A Guide to Making a Cooking Campfire

Cooking Campfire

Camping in the great outdoors is an ideal way to spend your time. Eating is a big part of the camping experience. Like a true outdoorsy person, you want to prepare a proper campfire meal, but how do you make a cooking campfire?

Making a cooking campfire is not an easy task. It can take multiple attempts. There are many ways you can go about making your fire. Keep reading to find the best way to do so.


How to Pick the Right Spot When Preparing a Cooking Campfire

When creating a cooking campfire, make sure the chosen spot for the fire is a clear area, so that you do not risk starting a forest fire. Create your fire as far as possible from trees and dry grass. Be aware of the wind as well. Flying sparks can also create a forest fire.

Finding the right spot for your fire can be hard, but it is very important and the first thing you should think about when considering creating a fire of any sort. Be sure that when you make your fire, it is in a clear area and somewhere where the fire will light. For example, creating your fire on a rock will bear no results and require futile efforts.


Preparing the Area for a Cooking Fire

Place rocks around the fire to prevent it from spreading once you have chosen a spot for the cooking fire. Be sure that no rocks are placed under the fire and that whatever firebase is used is sitting on top of the soil.

If you are digging a fire pit, you should place the rocks around the pit to prevent fire from spreading. You don’t need to organize your rocks in a specific pattern, but for the ultimate cooking fire pit, you should set them in a square or U-shape, close together, so that the grate can sit on top of them.


How to Get Tinder for a Cooking Fire

Tinder for a cooking fire can be found anywhere in the great outdoors. Tinder can be made of anything dry and flammable, be it dry grass, twigs, or even paper.

When gathering your tinder, make sure it is not wet. Wet tinder will make it impossible to light the fire. Anything going into the creation of any fire should be as dry as possible for the best results.


How to Prepare the Kindling for a Cooking Fire

When preparing the kindling for a cooking fire, it is important to ensure it is dry. If the kindling is wet, the fire will be impossible to light and you will need to find new kindling. Kindling can be made of sticks or found in stores and is vital for creating a fire.

If you’re looking to be the ultimate forester and find your own kindling, sticks are the way to go. As long as they are not wet, they are perfect for starting fires since they are dry and easily flammable.

If you’re not the ultimate forester and are looking for something simple to help you light your fire, know that many stores sell fire kindling. Here are some good suggestions to help in your fire kindling search:

When searching for kindling, be sure that the wood is all-natural. The chemicals added to some firestarters can be harmful if consumed, so cooking with them is not wise.


The Best Fuel Wood to Use for a Cooking Fire

The best wood for a cooking fire is oak. Since it is a hardwood, it takes longer to catch fire but burns much longer than softer woods like pine. Oak also gives food a medium smokey flavor that works perfectly for those who do not care for robust smoky flavors.

Different types of wood have different effects on your food and how long your fire burns. Hardwood burns longer than softwood but takes longer to catch fire due to its density, for instance. For this reason, hardwood is considered the superior wood. Here are some hardwoods that will work perfectly for your cooking fire:

  • Oak
  • Apple
  • Blackthorn
  • Hawthorn
  • Pear

All of these hardwoods burn long, provide heat, and tend to crackle and pop a lot less than softwoods. When picking wood, remember that these woods give the best results when they are well-seasoned.


How to Tell if Wood Is Well Seasoned

Well-seasoned wood can be picked out by its color and density. The wood should be dry and have less water density than normal fresh-cut wood, resulting in a lighter weight. The color should be dark with no hints of green and the logs should have cracks.

Well-seasoned wood is not always easy to pick out but it can be found with great attention to detail. If you are unable to tell if the wood you want is well seasoned, ask your local wood provider or, if you are buying from a store such as Walmart or Home Depot, use a wood moisture meter. The best wood has, at most, 20% moisture.

Moisture meters can be found in home improvement stores, such as Lowe’s and Home Depot. If you want to purchase one from the comfort of your home, Amazon is a good place to look at. To aid you in your search, here are some moisture meters that will help you find perfectly seasoned wood:


How to Make a Cooking Fire

When launching a cooking fire, start by placing rocks in a square. Take the tinder and place it in the square, along with the kindling and fuelwood. Place the kindling above the tinder and the fuelwood above the kindling, topping it off with the grate.

