Step-By-Step Guide on Starting a Campfire (And How to Put it Out)

Starting a Campfire

Trying and failing to build a campfire is intimidating. To have the ability to make a fire, you need to be prepared with the right supplies, and take into account where you’re going to start the fire.

Campfires are used for cooking, providing a warmer environment, and they can also protect you against predators. Plus, sitting around a campfire is one of the most magical moments; no camping experience is complete without a fire.

When building a campfire, make sure to check the weather first. The next thing you’d want to do is clear the fire pit or dig a new hollow hole, create a barricade of stones, and pile up your wood. Having the skills to initiate and control a fire is a big edge when you’re out in the wild.

To help with this, we’ll be talking about how to prepare for the fire, how to start the fire, and what the best kind of woods are to make a campfire. Also, topics to tackle down include how to keep the fire burning, how to extinguish it properly, and how to stay safe.


Depending on your desire to connect with nature, camping exists in multiple forms, namely backcountry and frontcountry camping. So what’s the difference between backcountry and frontcountry camping, and why pick one over the other? What gear should we consider for each type? Read our article to find out more.


Step-by-step guide on how to make a fire

If it’s your dream to master making a fire during your camping trips, I can tell you it’s not that exhausting to achieve, if you follow our easy and quick steps.

Making sure to prepare your fire pit location, tinder, wood, and all the materials is essential if you want to have a successful fire at your camp. By following the steps we’ve mentioned below, you can be sure that you’ll have a fire in no time.

Below are the 11 steps to start a campfire that suits your purpose.

Step 1: Check the weather

If the ground is predicted to be wet, then you must bring enough newspaper, cardboard boxes, and lint. Also, it will save you trouble knowing the weather conditions beforehand.

Step 2: Look and clear your fire pit

Fires are often started on bare dirt considering it’s the safest and most suitable ground.

If you’re camping at a campsite, then ensure to abide by the rules and use the designated areas. No matter where you’re camping, always check that your fire is away from any flammable greenwood debris.

Step 3: Dig a big hollow into the ground

Wherever you prefer to start your campfire, the core should be the deepest point to let the great fire control and eventually act as a case for the ashes.

Step 4: Gather medium-sized stones around the area

Place the rocks in a round shape, near the dents. This will serve as a barrier and will contain the fire.

Step 5: Prepare the extinguishing equipment

These can include a fire extinguisher or buckets of water, so that you’re secured before the fire starts.

Step 6: Collect your tinder and kindling wood

Check if it’s dry and dead. Dry barks, dry leaves, dry grass, and any dry pieces of wood are ideal to use as tinder. Meanwhile, kindling woods that will begin the spark must consist of tiny dry branches and twigs.

Step 7: Pile your firewood

Pile them from the part surrounding your pit. These hard pieces of wood should be closely similar to the length and width of your arms.

Step 8: Make bleeding of tinder at the inner of fire pit

Placing it towards the middle.

Step 9: Hoard the kindling wood

In the form of a tepee above the tinder, this technique has proven to be efficient. You can keep stacking the wood until it makes a solid structure. Then, put another firewood on the opposite side to support the tepee. Set a space in the wind’s control, so that air can pass.

Step 10: Kindle a match or a gas lighter

Gradually bring it closer to the tinder until the fire sparks and tinder seizes the fire. Make sure that an adult does this, or is present.

Step 11: Sustain putting new pieces of firewood

Do so as the flame burns, and the wood begins to blow up. This will continue igniting.


Starting a fire is not an easy task in the wild while camping. But having a lighter with you might save you from having to use stones. A lighter is easy to carry and can give you instant fire. Follow our guide on how to start a campfire with a lighter to make sure that you’ll be able to properly and safely build a fire.


How to keep a fire burning

Starting a fire for a camping trip can be a cozy and excellent way to naturally heat your camping site. But it’s frustrating if it always burns out easily, or promptly dies after lighting it. By preparing all your tinder and firewood beforehand, you’ll surely keep your fire burning effortlessly.

So, if you’re too wearied to keep on lighting and relighting your fire pit, stick with these tips to keep it burning all night long.

Here are four ways to keep your fire alive.

