Camping is perhaps the most popular outdoor leisure activity. People gather around campfires to roast marshmallows, play games, and tell stories. Campfires can be a source of entertainment, warmth, and relaxation. If you’re new to camping, you may be wondering how to build a roaring campfire.
How To Build a Roaring Campfire
If you go on an expedition (voluntary or forced) in the wilderness, you will at some point want to improve the spartan comfort of your camp. And what could be better after having built a shelter, found water and food (unless you brought freeze-dried food) than to cook your meat or warm up around a campfire?
However, we often start with the prejudice that making a campfire is extremely complicated, and almost impossible if you don’t have a minimum of equipment.
Today, I wanted to show you that this is a misconception. In fact, if you remember a few basic principles, making a fire can be quite easy. This is good news because it is often a matter of survival, especially at night or if you are in a cold environment.
Choose your location well
Before you even start looking for fuel, you’ll need to find the right place to build a campfire.
The first thing to consider is your safety. Indeed, building a fire in the middle of a forest or a plain of dry grass and dead leaves.
You want to keep warm, not start a fire. So before you build a campfire, remember to remove any dry leaves or grass that could catch fire. Set a perimeter of at least one and a half meters, and think about the wind direction to protect your shelter or your car.
How to secure your campfire?
You will also need to consider the location of your campfire in relation to your survival shelter. The direction of the wind will help you avoid setting a fire or smoking yourself. But make it close enough to keep you warm at night.
Prepare your campfire
Once you’ve found the right spot, you’ll need to prepare it properly. We’ve already seen that you need to create a space 1.5 to 2 meters in diameter. But also remove the needles, twigs and dead leaves.
Also remember to rake the area around your campfire and bring some water and a shovel to be able to control the beginning of fire if necessary. If you are not really a fire pro, I advise you to start gradually. It’s best to avoid large fires that you will have trouble putting out if something goes wrong. If you plan to cook with a wood fire, a small fire will avoid blackening your dishes and will allow you to better control the cooking.
Finding the right fuel
Once you’ve got your campfire site set up, you’ll need to find the right fuel. What you need is a starting fuel to get the fire going, but also good wood to make it last.
The key is to prepare your fuel well in advance, so you won’t find yourself unprepared once the fire has started.
The starting fuel
To start your fire, you need a fuel that is easily ignitable. You can use newspapers, for example. But you can also use dry grass, resin-impregnated wood chips, twigs or dead leaves. This is the sub-fire that you will light and it will burn fast and strong enough for the rest of your wood to catch fire.
According to bushcraft experts, the best starting fuel would be Amadou. This is a small fungus that is usually found on the bark of trees and contains moss that helps the embers last.
If you don’t have any paper on you, or your environment is too humid, use the gasoline from your lighter to start the fire.
Be careful to be quick, however, as gasoline tends to evaporate very quickly. Also, if the ground is too wet, don’t hesitate to dig a little to find dry earth.
Before you start your campfire, be sure to collect wood. Start with twigs from the ground (twigs on branches don’t burn as well). Then take pieces of wood of different sizes. Dead branches are best. They are less humid when they are still on the tree, and burn better than live branches.
You can, however, take some wet wood that will dry near the fire to feed it afterwards. The worst is green wood, which is not a good fuel at all. The trick is to find a good balance between wet wood (and unusable) and wood that is too dry and will burn too quickly.
What to use to start your campfire
Now that you’ve found the right fuel, let’s move on to the different methods you can use to start your campfire. In reality, it all depends on what you have on hand. And your technicality in the matter.
Because if some survival specialists claim that you can start a fire simply with a magnifying glass or flints, it is not really within the reach of a beginner.
And if you don’t have long hours ahead of you, a simpler technique will certainly be more appropriate. After that, it is always useful to know these historical methods, which are the most realistic in terms of survival.
Well, you certainly know what I’m talking about. The lighter is the camper’s basic necessity if he wants to start a fire. It’s not certain that after a nuclear disaster you’ll have one at hand, but if you’re going on a trek, a lighter won’t weigh you down. Or ruin you for that matter.
But be careful to keep them dry. Because your lighter won’t be of much help if it gets wet. Or you’ll have to wait a while for it to dry. So, make sure you have a large stock of bic lighters, which you can spread around in your pockets and your bag. But also in your car, for more precaution.
The zippo is the rich man’s lighter. If it costs much more, it is also more effective because it is waterproof.
Beware of the small gap between the lid and the rest of your zippo. But by using a little plastic and tape, you should be able to make it more waterproof. And even if it does get wet, you can just take it apart and change the stone and wick. Or let them dry and use the gasoline in your zippo.