How To Safely Start A Camp Fire

You’ve been hiking all day, it’s cold and you’re starving… it’s time to pitch the tent, start a camp fire and grab some grub. Without a camp fire you’ll be in for a long, miserable night. When starting a camp fire in the backcountry you can’t just grab some sticks and light them up. In today’s post we’ll give you tips on how to safely start a camp fire and how to extinguish the flame when you’re moving out. If only fire extinguishers were light enough for our packs.

Set up your camp fire spot:
1. Clear the area of any loose debris and dry grass
2. Dig a small pit for the fire, or use a ring of rocks to designate the fire area
3. Don’t build your fire under a canopy of trees
4. Make sure your tent is at least 15 feet from the fire – a lot of tents are made from nylon and they will burn fast!

Tools you can use to start the fire:
1. Matches
2. Lighter
3. Fire Starter / Fire Steel
4. Old fashion rubbing to sticks together
5. Fuel (if you have it)

What to burn:
1. Fallen tree branches and deadwood
2. Pine straw, bark and large leaves
3. Logs

Building the fire:
1. Start with kindle and smaller branches
2. Build a pyramid / tepee shape
3. Add larger branches and logs as fire grows

Putting the fire out:
1. Cover entire fire with dirt
2. Use water (if you’re located by a river or lake… don’t use drinking water)
3. Stir the dirt to make sure fire is out

I hope these tips will help you next time you find yourself in a fire building situation. Remember, oxygen is the lifeline of any fire – without oxygen you will have no flame. So be sure to properly pick the spot for your fire pit, build the fire so oxygen can get in, and have a plan set on how you will extinguish the flame.

Also, check with the park service where ever you may be. Some places don’t allow camp fires unless you’re in a designated campground and some parks have restrictions on what you can burn.

camp fire
Photo by Podknox on Flickr

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