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This is a great time of year to start planning your outdoor adventures with friends and family (or by yourself!). Whether you are planning on taking a few weeks and hiking a great trail or just spending a night or two in a nearby campground, one thing’s for sure, you will probably need to start a campfire in order to cook some delicious camping food. Camping food is really one of the best perks of spending time outdoors and in order to get that food cooked, you’ll have to make a suitable fire. Let’s explore some ways that you can safely and quickly build an excellent cooking fire for your next adventure.
We can’t talk about building fires without first talking about fire safety. Always read up on your local rules and regulations about whether or not it is even allowed to start a fire in the place you are camping or otherwise traveling to. Make sure before you even leave home on your trip that you are familiar with all of the updated fire regulations.
Secondly, when it comes to fire safety, always start fires in a safe, sober, and responsible manner. Have plenty of water handy in case you need to put out a flare up or other uncontrolled burn. Try to use very little, if any, accellerents as they can easily lead to out of control burns. If you are vehicle camping, then it pays to have a medium sized fire extinguisher at the ready as well since they are more effective than water alone. Always make sure that every fire you start is dead out by pouring water on the fire bed and stirring the wet ashes together.
This is a quick and simple one that will help you make the most out of your available kindling and fuel logs. Start with at least six to eight fuel logs, which are about as thick as your forearm and between two and four feet long. Lay these logs out in a “star” or wagon wheel pattern. Your main fuel logs should be evenly spaced and resemble the spokes on a bike or wagon wheel. Leave a space in the center of the star to place a kindling bundle and your tinder. Light the kindling and once that is burning steadily, you can feed the spokes of the wagon wheel (fuel logs) into the center of the shape as they burn to adjust the fire strength as you cook. This method is great for when you are using a single large pot or pan as your cooking vessel.
The first thing they teach you in the Scouts is to always be prepared. The second thing they teach you is how to build a solid campfire using this method. For this fire, you will need about ten forearm sized fuel logs and about a pound of kindling scraps and a handful of dry tinder like leaves or dry moss (or firestarter sticks if you prefer). Take the kindling scraps and form a pile in the center of your campfire ring. If you haven’t built a ring of stones for your fire area yet, then now is a good time as it helps keep sparks in and helps trap heat as well. Place the dry tinder on top of the kindling scraps.
Now, take your fuel logs two at a time and balance them upright against each other. Start with two aligned north and south and then place two to either side east and west, then fill in the rest of the sides until you have a solid standing “teepee” shaped structure with your kindling and tinder pile at the center on the dirt.
Reach in with a lit match, lighter, or lit piece of bark and ignite the tinder pile in the center. You may need to blow on it a few times to get the flames going. The fire should spread straight up from the kindling in the center and catch the teepee structure in a few minutes. This is an excellent method for building a hot fire quickly. After the teepee falls down you can then spread out the coals evenly and add more fuel logs as necessary. This allows for multiple cooking vessels to be used at the same time.
We hope you have an excellent time exploring the great outdoors this year! No matter where you travel this year, we hope you have a wonderful one from Better Man Beard.