the center of the fire ring. Make sure to use a fire ring provided at the campsite to help keep the fire contained, and have water nearby to put out the fire quickly if needed. Keep in mind that you can use downed wood found in a state park for a campfire, but it’s illegal to cut any living vegetation. It's also best to buy firewood locally to avoid moving forest pests.

Know your kindling. Kindling is larger sticks, but you may want to add in a homemade firestarter to get things started faster (check our Iowa Camping board on Pinterest for ideas). You can lean the kindling up against each other, like a teepee, or cross it over the tinder. You can also stack the kindling or firewood in a rectangle or square around the tinder. Make sure your kindling and firewood are dry, and to leave room for air to fuel the fire.

Get the party started. Light the tinder with a match or lighter (don’t use lighter fluid or gas). As the fire gets larger, add more tinder, then kindling, and finally, more firewood, to keep the fire going. When you add new material, make sure to leave space between the logs to allow air into the fire – that keeps the fire going so you can have second helpings on those hot dogs.

Keep an eye on things. Campfires are meant to be sat around and enjoyed – so don’t leave it unattended. If you need to leave the campsite or head into the tent or camper for the night, make sure the fire has gone out (it can take 20 minutes or more, so plan ahead). Keep a close eye on things to make sure the fire is contained in the fire ring and doesn’t grow too large. Be sure to teach children about safety around campfires and keep them supervised as they roast those marshmallows.

For more ideas, visit our Iowa Camping board on Pinterest.