how to build a campfire

Ultimate Guide to How To Build A CampFire

Ultimate Guide to How To Build A CampFire

If you have ever been camping anywhere at all, and that could include your very own backyard, there is one thing about camping that everyone loves and can agree on.  Knowing how to build a campfire is vital to a successful and enjoyable camping experience.

Building a campfire is an important skill to know for many reasons. Campfires can be used for cooking, keeping warm, safety, and providing light at night. They can also be used as a signal fire in an emergency situation.

For more often than not though, a campfire is a common denominator for a memorable, relaxing, and enjoyable camping trip.  

Everyone remembers and talks about sitting around the warm, cozy glow of the campfire at night while reminiscing on the day’s events, plans for the next exciting day, or delving into a deep philosophical or interesting conversation about aliens, Bigfoot, or ghost stories.  

Yes, probably the most important aspect of any camping experience is having a good, reliable, and consistent campfire in the evening and in the mornings.

Campfire Safety

Building a campfire is an enjoyable experience that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers associated with campfires and take the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety.

Knowing how to build a campfire is just the first part. Safety should always be the top priority. We all know that campfires can be very dangerous if not managed properly, so it is important to take precautions and follow some simple safety guidelines.

Here are some tips to help you enjoy your campfire safely:

  1. Build your campfire in a designated fire pit or burn area. If there is no designated fire pit, make sure to clear away any flammable materials such as dry leaves, twigs, or any flammable material from the area where you will build your fire.
  1. Only build a campfire in designated areas. Check with your local authorities to find out where these areas are.  Verify there are “no fire or burn” notices or warnings in your area by the Fire Marshall or Forest Ranger.
  1. Be sure to also keep an adequate supply of water,  shovel, or rake handy in case you need to extinguish the fire quickly.
  1. Never leave your campfire unattended. If you need to leave for any reason, make sure to fully extinguish the fire before you go.
  1.  Be cautious of windy conditions. Wind can cause sparks and embers to spread, which can lead to wildfires. If it’s windy, consider not building a campfire at all.
  1. Another key element of campfire safety is choosing the right fuel for your fire. Avoid using accelerants like gasoline or kerosene, as these can cause an uncontrolled blaze.  

It may be tempting to use accelerants to get a fire going quickly, especially in wet conditions, but do not let the easy temptation rule over common sense and safety.

  1. Make sure your campfire is completely out before you leave. 

To do this, douse the fire with water and stir the ashes until they are cool to the touch.  

By following these simple safety tips, you can enjoy your campfire while preventing any dangerous accidents.

Campfire Materials

Knowing how to build a campfire involves what materials to use to successfully build your campfire from scratch in the wilderness. We’ve broken it down for you here:


This is material that catches fire easily and burns quickly. Good examples of tinder include dead leaves, dried or brown pine needles, bark, paper, cotton, steel wool, and cattails.

The tinder becomes the base or starting point of your fire as it is the most easily ignitable material in your fire pyramid.  Having the right type of tinder is the key to how to build a campfire.


You’ll need both logs and kindling. The logs will provide the bulk of the fire.  Choose logs that are at least the girth of your forearm or calf. (5-6 inches) 

The kindling will help get the fire started and ignite the larger logs.  Kindling should be no bigger than the girth of your fingers.

 Look for dry wood that’s not too green. Knowing how to build a campfire is not simply lighting a match to wood, it is using the right materials for the right occasion.

Avoid cutting down live trees for your firewood if at all possible.  Never sacrifice the life of a tree for a casual or recreational campfire.  Besides, live trees or “green wood” is the worst kind of wood for a campfire. They do not burn well and create lots of smoke.

Ignition Source

You’ll need something to light the fire with. Make sure your matches are dry and stored in a waterproof container. If you’re using a lighter, be sure to have extra fuel on hand. A Ferro-rod is also a great ignition source.  

A Fire Pit

This is where you’ll build your campfire. It can be anything from a hole in the ground to a metal ring. Just make sure it’s big enough to contain your fire.

With these materials, you’ll learn how to build a campfire efficiently and easily.


Preparing Your Campfire Area

Knowing how to build a campfire and maintain that fire is an important part of the camping experience. A campfire can provide warmth, light, and a place to cook food. It can also be a gathering place for friends and family.

Before you collect your first twig or branch to start building your campfire, you first will need to prepare the fire ring and area of your campfire location.

There are a few steps you need to take to prepare your campfire ring before you build your campfire:

1. Choose a location for your campfire. Make sure it is at least 10 feet away from any trees, bushes, or other flammable materials.

2. Clear the area around your campfire ring. Remove any dead leaves, grass, or debris.  If you do not have a rake or broom, you can “sweep” the area with your boots.

