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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Four Ways to Start a Campfire

Photo by Peter Silverman Photo via Shutterstock

Camping is a fun time, no doubt. The fresh air, beautiful scenery, and escape from daily life is a great way to recharge your batteries. But a successful trip often hinges on one crucial skill: the ability to start a campfire.

A campfire is a must in my book…It provides warmth, a way to cook meals, and is a gathering spot for sharing stories and making memories with friends and family. And, fortunately, there are innumerable ways to start a campfire.

So, this article explores four tried-and-true methods to start a campfire, each with its own set of advantages and challenges. Whether you’re a novice camper or someone that’s spent their lives in the woods like I have, mastering these techniques will make your wilderness experience all the better.

Let’s get to it!

Table of Contents

The Traditional Way to Start a Campfire

the traditional way to start a campfire

Photo by Vibe Images via Shutterstock

What I’m calling the “traditional method” to start a campfire is what I grew up with – fire-making with kindling, larger logs, and a lighter.

Though this isn’t traditional in the context of the history of fire-making, it’s likely what you grew up doing, too. It’s about as straightforward and reliable as you can get, so it’s perfect if you want to minimize your effort while maximizing your ability to get a big fire going.

Materials Needed:

  • Matches or a lighter
  • Flammable fluid (lighter fluid works great)
  • Kindling (small twigs, dry leaves, pine needles)
  • Firewood (small to large logs)

Check out the video above by Outdoor Boys to get some insights into different types of firewood, fire safety, and how to get a fire going in the rain.

Steps:

  1. Gather Your Materials: Ensure you have all the necessary materials and clear the area of any flammable debris.
  2. Create a Teepee Structure: Arrange kindling in a small teepee shape in the center of your fire pit.
  3. Light the Kindling: Dowse the kindling with fluid and use matches or a lighter to ignite it.
  4. Add Larger Wood Pieces: Gradually add larger pieces of wood as the fire grows.
  5. Maintain the Fire: Keep the fire going by adding more wood as needed.

traditional campfire

Photo by Serhii Bobyk via Shutterstock

Pros:

  • Simple and effective.
  • Easily accessible materials.
  • Can result in a very large fire relatively quickly.

Cons:

  • Matches and lighters can become unusable if wet.
  • Flammable fluid can spill, causing a mess in your vehicle or at your campsite.

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The New Way to Start a Campfire

spark infinite firestarter 3

If efficiency is the name of your game, you might consider a new way to start a campfire over traditional methods…

Rather than bothering with gathering tinder and kindling, why not skip that step and use an infinite fire-making device to get your fire going? Devices like the Spark Infinite Firestarter fit the bill perfectly. What is this device, you ask?

spark infinite firestarter 4

Well, it’s simple, really…

The Spark Firestarter is a three-pronged fire-making base made of 304 stainless steel. Simply add your favorite flammable fluid, light it, and you’ll get six-inch-tall flames for well over 10 minutes. That’s plenty long to add wood to the fire to ignite a great campfire!

Materials Needed:

  • Spark Infinite Firestarter
  • Flammable liquid
  • Kindling
  • Firewood

Steps:

  1. Ready the fire pit: Place the Spark Infinite Firestarter in your fire pit and level it.
  2. Add fluid: Put flammable fluid in the Spark Infinite Firestarter and light it using a lighter or match.
  3. Build the fire: Add kindling and wood to the flames to build a long-lasting fire.

See the Spark Infinite Firestarter in action in the video above to see how quick and effective this method is for starting a campfire.

Pros:

  • Extremely easy method to start a fire.
  • Requires minimal tools and supplies.
  • Quickly builds a fire (with minimal smoke!).
  • Completely reusable method – simply retrieve the Spark from the fire pit the next morning, dust it off, and it’s ready to go again.

Cons:

  • Requires flammable fluid, which smells and can spill.
  • The base unit is larger than other fire-making tools (though it is very lightweight)

If you ask me, this new method of starting a campfire is the best of both worlds. On the one hand, you get the simplicity of a traditional fire. On the other hand, you get long-term usage like you do with other methods like flint and steel (but without all the work!). What’s not to like?

If you want to level up your fire-making game, check out the Spark Infinite Firestarter now!

