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A brightly burning campfire ring.

How to Build a Campfire: Easy-to-Follow Guide

If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, you’ve likely experienced most of your best nights out in the wild with a campfire. Learning how to build a campfire is like a rite of passage if you’re the type to have regular hikes and outdoor adventures.

Building a campfire is easier than it sounds. It is worth learning, especially if you usually find yourself in the outdoors.

For most people, it is a fun family tradition, which they look forward to. Campfires make great bonding activities, for sure.

If you have always wanted to learn how to build campfires, this easy to follow guide will give you a more concrete idea of how you should do it.

Though it could take a while before you master the skill, constant practice will surely make you better at it eventually.

Build a campfire step-by-step

Gather everything you need.

This sounds very kindergarten, but you wouldn’t want to learn this the hard way. Among your campfire building essentials are water, a shovel, and a bucket. Having them all by your side ensures a quicker process altogether and will save you much time.

Roasting marshmallows on stick in a campfire.

Gather wood.

Choosing the right types of wood will make or break your campfire. Contrary to popular belief, you have to be careful with the wood you choose.

You cannot just use anything you pick up. Different types of wood tend to have different combustion ability, which will determine your campfire’s success.

  • Use dry wood. Although quite obvious, this is often overlooked when doing campfires. The thing with wet wood is that it takes longer to burn and would need more work. Try to find as much dry wood as you can. Your best bet is to find dried kiln wood, which is most often used for campfires.
  • Use dry pine needles, dry leaves, and wood shavings as tinder. It is not just wood that makes a campfire. Try to be resourceful and make use of other things you can pick up from the woods. Apart from leaves and shavings, you can also use old newspapers as tinder.
  • Smaller wood pieces are best for kindling. Again, this does not mean any type of wood that comes to sight. Dried twigs and sticks are proven to be best in kindling campfires.
  • Main campfire wood should be bigger pieces. Your firewood will be the star of the show as you know it. This also explains why you need to choose your firewood meticulously. Use larger logs that are dry to make your campfire bright. These pieces of wood should be the same size as your arms for the best campfire results.

Maximize the fire pit.

Most camping sites, if not all, are equipped with fire pits to not damage the topsoil. Like other forms of fire, campfires may cause damage to the soil when not done properly.

The fire pit should be the only place you will ever build your campfires. This also adds a safety net to your campfire.

The best fire pits come with metal campfire rings. This also sustains your campfire and prevents quicker drying, which would lead to an early fire out.

In the absence of a campfire ring, most people use small stones to create a boundary for the fire. While it is also true that you can build a campfire without a metal campfire ring, having one ensures you quality campfires that will keep you warm for a longer period of time.

PetraTools’ Metal Campfire Rings are made of the finest quality steel that will last you longer than other types of rings. Corrosion-resistant and highly durable, this campfire ring can keep you company for many years of outdoor adventures and keep you warm for the days to come.

Prep a large dent on the ground.

Make sure to observe proper depth when digging for where you should build your campfire. You would want the hole to be large enough to contain the fire and the ashes afterward.

Tinder and kindle woods, then campfire wood.

Follow this to a tee when arranging your wood stock. This will ensure a smooth process and shall keep the fire going for a longer time than when you put them randomly.

Stack your pile of wood like a teepee, which is proven to be the best style to do it. Remember to leave space for airflow, which will also strengthen your fire and keep it going.

Light it up.

Now, for the fun part. Using your match or lighter, probably with a small amount of fuel, light up your campfire.

The key to making sure it wouldn’t fizzle out is to keep adding wood once you notice the first ones burning. This will also provide you with continuous warmth as you spend your camping nights.

Campfire Safety Measures

  • Check the weather. You would not want to build a campfire when the weather is extremely hot and dry. This may lead to forest fires, especially if you do not have as much experience in the matter. It is best to wait until the weather is fair and not too hot.
  • Prepare fire extinguishers. Aside from fire extinguishers, buckets of water and wet clothes should also be easily accessible in case anything happens. It pays to be prepared for these things before they happen, so you won’t have to waste time looking for them should the need arise.
  • Do not use fuel. While using fuel will definitely speed things up for you, it is more of a risk than a help when we talk about campfires. It is best to just rely on wood to keep the fire going until you achieve the campfire radiance you’re looking for. Using fuel will only increase the risk of a huge fire.
  • Keep your fire small. Movies show these large campfires and we think about how lovely they look. However, the truth is that larger ones could be dangerous and risky. They could also be harder to put out in case something comes up. To make sure you’ll be able to keep up with your campfire, keep it small.
  • Do not use toxic materials. Don’t even think about including plastic in your campfire. Plastic releases harmful chemicals when burned. The same is true with other materials that should not be included in your fire. Stick with the basics--leaves, twigs, and wood.
  • Never leave your campfire unattended. Campfires are all fun and cool until they wreak havoc on forests and properties. You should always be monitoring it to make sure it does not cause any problem where you built it. In addition, you should never leave a campsite with a fire on. Make sure to completely kill the fire using an extinguisher, and never leave until you are 100% sure that the fire is out.


Building a campfire is exciting. It can be one of the highlights of your outdoor adventures. However, apart from learning how to build a campfire, we should also learn how to do it safely.

We would not want an exciting adventure to turn into a nightmare because of miscalculations and wrong assumptions of doing campfires. Thus, taking note of the best practices, using the right tools, and having the right attitude guarantee an enjoyable and memorable adventure.

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