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How to Build a Great Campfire

Brandi M. Seals

Campfires are a great way to sit back and relax. They offer not only a way to cook food while camping, but also serve as a backdrop for casual conversations, s'mores making, and the telling of ghost stories. Kids and adults alike love them.


Campfires are surprisingly easy to construct especially if there is already a fire pit to begin with. If one is not available, try to find a flat area or rock to make the fire pit. The site should be at least eight feet from any bushes, trees, or flammable objects. Create a u-shaped perimeter using large rocks or wet green logs. When completed, place a flat rock at the rear of the pit. This will act as a chimney and help direct smoke up and away from the fire.

Next, place kindling in the established pit or newly created one. You can do it any way you prefer. I have seen some people swear by the tepee method (that is leaning twigs against one another to make a teepee shape) while others highly recommend layering. That is when a person puts down paper and kindling and alternates direction with each layer.

After the kindling is set and you have a small fire going, you will want to start adding firewood. You should look for dry hard wood that is all roughly the same thickness. Do not use wet or green wood. It will not burn well and will cause the fire to smoke. Be sure to distribute the firewood evenly throughout the fire pit.

If you plan to cook over the campfire, wait until the coals are mostly white and flames have died down before coving the pit with a grill. Push up the coals so that they are higher in the back and lower in the front. This will create a high and low just like using a stove. Alternatively, you can use the coals to cook up a good soup or chili. Just set a cast iron Dutch oven directly into the coals to create the perfect meal.

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