  • Gather kindling and tinder

    • Good kindling materials: Small or thin pieces of wood, dried twigs, and dried leaves.
    • Good tinder materials: cotton swabs, toilet paper, and newspaper.
    • Sustaining a fire igniting is a cycle. Begin with tinder, then put kindling and wood. To keep your flame from taking out, you should redo the same procedure.
  • Use dry firewood

    • Avoid burning recently chopped trees.
    • Seasoned or hardened firewood is the best.
    • Look for fallen logs or older trees to cut down.
    • Hardwoods burn hot, last a long time, and can keep the fire burning.
  • Begin with softwood, maintain with hardwood

    • Softwoods, such as firs and pines, are faster to light, but burn down rapidly.
    • Hardwood is tougher to light when beginning the fire, but lasts a longer time, and provides more heat.
    • To keep your fire burning, start the fire using softwood, and change to hardwood when you finally have a stable and nice flame.
  • Include oxygen to blow your fire

    • Place the new firewood with much space allying the logs to get good ventilation.
    • Regularly put on more kindling and tinder to the gap between your logs.
    • Blow on your fire, especially when you’re just lighting the flame to make it larger.


The best firewood for a campfire

Choosing the perfectly right kind of wood is essential because it provides more efficient campfires. So, to get a good fire, pick particular types of wood that swiftly burn better than others.

Hardwoods are the best choice, yet several kinds of softwoods burn easily as well. It’s also necessary to dry out the freshly cut woods. Occasionally, it requires to be hardened for up to a whole year before being used.

Yet, with plenty of varieties of woods available, it’s hard to choose the best one. Luckily, we scrutinize and found out these certain kinds of woods that can create a fire that stays for hours.

Try burning these six types of firewood for the best results.

  1. Oak
    Oak has a large amount of energy content per cord, and it can emit a ton of heat with its only sparks or smoke.
  1. Maple
    Maple is dense, yet it can ignite a strong, lasting fire. Manitoba maple, Red, Silver, and Sugar maple are some of its kinds that quickly burn.
  1. Birch
    It’s softwood, and burns more rapidly. Yet, it can provide a large amount of heat, with lively and glowing flames that ignite small sparks and little smoke.
  1. Cherry or black cherry
    Cherry or black cherry wood have a nice aroma. Even they’re not the hottest-burning, they’re simpler to handle and break than other types of wood.
  1. Beech
    Beech can make you feel warmer and last longer if it’s been seasoned for at least a whole year. It’s heavy, dense, and can release a ton of heat without so many sparks and smoke.
  1. Ash
    Ashwood tends to burn steady and slowly. It burns really hot, and thus, can keep you comfy in frosty times.

Woods that you should avoid when making a campfire include:

  • Spruce
  • Willow
  • Poplar
  • Alder


How to put out a campfire properly

It’s necessary to know how to fully extinguish the fire the right way. You can put out your campfire with water, sand, or dirt.

Never leave your campfire burning because it can cause wildfires. It’s dangerous to our forests, since it can get out of control quickly.

Here are the six steps to follow to extinguish your campfire properly.

Step 1

Wait for the flame to flare out until the wood has turned into ashes.

Step 2

Scatter the remaining coals or wood fairly, using a long stick or shovel. The fire will die faster if they’re not stuck to each other.

Step 3

Sprinkle the fire with water. Make sure to carry the water various feet over the fire, to stay away from hot steam.

Step 4

Use a long stick or shovel to blend the water with the ashes and residues of the fire. Assure that all embers are surrounded by water. Further, check the nearby rocks for embers. If needed, add more water.

Step 5

Feel the area where the fire was created, and confirm that it has already cooled down. If the area is still hot to touch, redo Steps 3 and 4.

Step 6

Before you leave, make sure that the entire campsite is free from heat and sparks.


Campfires do’s and don’ts

Campfires can threaten lives if they’re not handled with safety precautions. Campfire disasters send thousands of kids and adults to the emergency room with burn injuries every year.

Therefore, it’s really important to be educated about campfire safety. Here are a set of rules we suggest you to follow to ensure that your camping trip is both fun and safe.

  • Campfire safety do’s:

    • Only build a campfire when the weather is good.
    • Quickly burn your fuel like wood in a small amount to lessen the volume of smoke.
    • Listen to any bonfire bans, rules, or precautions in the area.
    • Check and remove any excess dry grass, wood, or anything that may add fuel to the flame and extend it beyond your control.
  • Campfire safety don’ts:

    • Don’t leave your fire unattended.
    • Avoid burning toxic materials like plastic, as it can emit poisonous fumes and smoke.
    • Avoid lighting a fire in sturdy winds, like near hanging branches.
    • Never spill accelerants to speed up your fire, like gasoline.
    • Don’t leave igniting embers or partially extinguished fires before getting out of the area, as these flicks could relight.



A wonderful campfire brings a big responsibility. Although it gives a memorable experience to every camper, you should also adhere to the precautions to prevent wildfires. Not only for your safety, but for that of other campers and families to experience the beautiful forests later on.

Also, keep in mind that not all camping sites allow visitors to start campfires. You can check the fire restrictions with the local area. Always do your part in keeping everyone and everything around you safe from fire.

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