Looking for the best campfire tricks, tips & hacks for your next camping adventure? You’ve come to the right place!
In this article we’ll go over:
- Helpful campfire equipment
- Important things to consider before starting a fire
- What you will need to build a successful fire
- How to start a campfire (and keep it going!)
- How to add a little color (and fun!) to your campfire
- Campfire safety tips
Ready to learn how to become a master campfire builder? Let’s get started!
Everyone enjoys an open fire when they’re camping, but how many people really know the best and easiest way to get one going?
When people go camping in the great outdoors, the one thing that everyone seems to love is an open fire to toast their marshmallows on or tell ghost stories around.
I can’t lie; I love campfires! Sitting around a campfire is a fun way to relax, unwind, and enjoy time with friends or even just sit quietly by yourself for a few minutes.
Think about it- how many times have you watched a film or TV show where they go camping and don’t have a warming fire to enjoy on a cooling summer’s evening?
Never! Because a good campfire is an important part of camping.
But, building the perfect campfire is not always easy and there are certain things you need to keep in mind before starting.
Helpful Campfire Equipment
Let’s start off with equipment you may need or want for starting a fire.
- Safety first! Don’t forget to have some heat-resistant gloves like these that will keep your hands safe from nasty burns.
- Just in case you happen to get burned (or have any other first-aid need) be sure to have a first aid kit with you and in an easy to get to spot!
- A fire extinguisher is a must-have! But this shouldn’t be with you only for a campfire, this should be in your RV all the time anyway.
- And don’t forget a fire pit poker and log grabber. These are great for helping to keep your hands away from the fire!
- Finally, you’ll need matches or a lighter to start your fire. (I know that seems obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many times we’ve had to go looking for matches or a lighter!)
5 Things To Consider BEFORE Starting A Campfire
- Make sure your fire is a safe distance away from not only your tent or RV, but also any other vehicles, brush, or anything that could catch fire. (The last thing you want is to be responsible for the whole campsite going up in flames. YIKES!)
- The idea when camping is to leave the environment the exact same way as when you arrived. So, you don’t want to scorch the grass around you. Instead, either raise your fire above ground or create a fire pit in the ground if permitted. Some campgrounds will already have these installed around the site to avoid further damage to the surroundings.
- Never light a campfire in strong winds as fire can spread quickly if you are not careful.
- Make sure you have a way to douse the fire quickly if needed. Have a shovel for dirt or a bucket of water near just in case.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
What You Need To Build A Successful Fire
Once you have chosen your perfect spot for a campfire, (which should be dry and away from low hanging branches) and have, if needed, created a fire pit by digging a hole in the ground about a foot deep, collect some large rocks to act as a firewall and then you are ready to start building a fire to be proud of.
(If you’re staying in a campground, chances are they will have a fire pit or fire ring already so there will be no need to make your own).
You then need to think about the materials you are using.
Fire needs three things to survive – heat, oxygen and fuel.
As you are outside, the oxygen part should not be an issue but you will need to consider the other two elements carefully.
Heat can come in many forms: a lighter, matches- or if you are looking to embrace your inner Bear Grylls, you could always attempt to create your own fire using natural tools and good old-fashioned friction.
Perhaps the most important element for a successful fire however, is the fuel you use.
People assume that building a fire is easy, but get the wrong fuel and you will spend hours attempting to light something that is never going to catch.
In fact, it is quite a skill to create a fire and it is important to remember that you will need different types of fuel to keep your fire burning strong.
3 Types Of Fuel You Need For A Fire
This is the part that you need to light first in order to get your fire started so it needs to be something that catches fire easily and burns quickly.
It could be anything from dry leaves, grass, moss, bark, or small twigs.
If you are not the foraging kind but are known for planning ahead remember to pack some old newspapers, cardboard, or wood shavings.
Alternatively, many supermarkets and outdoor stores will stock firelighters which are small solid fuel tablets, just make sure that they are non-toxic.
Whether you collect these while wandering in the woods, or opt for the convenience of shop-bought bags, kindling is small sticks that you will need to use in order to start building your fire.
Kindling needs to catch quickly and then burn for a time if not you will find your fire will go out before it has really caught.
You can often buy pre-cut wood from campgrounds. In fact, many campgrounds require that you buy wood from them and do not bring in wood from outside sources.
If you’re not staying in a campground, or there are no rules against bringing your own, you can often find stores selling wood or possibly find your own in the woods. Just be sure to get wood that is nice and dry!
It is these logs that will keep your fire burning strong for quite a long time.
Be careful though, the best firewood is always seasoned as it has been dried out for optimum burning potential. Unseasoned wood is more difficult to light and is likely to burn inefficiently.
If you do get these logs to light chances are you will spend your evening dodging smoke clouds as well as they create more creosote as they burn.
How To Start A Campfire (And Keep It Going!)
Once you have collected all the materials you need, it’s now time to think about how to build your fire so that it keeps going all evening.