3. Place or build your campfire ring in the center of the cleared area.

4. Add some wood to the campfire ring. Choose logs that are less than 5 inches in diameter. Avoid using green wood, as it will produce a lot of smoke.

5. Add some tinder to the campfire ring. Tinder is material that catches fire easily, such as dry leaves or twigs.

6. Add some kindling to the campfire ring. Kindling is small pieces of wood that catch fire easily. It helps to get the larger logs burning.

7. Once you have all of your materials in the campfire ring, it’s time to light the fire! Be sure to follow all campfire safety rules. Never leave your campfire unattended.

By following these steps, you can be sure that your campfire ring is prepared properly and safely. Enjoy your campfire!

Why Is My Campfire So Smokey?

If you have ever sat around a campfire, you have either experienced this firsthand or witnessed it.  

how to build a campfire

The campfire begins to smoke and no matter where you move your camping chair, the smoke follows you.

It’s as if the campfire has a vendetta against you personally.

One of the most common complaints about campfires is that they produce a lot of smoke. While it’s true that campfires can generate a fair amount of smoke, there are a few things you can do to minimize the smoke and make your campfire more enjoyable.

Keep reading to learn how to build a campfire that won’t smoke you out.

Make sure you have a good supply of dry wood. 

There are a variety of woods that can be used for campfires, but some are better than others. In general, harder woods will burn hotter, cleaner, and longer than softer woods. That’s why oak, hickory, and maple are often considered the best woods for campfires. 

Wet or green wood will produce more smoke than dry wood. 

Sometimes, depending on your location or the conditions you are in, wet wood is all you have available.  If this is the case, simply stack the wet wood around the campfire so you will gradually dry it out from the heat of your campfire.  

You may have to deal with some smoke until the wood gets dried out, but once it is, you should be able to burn a clean smokeless fire.

Build your fire in a way that allows good airflow. 

Learning how to build a campfire requires three elements.

Ignition Source

A good campfire should have plenty of oxygen so that it burns hot and clean. Allowing an easy and unobstructed airflow from the bottom of your fire, across the coals, and up through the center of your firewood will allow for the cleanest and smokeless campfire.

One of the big mistakes campers make is “smothering” the fire with too much debris and wood, or just improperly stacking the wood that obstructs a natural airflow.

Watch your fire and pay attention to the airflow and how the flames are reacting.  Build your fire around the dance of your flames, and your campfire will continue to burn cleanly.

Avoid using too much kindling.

Using too much kindling will cause your fire to smolder and produce more smoke.  This is a common mistake many people make.  They continue to place small twigs and branches on a mature fire when really, they should be stacking larger and thicker logs onto the coals.

By following these simple tips, you will learn how to build a campfire that you can enjoy with minimal smoke.  That is the key to an enjoyable and relaxing campfire.

How To Build A Campfire

We are going to briefly look at three types of campfires and teach you how to build a campfire on your own.  These methods are good in most environments.

  1. Dakota Fire Hole

The Dakota Fire Hole is an advanced campfire technique, but still simple to create and execute.  A Dakota Fire Hole is built by digging two holes in the ground right next to one another.

The larger hole is for your firewood and stones and the other hole is for airflow.

This type of campfire is very efficient, as it allows for better airflow and therefore more heat. 

Start by digging a hole approximately 18 inches deep by two feet wide.  Line the hole with flat stones all the way to the top.

Dig a second hole at a 30-degree angle approximately 6 inches in diameter connecting the two holes at the bottom of the original larger hole.  

Be sure the smaller angled hole is clear of any obstructions.

Once the two holes are complete, then build out your fire in the larger stone-lined hole with tinder and logs.

Once your fire has started, you should be burning a clean, almost smoke-free fire.  

Additionally, it is easy to control the size of a Dakota Fire Hole, making it perfect for cooking or simply keeping warm.

The downside of a Dakota Fire Hole is that it can be difficult to build, particularly if you don’t have the right tools. It also takes longer to build than other types of campfires. 

However, once you’ve built one, it’s definitely worth the effort!

  1. Fire Ring

Follow the instructions previously discussed on clearing your campfire site.

Line the diameter of your fire ring with medium-sized stones two stones deep and stacked on top of one another. 

The stacked stones should be a minimum of 12 inches in height.  

Be sure to clear any twigs, brush, or debris away from the outside perimeter of the stone wall to allow an adequate flow of air to reach your fire between the stones. 

  1. Portable Fire Pit (raised)

A portable Fire Pit is the easiest and safest of all campfires.  You are limited to the amount of wood you can stack by the size of the portable firepit itself.

It is good for airflow and it is easily extinguished. 

You do not have to bother with collecting stones and for the most part, clearing your firepit area is more simple as well.  

5 Different Ways To Stack Your Campfire

There are many ways how to build a campfire. Stacking and building your fire is the key to a successful and enjoyable campfire.  There are more than the 5 ways we are mentioning here, but these 5 methods are the most popular and tried and true ways of building a safe, reliable, and steady campfire.

