Campfire 101: Expert Tips for Building a Safe Fire


Nothing removes the cold in the air like a good campfire. As the days get shorter and the temperature begins to drop, it will also be tempting to throw some bits of wood into the fire pit to keep warm, roast some marshmallows, or simply enjoy the cozy glow with friends. But building a good fire isn’t as simple as throwing a load of logs on the ground and setting them on fire. This kind of random shooting isn’t entirely safe either – especially these days, when Forest fires It has become very popular.

So, what are the keys to a good campfire? We consulted the experts to find out. Here’s how to be the hero on your next night under the stars.

1. Safety first

Over the past few years in particular, wildfires have devoured vast tracts of land all over the world. According to the US Department of the Interior, 90 percent Many wildfires in the United States are started by people – so it is essential to practice proper fire safety. Before you start your first match, there are a few things to consider. First and foremost, consult the latest local mandates regarding campfires.

“There are certain days or periods throughout the year when campfires are restricted by dry conditions, winds, or prolonged drought, which increases the risk of severe fires,” says US Forest Service spokesman Babette Anderson. men’s magazine. “When planning a fire, assess the local conditions of the area you are visiting and follow the guidelines that have been set in place.”

When visiting the National Forest or National Park, for example, check the nearest ranger station for current fire restrictions. Also keep in mind that these restrictions can change on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.

Even if local authorities give the go-ahead for campfires, it’s worth taking a closer look at your surroundings. Common sense is crucial here: If there is a lot of dry brush and debris nearby, avoid fire.

2. Build a good fire pit

A good campfire starts with a good fire pit. If you have one, or if there is a fire ring at your camp site, use it. If not, you will need to select your location, choosing the right location is key. As Thomas Quinn, an expert from Queen Schools of SurvivalExplain that you want to avoid building your fire pit in heavily wooded areas or areas prone to high winds.

“Keep the area around the fire completely clear of all debris or vegetation,” he says. “Build it somewhere away from the wind or create a good hedge with rocks or tree stumps.”

This way, you can reduce the possibility of your fire getting out of control.

“The three keys to a fugitive campfire are cinder blocks.” [hot embers from your fire being carried away in the wind], undisinfected areas around the crater, and excessive lengths of flame,” Quinn says.

Once you locate a location, begin removing any leftover and loose brush. Next, create a shallow hole in the ground and surround it with rocks. This will give your fire some protection from the wind and keep the flames from flying too hard.

3. Collect your fuel

Every great fire begins as a scavenger hunt. You need to collect three types of fuel: ignition, burning and logs.

Tinder is the little things that are very combustible. Quinn recommends using birch bark or dried pine needles — although many other materials can work just as well.

“Birch trees have a non-living outer layer of bark that peels off easily,” he says. “It is rich in volatile oil which makes it virtually waterproof and makes it burn very hard. You can dip this stuff in the lake and light it up with Bic.”

Likewise, dead pine needles contain volatile oils and resin that make them waterproof and help them burn intensely.

“They don’t have the density of a thick piece of birch, so they burn more quickly, but they burn more intensely and with a longer length of fire,” Quinn says.

Kindling is heavier than Tinder but still small enough to be picked up easily. Quinn recommends bits of dead wood ranging from the size of a pen to the handle of a hammer. Last but not least, whole firewood, which can range in size from the handle of a hammer to large logs. In this case, hardwoods are generally your best bet.

“Hardwoods like oak burn for a long time and leave a lot of coal,” he says. “Big coals are responsible for a lot of the heat from a good campfire and a good bed of coals alone can keep you warm for hours.”

4. Build your own fire

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, it’s time to build a structure that you’ll burn right away (at least, that’s the point). In Coyne’s experiment, the classic “teepee” construction works best. Basically this means putting the adhesive in the center, then arranging the bump around it, then the wood pieces around the hole, all in a cone shape.

This shape encourages convection, which helps your fire burn hotter and more consistently. Once ignited, the flame rapidly heats the air and rises, drawing in the surrounding air and supplying the fire with oxygen.

“This forms a convection current, which some lumberjacks call a self-feeding fire,” Quinn says. “Do you know how to blow on a fire and it burns more? Now he’s blowing on himself, so to speak.”

In addition, as the flame grows, it is in an ideal position to catch and burn the flame and the logs placed above it in the tent structure.

5. Keep your fire burning

Shooting can be difficult. Keeping it burning can be more difficult—especially in wet weather. To keep the fire burning, Coyne recommends switching to a “log cabin” arrangement once your fire has developed into hot coals.

“Once you have a nice bed of red-hot coals piled up in your pit, you can start setting the wood on the fire horizontally, in a log cabin fashion, so that it burns more slowly,” he explains.

With that said, keep an eye on your records as soon as you add them. If they form a thick layer of charcoal outside, they will ignite rather than burn and emit a lot of smoke. If that happens, adjust the logs so they are more exposed to the air, Quinn says.

“Just prop one end up a bit to allow air to flow around it and help re-ignite the log.”

6. Stop the smoke

Everyone loves a good campfire, but is there anything more annoying than constantly changing positions to avoid too much wood smoke? Although there is no way to completely stop smoking, there are some things you can do to reduce it.

“Smoke is a sign of incomplete combustion, which means you need to make the fire hotter,” Quinn says. “If your fire is very smoky, either the wood is too wet, or you haven’t used enough firewood, or the wood pieces are too large for the existing flame and coals, or your pieces are laying flat on the coals and need air circulation.”

Try to modify the records. If that doesn’t work, add more grit and make sure all the wood you add is dry.

7. Take it out properly

If you are going to start a fire, it is your responsibility to make sure you put it out properly when you are done. Extinguishing a fire sounds like a simple task, and at its core: you need to flood it. (Burrying a fire will not completely extinguish a hot coal.)

But what surprises a lot of people is how precise you need to be. One bucket of water won’t cut it – you need to keep adding water to the fire to smother the logs and all the burning material in your fire pit.

“Put out the campfire by slowly pouring water over the fire and stirring with a shovel,” Anderson says. Keep adding and stirring until all items are cool to the touch.

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