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How to Build a Campfire

Building a Campfire

STEP 1: PERMITS - Ensure you are in an area approved for campfires and ensure that you have attained any permits necessary to enjoy your campfire. This area should be free from flammable materials, foliage growth, and overhanging tree branches.

STEP 2: PREPARATION - Clear a circle between 1 to 2 meters from the intended fire pit. Ensure this area is free of excess pine needles, leaves, long grass, and fallen branches. Scoop a depression in the center of the cleaned area in which to build your fire, and encircle this area with rocks. If possible, douse the area with water, keeping the fire pit area dry. Note that you should not use wet or damp rocks to line your fire pit as they can heat up and explode.

STEP 3: FUEL - Wood is the basic ingredient in any campfire. Whenever possible, use old dried wood from conifers (evergreen / needle-based trees). Remember that pine, cedar, and spruce will start a fire quickly but will also burn at a greater rate. Woods such as oak, ash and maple will burn longer but are more difficult to ignite as they are hardwood. Aspen, birch and poplar are quite common and they make good fires as they burn hot but fairly fast. Another thing you will need is tinder (very fine kindling). Most materials will work, as long as they are dead, dry and natural. You can use inner bark of most dead trees: cedar, birch, pine, spruce, juniper, etc.

STEP 4: CONSTRUCTION - Lay a foundation of fine tinder at the base of your fire pit. Above the base of fine tinder, crisscross a few larger dry twigs about the size of a pencil. Have increasingly larger pieces of wood at hand. Note that if the ground is exceedingly wet, lay a base of large logs and sticks and start your fire on top of them.

STEP 5: IGNITION - Ignite the tinder base of your fire using the ignition method of your choice. Several ignition sources are available, including matches, lighters, glass lenses, or the old-fashioned Bow Drill. If your tinder is dry, you should see flames within seconds. To grow your fire, add more tinder or twigs until larger pieces start burning.

STEP 6: COMMON SENSE - Remember that campfires are fun, but treat them with respect! Do not build a fire to be larger than necessary, recognize changes in wind speed and direction, and never leave a campfire unattended.

STEP 7: EXTINGUISH YOUR FIRE - Fill a bucket with water and pour it over the campfire while stirring the ashes with wood or metal poker. Ensure that you turn the ashes and wood remains over, wetting all sides of the combustible material. After thoroughly wetting the remains of your fire, move some of the dirt excavated in preparing your fire pit into the ashes, mixing thoroughly. Prior to leaving your site, ensue that all signs of fire (and smoke) have dissipated. Check your fire at least twice by pouring water over the area and checking to ensure the absence of a "hissing" sound as the water douses the area.