1.  How To Build A Campfire – TeePee or Witches Fire

The teepee or witches fire allows for even airflow to run from the bottom and up through the middle of your fire.  Understanding how to build a campfire of this type allows for a clean, smokeless, and hot fire.  

how to build a campfire

Start by placing your fire-starting material or tinder in the center of your firepit.  

Next, loosely stack your kindling upright around the tinder in a pyramid or teepee fashion.

Continue to stack your kindling gradually using larger and larger pieces until the wood is around 1 inch thick in diameter.

Start your fire and then immediately begin to add your longer burning logs in the same repeating teepee fashion.

The fire will burn in a vertical direction pulling air into the center of the teepee from the bottom up.

2. How To Build A CampfireLog Cabin fire

So, how do you build a log cabin campfire? First, gather your materials. You’ll need some tinder (paper or leaves work well), kindling (small twigs), and logs (larger pieces of wood). Once you have your materials gathered, it’s time to start building.

Start by placing your tinder in the center of your campfire area. Then, begin stacking your kindling around the tinder, creating a small pyramid or teepee shape. Once your kindling is in place, it’s time to start adding logs.

Start with two logs placed parallel to each other on opposite sides of the teepee. Then, place another log across the top of the first two, perpendicular to them. Continue this pattern until you’ve built up a sizable log cabin campfire.

Once your campfire is built, light the tinder and watch as your flames begin to lick at the logs. Enjoy the warmth and light of your campfire as it blazes away.

3. How To Build A Campfire – The Texas Star

One of the best ways to learn how to build a campfire is to create what is known as a star campfire. This type of campfire is easy to build and is very effective at providing heat and light. To build a star campfire, you will need:

– 4 pieces of wood, each about 2 feet long

– 1 piece of wood, about 3 feet long

To build the campfire:

1. Start by placing the 4 pieces of wood in a star shape, with the point of each piece of wood touching the center.

2. Place the 3-foot-long piece of wood in the center of the star, so that it is perpendicular to the other pieces of wood.

3. Place the tinder in the center of the campfire, on top of the 3-foot-long piece of wood.

4. Light the tinder using matches or a lighter.

5. Once the tinder is lit, carefully add additional pieces of wood to the campfire, making sure that the flames are not extinguished.

4.  How To Build A CampfireLean-to

If you’re looking for a campfire that’s easy to build and maintain, a lean-to campfire is a great option. Here’s how to build one:

1. Choose a spot for your campfire. Make sure it’s at least 10 feet away from any flammable objects like trees or bushes.

2. Clear away any debris from the area where you’ll be building the fire. This includes leaves, sticks, and rocks.

3. Build a small teepee out of twigs and kindling. This will be the foundation of your campfire.

4. Place your teepee over the center of the fire pit.

5. Light the teepee using a match or lighter. Once the teepee is lit, add larger pieces of wood to the fire.

6. Enjoy your campfire!

5. How To Build A CampfirePlatform

Learning how to build a campfire on a platform is slightly different than building one on the ground. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Choose a level spot for your platform campfire. Avoid any areas that are sloped or uneven.

Clear away any debris from the area where you’ll be building your fire. This includes sticks, leaves, and rocks.

Build your campfire on top of a layer of crumpled up newspaper. This will help to catch any sparks that may fly up from the fire.

Use larger pieces of wood for the base of your campfire. This will help to keep the fire burning longer and more evenly.

Add smaller pieces of wood to the campfire as it burns down. This will help to keep the fire going for a longer period of time.

How Can I Make My Campfire Better

If you have followed the advice we have offered above, it will be pretty difficult to improve on making your campfire better.  There are some enhancements we know of to make the Best campfire into the Ultimate Campfire!

Marshmallows or Smores

One of the best things about campfires is roasting marshmallows. There’s something about that gooey, melted marshmallow that just makes campfires even more special. If you’re new to campfire cooking or just want some tips on how to roast marshmallows perfectly, read on for our guide.

The first thing you’ll need is a campfire, of course! Make sure the fire is nice and hot before you start roasting your marshmallows. You can test the heat of the fire by holding your hand above it – if it’s too hot, you won’t be able to keep your hand there for more than a few seconds.

Next, you’ll need some skewers – long, thin sticks that you can use to roast your marshmallows. If you don’t have skewers, you can also use long twigs or even chopsticks. Just make sure they’re clean and not too thick.

To roast your marshmallow, hold it above the fire and rotate it slowly. You’ll want to keep it far enough away from the flames so that it doesn’t catch fire, but close enough so that it gets nice and melted.

Once the marshmallow is melted and gooey, carefully slide it off the skewer and onto a graham cracker. Add a piece of chocolate, then top with another graham cracker. Squeeze gently to sandwich everything together, and enjoy!

