The campfire: it is the center of the outdoorswoman's universe; people have stared into flames under a starry sky for a millennia. The campfire represents all that is good and awesome about camping — not to mention the best food is cooked over the flames fueled by logs and twigs collected from the woods. But these days it's a bit of a lost art. So here's your ultimate guide on creating the spiritual center to your camping experience.
Create your own firestarters
Although purists would demand that you start your campfire with nothing but two sticks and some kindling, we at the OBC are a little more practical. Here are some of my favorites (gleaned from Pinterest):
Burn, baby, burn
Now that you've got your firestarters, it's time for the good stuff. First, you need head out and gather as much firewood as you can. Got it.
Great. Now go out and gather three times more. Seriously. Unless you've been building fires for awhile, you will never have enough wood. The info graphic to the right helps you figure how much of what kind of wood you need. Basically, you need three types - all of which should be dry. (Hint: Sometimes finding dead branches attached to a tree, rather than looking on the ground, are your best bet):
Second, decide how you want to structure the wood for maximum air flow. I like both the teepee and the log cabin methods (sometimes a hybrid of the two works best):
The trick is to push a few sticks in the ground to act as a support for the the remaining kindling.
Log cabin campfire
Use the same kinds of fuel, except now you want to place two large sticks parallel to each other on the ground, then turn 90 degrees and lay two more on top (like a log cabin). Add another layer in each direction, but use smaller sticks, moving them closer to the middle. Add your tinder in the middle, kindling on top (you can add a large piece of bark over the top of everything to make it burn even better). Light the tinder/kindling in several different places. As it burns, make sure you don't add any large logs until there's a strong flame and a few coals.
Whatever method you choose, don't make the mistake of smothering the tinder with too much kindling, which prevents air from getting to your flabes, and usually results in too much smoke. Always leave airflow gaps in the kindling, light the fire at its lowest point, and blow gently if needed. Once it starts to take, sit back, relax and enjoy one of the oldest pastimes of human beings (I once heard a contestant on Survivor call it "Survivor TV").
And don't forget to have some way to put out the fire should it somehow get out of control - most people use a bucket of water, but heavy dirt or sand will work as well. Make sure you spread the coals around before you put the fire out for the night - a tedious job if you're tired and cold, but it's the most responsible thing to do. (And we're all about being responsible when out in the natural world.)
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Jill Hinton Wolfe