How to Build a Campfire
Video by Michaela Parker
Cooler temperatures mean it’s campfire season! There’s nothing like spending time outside roasting marshmallows over an open fire. Whether you’re in your back yard or on a camping trip, knowing how to build a campfire is a skill everyone needs to know! You never know when knowing how to build one will come in handy.
- Prepare your area. It’s recommended to select an area away from flammable materials. Choose an open area that’s clear of trees. If you’re building a campfire from the ground up, build a border around your campfire area with rocks or a water trench to ensure the fire doesn’t spread.
- Gather materials. To build a fire, you’ll need a variety of dry items. Collect newspaper, wood shavings, pine straw, or dryer lint to get your fire started. You’ll also need to gather twigs, sticks, and small limbs to keep your fire blazing.
- Build your fire. To build your fire, you will want to arrange your starter materials, such as newspapers, wood shavings, pine straw, or dryer lint. Combine the material into a pile, then place small twigs and limbs on top of it. Carefully light the starter materials on fire. Once you have a flame, add larger twigs and limbs to help build the fire. Add larger pieces of wood on top of your fire to maintain the fire. If the flames seem to be struggling, blow on the materials at the lowest level, or use newspaper to create air flow.
- Extinguish your fire. When you’re finished with your campfire, pour water on the fire to extinguish it. Do not leave your fire burning after you’re finished.
As enjoyable as a campfire can be, it can also be dangerous when not handled with care. It’s important to consider these three safety tips when building fires:
- Never leave a fire unattended. Even with small fires, it can get out of control quickly. Keep your eye on your campfire to ensure your fire does not get out of hand.
- Always be prepared for emergencies. Have a water source and shovel nearby to extinguish any flames that have spread out of your designated area.
- Only use dry wood and wood products. Don’t use items that are treated, including plastics, which can release chemicals when on fire.
If you’d like more information on how to properly build a campfire, check out Extension Publication 3277, “How to Build a Campfire.”
To help reduce the spread of tree pests, such as emerald ash borer, do not carry firewood across state borders. Learn more about emerald ash borer in Extension Publication 2896, "Signs and Symptoms of Emerald Ash Borer."
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