The Flint and Steel Method: An Old Reliable Method

flint and steel

Photo by Chris Comber via Shutterstock

The flint and steel method is a classic fire-starting technique that requires a good amount of skill. However, building a campfire with flint and steel offers a great sense of accomplishment when you master it. Plus, this method allows you to start a fire anywhere and anytime, without the bulk of carrying a lot of items or potentially hazardous flammable fluids.

Materials Needed:

  • Flint and steel
  • Char cloth or tinder (dry grass, cotton balls with petroleum jelly)
  • Kindling
  • Firewood

The video above by Coalcracker Bushcraft is a great lesson in starting a campfire with flint and steel. Get some essential tips from this experienced outdoorsman to get a solid spark every single time!

Steps:

  1. Hold the Flint and Steel: Grip the flint in one hand and the steel in the other.
  2. Create Sparks: Strike the steel against the flint to generate sparks.
  3. Catch a Spark on Tinder: Direct the sparks onto the char cloth or tinder.
  4. Blow Gently: Once the tinder catches a spark, blow gently to create a flame.
  5. Build Your Fire: Transfer the burning tinder to your kindling setup and build your fire as usual.

flint and steel to start a campfire

Photo by Dmytro Sheremeta via Shutterstock

Pros:

  • Effective in various weather conditions.
  • Durable and reusable tools.
  • No need to carry bulky items like flammable fluid

Cons:

  • Requires practice and skill to use effectively.
  • Can take a good deal of time to master this technique.
  • The effectiveness of this method varies depending on the conditions.

Going Old School: Start a Campfire With the Bow Drill Method

bow and drill to start a campfire

YouTube Screenshot – Rated Red

If you’re truly adventurous, the bow drill method offers a primitive and challenging way to start a campfire. This method – while very effective if you can master it – requires a lot of work. But, despite the sweat equity you have to put in, this is still one of the most effective ways to start a campfire.

Materials Needed:

  • Bow drill kit (bow, spindle, hearth board, handhold)
  • Tinder bundle
  • Kindling
  • Firewood

Whether you’ve tried the bow drill method or not, the video above by Rated Red is a great watch. Learn the steps to starting a fire with a bow drill, or relearn them if it’s been a while!

Steps:

  1. Assemble Your Bow Drill Kit: Ensure all components are ready.
  2. Position the Hearth Board and Spindle: Place the hearth board on the ground and position the spindle in the notch.
  3. Use the Bow: Rapidly spin the spindle with the bow to create friction.
  4. Form an Ember: As an ember forms in the notch, transfer it to the tinder bundle.
  5. Ignite the Tinder: Blow gently on the ember in the tinder bundle to ignite it.
  6. Build Your Fire: Place the burning tinder into your kindling setup and build your fire.

nice campfire on a rocky beach

Photo by N.A.P Creative via Shutterstock

Pros:

  • Rewarding method of starting a fire.
  • No need for modern tools or materials.
  • Cheap – you can gather materials in the area around you.

Cons:

  • Physically demanding and requires practice.
  • Takes longer to achieve a fire.

Safety is Paramount When Starting a Campfire

fire safety

Photo by Soloviova Liudmyla via Shutterstock

Knowing how to start a campfire is a critical skill for anyone, whether you’re a casual camper or a die-hard outdoor enthusiast. And no matter which of these methods you use to get your fire going, it’s paramount to start a campfire with safety in mind. Use the following tips to ensure your safety and the safety of others:

  • Choose a Safe Location and Use a Fire Ring: Select a spot away from tents and flammable materials, and use established fire rings or pits if available.
  • Keep Water and Extinguishing Tools Nearby: Always have a bucket of water, a shovel, or a fire extinguisher on hand to quickly put out the fire if needed.
  • Build and Maintain Small Fires: Keep fires small and manageable, and never leave the fire unattended.
  • Extinguish Properly: Completely extinguish the fire by dousing it with water, stirring the ashes, and ensuring it’s cold to the touch before leaving.
  • Follow Local Regulations and Supervise: Adhere to local fire regulations and always supervise children and pets around the fire.

Using these common-sense fire safety tips, along with one of the campfire-building methods discussed above, allows you to enjoy the benefits of a fantastic fire while maintaining everyone’s safety. It’s the best of both worlds!

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