Weenie Roast

There’s nothing quite like a weenie roast over a campfire. But how do you make sure your hotdogs come out perfectly cooked?

Here are a few tips:

– Start with good quality hotdogs. Look for ones that are plump and juicy.

– If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This will help prevent them from burning.

– Build your fire so that it’s not too hot. You want the flames to die down a bit before you start cooking.

– Cook the hotdogs slowly, rotating them often. This will help them cook evenly on all sides.

– Avoid using lighter fluid or other chemicals to start your fire. These can give your hotdogs an unpleasant flavor.

The most important step is to have fun! 

Roasting hotdogs over a campfire is a great way to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Colorful Sparkly Campfires

If you want to add a little extra pizzazz to your campfire, try using natural powders to create a colorful sparkly effect. All you need is a good bed of red hot, glowing coals, and any of the following powders: 

White – Epsom Salts

Orange – Flour.  Powdered Sugar will also sparkle and twinkle orange.

Silver – Powdered Aluminum

Blue – Coffee Grounds, rubbing alcohol 

Green – Borax, Coffee Grounds

Yellow – Table Salt

Purple – Potassium Chloride (salt substitute)

Simply sprinkle the powder onto the coals or into your campfire and watch as your campfire transforms into a magical light show of beauty!

You can also purchase dyed or colored powders online or at most hobby and craft stores for this purpose.  

You can experiment with different amounts and combinations of powders to create different effects. 

Have fun and be safe!

Important Additional Information:

  1. Make sure the campfire is completely out before you leave. To do this, drown the fire with water and stir it until the ashes are cool to the touch.
  1. Never leave a campfire unattended. Make sure someone is always watching it so it doesn’t get out of control.
  1. If you’re not sure how to build a campfire, ask a ranger or another experienced camper for help.

How To Build A Campfire In The Rain

There may come a time when you are out in the wilderness and need to build a campfire for warmth or hot water.  What if it is raining though?  Perhaps it has been raining for a couple of days straight and everything around you is soaked?

How to build a campfire in the rain or if all of the campfire materials are wet?

Knowing how to build a campfire in the rain can be challenging, but it is possible with the right preparation. 

Here are some tips on how to build a campfire in the rain:

  1. Choose a spot for your campfire that is sheltered from the rain.  This could be beneath a tree or under an overhang. If there is no natural shelter, you can create your own by using a tarp or other waterproof material.

Be careful not to allow the tarp or overhanging branches to catch fire from your campfire once you get it started.

  1. Gather some larger pieces of wood and build your campfire up against them like a wall. This will help shield the fire from the rain.
  1. Gather dry wood before it starts raining. If you wait until the rain starts, it will be much more difficult to find dry wood. Try to find wood that is well seasoned – meaning it has been dead for at least six months.
  1. If you can locate dry tinder, this is the best way to get a fire started in light rain or if your campfire wood is already wet from the rain. 
  2. If you’re looking for dry tinder to start a campfire in the rain, there are a few things you can do.

    One option is to look for dead, dry branches that are still attached to trees. Brown or dead pine or evergreen needles that have been protected from the rain is an excellent tinder.

    Another option is to collect leaves and other plant materials from under trees and bushes.

    You can also try using a dry brillo pad or steel wool, cotton balls, linen or cotton shirt or towel, cardboard, or newspaper. Just be sure to keep your tinder sheltered from the rain as much as possible.
  1. Once you have your dry wood, build your campfire as you would normally. Start with a small pile of kindling, and add larger pieces of wood as the fire grows.
  1. If your campfire starts to smoke, that means the wood is too wet. You will need to add more dry wood to keep the fire going.
  1. As a last resort and only in a situation where the campfire is vital to your health and safety, use a chemical to start your fire such as petroleum fuel or other types of chemical that is easily lit and flammable.. 

With a little bit of effort, you can learn how to build a campfire in the rain and enjoy all of the benefits that come with it!

Final Words on Ultimate Guide To How To Build A Campfire

There are many reasons why it is important to know how to build a campfire. For one, campfires can provide warmth and light in the event of an emergency. They can also be used for cooking food or boiling water. 

Additionally, campfires can be used to signal for help if you are lost in the wilderness. They can be used as a safety to keep dangerous predators and reptiles away from your campsite.  

 Finally, campfires are simply enjoyable to sit around and relax.  The warm glow of a campfire and the crackling burning wood is the backdrop for so many interesting and engaging conversations around your campfire.

So next time you are planning a camping trip, make sure you brush up on how to build a campfire!

Leave a comment below and let us know if we have helped you with any campfire tips.  How do you build a campfire?  Maybe give us one of your tips we have not mentioned?  

We’d love to hear from you!

Ever dreamt about living and traveling full time? We can show you how we did it!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *