Campfire Basics


For many years now a campfire has been the centerpiece of camp gatherings.


Setting the ambiance for a romantic, luminous and dreamlike force of nature, it has become a tradition for many. Over the years campfires has diminished for a number of reasons, though still a cherished institution at drive in campgrounds. There are a number of Campfire Basics that will come in handy when making campfires, all discussed in this article.



Campfire at Campgrounds

  • Check with a campground operator when camping at a developed site to make sure if fires are permitted. Severe dry periods can prohibit the make of camp fires at certain campgrounds.
  • In the case of car camping in an undeveloped site you might need to get a permit to make a campfire. Take the responsibility and find out about the regulations and maintaining your fire before making a fire.
  • Most campgrounds may put a ban on you bringing your own fire wood from home as it may introduce unwanted and troublesome insects. A lot of campgrounds have their own firewood available that is safe for use. Contact the campground before hand to find out if this is allowed or not and ask them for advice in this regard. If you need yo cut down your own fire wood then a quality Multi Tool with a saw blade is just what you need. This article has some great advice on multi tools as well as the different features that they have.
  • A lot of wildlife and birds make their homes in dead trees. Never break branches or cut down trees. Rather pick up fallen branches far from your site.
  • Before making a fire you need to evaluate the site to determine what size the fire should be and also where you should place it. If there is a designated fire ring or fireplaces you should use those areas and never make your own. Keep your fire away from hanging branches and bushy areas as fly away embers can cause big bush fires.



Campfire in the Backcountry


  • There has been a lot of depletion of ground cover due to wood gathering.
  • Scars have been left in many natural settings due to fire rings and their sooty residue.
  • Runaway fires have been cause by poorly tended fires.
  • Backcountry fires have become nearly obsolete by the use of backpacking stoves. These stoves are also lightweight, clean and fuel efficient.


Fire regulations vary from park to park. It is always best to ask in advance what the prohibitions and regulations are.

In case of an emergency a fire can save your life. When wet, cold or on the brink of hypothermia the following guidelines will help you when building a fire.




  • Rangers normally provide you with fire-related information and it is such a benefit to learn these off by heart. When going on trail heads you need to look out for signs in regards to fires and fire dangers and be aware of dry conditions. It is your responsibility to know what the regulations and restrictions are.
  • Only gather downed wood far from your site to prevent the area from becoming denuded over time. Never break off branches or cut of hanging branches.
  • Thick wood rarely burn completely and leave behind blackened scraps, choose branches that aren’t thicker than an adult’s wrist so it can burn through completely.
  • Always use an existing fire ring first before building your own. When there isn’t one and you have to build your own you should remember to dismantle it when you are done and clean out an existing one before departing.
  • The bottom of your pit should ideally be sand or gravel and it shouldn’t have any flammable material near it. Choose your site conscientiously as intense heat can sterilize healthy soil.
  • When you need to build a fire in case of an emergency you need to keep in mind, especially when fires aren’t permitted, to keep the fire small, don’t pile on the landscape. Ffirestarters and waterproof matches are two things you should never leave home without.
  • A mound fire is a fire that has been built on a plat platform with soil at the base; this is a good alternative to a fire ring. The idea behind the mound fire is to avoid sterilizing any plants and soil.
  • Clean your pit out from any leftover coals. Dismantle the structure you have built and scatter the leftover coals throughout over a wide area. Doing this will have long lasting effects on how the area will be sustained.



Starting and Extinguishing a Campfire


  • A fire can be started by gathering twigs, and small sticks and converting these into a cone like form, forest duff is placed inside the cone. Use waterproof matches to light your fire.
  • Add wood as the fire’s temp increases and move embers to the middle of the fire to burn them out completely.
  • Never burn trash items like plastic, foil or cans. Items should only be burned if they can burn to ash completely. If something did burn completely it must be discarded in a trash bag or bin.
  • You should never leave your campfire unattended.
  • If you want to dry out clothes you need to remember not to hand it directly above the fire as it can dry out and burn, hang it away from the fire but close enough to still get heat to dry.
  • Use water to extinguish a fire, you can stir the ashes as you pour the water over to make sure you properly extinguish the fire. Ashes should always be completely cool before leaving the campsite and you should always double check the fire is indeed out. Different camping tools can be used for this task such as a shovel. Read here to find out more about some of the most needed camping tools.




Campfires can be vital in emergencies, although they can be fun when camping even though a lot of sites may also restrict the making of fires. You should always take responsibility for your fire and find out about the regulations set by the site Rangers. You should know how to build a proper fire, maintain it and extinguish it in the right manner. Most importantly, you should always be safe. These Campfire Basics are just some info to help you enjoy nature a bit more but also please use common sense when working with fire.


If you are a parent and you are planning to go camping with kids then then following article is just for you. Packed with loads of ideas and tips on how to keep the kids entertained for the entire time while still having loads of fun.


If you need some more Camping Tips then be sure to head over and read this great article that will help you enjoy your time out camping a whole lot more.

Safety should always be one of your main concerns, especially when dealing with fire. As such you should have a look at this great list of Camping Safety items and advice, should there accidentally go some thing wrong and first aid is needed.


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