There are many ways you can go about making a cooking fire. This is just a standard base on the structure of a cooking fire for the best and quickest lighting results. You could essentially make a pit and it would still work the same way. The only thing that changes is the shape you lay your rocks in.

  • Laying your rocks out – You should always start by laying your rocks in the shape you want your cooking fire to form. If you are planning to make a pit for your fire, place your rocks around the pit. Make sure that whatever shape you place your rocks in fits your grate.
  • Lay the tinder – Place a layer of tinder flat inside the square formed by the rocks.
  • Place the kindling – Place the kindling on top of the tender with enough gaps for oxygen to help keep your fire alive.
  • Lay another layer of tinder – Lay a small layer of tinder on top of your kindling.
  • Add the fuelwood – Add a layer of fuelwood with enough gaps for your fire to breathe.
  • Place the grate – Place the grate over the fire, and you are ready to light it!

If you do not have a grate and are planning to use sticks, you can build a regular campfire and create a tipi with your materials.


Once you get your fire going, it’s time to bring out your cooking utensils and start making your dinner. If you don’t have a dedicated set of cooking tools for camping yet, we reviewed a bunch and came up with a list of the best camping cookware for all budgets and sizes to help you decide which one is the best for you.


How to Build a Cooking Fire with Coal

To build a cooking fire with coal, start by placing rocks in a square shape. Take the coal and place it in the square along with the tinder, kindling, and fuelwood. Place the tinder above the coal, the kindling above the tinder, and the fuelwood above the kindling. Place your grate on the rocks.

Making a cooking fire with coal is much more time-consuming than launching a normal cooking fire with wood. Creating a cooking fire with coal is much more like having an outdoor stove. Once the coals are hot, you can pile them and spread them out evenly to emulate the different temperatures on a stove.

  • Laying your rocks out – Start by creating a cooking fire. Lay your rocks in your preferred shape. Make sure that whatever shape you choose fits your grate.
  • Place your coals – Lay your coals down inside of your rocks.
  • Lay the tinder – Place a layer over your coal.
  • Place the kindling – Place the kindling on top of the tinder with enough gaps for oxygen to help keep your fire alive.
  • Add the Fuelwood – Add a layer of fuelwood with enough gaps for your fire to breathe.
  • Add the grate – Place the grate over the fire, and you are ready to light it!
  • Spread out the coal – Once the fire has burned out, spread your coal. The side with thr most coal is going to equal the high setting on the stove. The amount of coal should decrease to medium, and even further, to low. This will provide the optimal outdoor cooking experience.

If you use hardwood for your fire, make sure not to use thick logs. To get the best results from the coal, you want the wood to burn out. And although you may have hotter coal with hardwood, it takes longer for the wood to burn out. Softwood may be the best alternative for a cooking fire with coal.

If you want to use the quickest alternative to create a cooking fire with coal, you can lay the coal inside the rocks and use a fire starter, like lighter fluid, and light the fire after placing your grate on top of it. This method, however, gives you less control over the fire temperature.


What Is the Best Type of Coal to Use for a Cooking Fire?

The best types of coal for a cooking fire are charcoal lumps and charcoal briquettes. These two show some differences in the way they burn and in their cost, but in the end, which coal you chose comes down to your preferences.

Charcoal lumps are all-natural but burn very quickly. As quickly as they may burn, they do so at high temperatures and make adjusting temperatures easy. Unfortunately, charcoal lumps can be expensive due to the fact that they are all-natural.

Charcoal briquettes, unlike charcoal lumps, contain a lot of additives and can give off a chemical odor when burned. Considering these downsides, charcoal briquettes are less expensive. They also produce a lot more ashes than charcoal lumps but burns a lot longer.



There are a lot of outdoor skills that you need to learn before you go camping. These skills will not only help you enjoy your time in the great outdoors, they are also vital for your survival. One of the skills that you will learn is making a campfire which you can use as a source of light and heat as well as to prepare your meals. 

Making a good cooking fire is not a piece of cake. It takes a lot of knowledge and effort. Knowing what will contribute to a good fire and what will prevent your fire from lighting will bring you one step closer to having a great cooking fire. With some dry tinder, good kindling, and well-seasoned wood, you’re all set to start making your fire.

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