Building your fire
Regardless of whether you are starting a fire in a prepared pit or on something you have just created, you will need to begin in the same way with your tinder bundle.
Clump a couple of handfuls of tinder together and mold it loosely into a bundle, placing it into the bottom of your fire pit. However, don’t pack it too tightly or you will constrict the air from flowing and it won’t burn as well.
Get this first element wrong and your fire is likely to go out before it has even truly started.
Once you have sorted your tinder, you then need to move on to the kindling.
A basic but perhaps the most effective way to do this is to form a teepee tent-type shape with the smaller pieces of wood.
Simply lean the kindling pieces against one another, leaving gaps so that you are still able to reach the tinder for lighting.
Again, packing the kindling too tightly and the lack of oxygen will cause the fire to be a non-starter.
Once you have created your teepee, building it up gradually so that larger pieces are on the outside, it is now time to start the fire.
Once lit, you may need to blow gently onto the flame in order to help it on its way.
Only after you have been successful at this stage should you start to add your logs of larger firewood.
Maintaining your fire
This is often where people go wrong.
Once the fire is lit and blazing people assume that the work is done but if you don’t maintain your fire, it is likely to go out as quickly as it started.
The aim is to start small and then build it up, so wait until the fire is really going before you add larger pieces of wood, making sure that you are in full control at all times.
You also need to remember that fire, even a small one contained on a campsite is very dangerous and accidents can easily occur.
It is crucial that you remain vigilant at all times regardless of whether you are camping with children or as a group of adults. You also need to keep an eye on the weather.
A change in wind speed for example could be a disaster if not observed and the fire alters accordingly.
It is easy to become complacent once the fire is burning but make sure you don’t get careless or start adding things to the flame that could cause it to get out of control.
We are all attracted it seems to an open flame and our natural human instinct is to throw things into the fire to see how they burn but this is a big no-no.
Adding combustible materials, plastics, cans, and trash could lead to the fire leaping out of control or harmful toxins being released into the atmosphere.
How To Create A Memorable Fire
For those that are looking for a few campfire tricks and want to try something different, consider adding a little color and pizzazz!
After cooking on the open flame and toasting your marshmallows, you may want to entertain the kids further by changing the color of your flame.
I do, however, need to stress that this is not something the children should be doing themselves as you will be mixing chemicals with fire and while the reaction should be minimal, the last thing you need is a trip to the emergency room because someone got too close to the fire.
Fun Campfire Tricks: How To Make Different Color Flames!
For this you are going to need candle wax, your chosen chemical and a paper cup or something similar and should probably be prepared ahead of your trip.
- Melt the wax over a flame.
- While waiting for the wax to melt, add about a ¼ inch of your chosen chemical to a paper cup.
- Take you melted wax and add it to the cup, stir well and make sure the chemical is completely covered in wax.
- Let the mixture cool overnight.
- Remove from the cup and add to the fire when ready.
Chemicals to use include:
- Magnesium Sulfate changes flame to White
- Borax changes flame to Light Green
- Copper Chloride changes flame to Blue
- Sodium Chloride changes flame to Orange
- Copper Sulfate changes flame to Green
- Lithium Chloride changes flame to Pink
- Strontium Chloride changes flame to Red
- Potassium Chloride changes flame to Purple.
Alternatively, you could sprinkle some sugar onto the fire to create small sparks; a bit of flour will create a flash flame while powdered coffee creamer will produce sparkly flashes.
However, with each of these, please be aware of your environment and the people surrounding you.
And please, please, please- be EXTRA CAREFUL whenever you are creating fun campfire tricks!!
Which brings us to our last bit of important information……
Campfire Safety Tips
As with anything, things are only dangerous if you don’t employ safety rules. Therefore make sure you follow these simple rules.
• Before lighting a fire, and after making sure fires are allowed at your campground, you also need to make sure there are no burn bans and it’s not too windy.
• Dig a pit away from overhanging branches, remove anything that could catch fire and circle it with rocks to help contain the fire.
• Stack any extra wood you may wish to use upwind and away from the fire.
• After lighting, throw the match into the fire.
• Never leave a campfire unattended; an adult should supervise the campfire at all times.
• Keep a bucket of water or sand and shovel nearby.
• Do not pull sticks out of the fire.
• Do not sit on the fire ring or rocks around the campfire. They will heat up quickly and they’ll stay hot for a long time. (Be sure everything near the fire is cooled before allowing children in the area- most campfire burns are from day-old campfires!)
• When it’s time to put the fire out, dump lots of water on it, stir it with a shovel, then dump more water on it. Make sure it is cold before leaving the campsite. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave!
If you follow these rules, everyone will remain safe, enjoy all of your fun campfire tricks, and you are guaranteed a fun-filled, relaxing camping experience.
Open fires symbolize the freedom camping offers and have long been a tradition for those that enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. We just need to remember that while they can be fun they are also a lot of hard work, they take time to prepare and in order to remain safe we all need to adhere to the rules.
I hope you found these campfire tricks, tips, and hacks helpful! Now, go out there and have some fun!!