How to build a campfire

You will need four basic elements to build a good campfire, a good starter, good wood, good airflow, and patience.

To save yourself time take a fire starter with you that you prepared at home. For a biodegradable campfire starter take some toilet paper rolls stuffed with lint from your dryer. This source will burn for a little while longer than dried leaves or paper plates and give you a chance to get your kindling wood going. Of course, you will need some matches or even better a lighter. Place your starter in the center of the fire and build up a small tee pee of dry twigs around the starter. You will need to build your campfire gradually, that's where the patience comes in. So get the twigs burning first then begin adding slightly larger sticks.

The best approach is to sort your wood in various sizes to gradually build the fire. Always add the wood in a tee pee shape to allow for good airflow. Fire needs oxygen to grow. The type of wood you use is important. Evergreen woods like pine, spruce and cedar should be your last choice for fuel. These trees have a lot of sap and crackle and smoke more than hardwoods like oak. So go for the hardwoods when planning your campfire. Naturally, you need dry wood. You will not be able to build a fire that can dry logs well enough to burn. Hopefully you will have a source of dry wood. Some campgrounds provide it or sell it. If never hurts to bring a few logs with you from home if you are car camping. If you are backpacking some wood will be dryer than others. Always use fallen logs if you are gathering your wood, green wood has more moisture.

If your campfire goes out start over with the same process and remember to practice patience. Throwing loads of newspaper and paper plates in a campfire that was not planned well from the start will do little for your efforts. Also remember to not throw plastics in your campfire. This material is not biodegradable, it is toxic and it leaves a horrible mess for the next family to use the fire pit.

Remember your goal is to build up a good bed of coals so start early and plan well. Also, remember to place your tent up wind from the campfire so it's not full of smoke when you go to bed. And please be careful not to hurt yourself or let the fire get away from you. There is nothing like a good campfire for memories and staying warm.

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