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Video:How To Build a Campfire

with Jonathon Stewart

One of the most enjoyable things in the world is a long-burning campfire in the great outdoors. Check out these tips for getting a campfire going without harming the environment... or yourself.See Transcript

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Transcript:How To Build a Campfire

Hey guys - Jonathon Stewart here for About.com. So you're hanging out at your campsite, you've got your tent set up, bug spray applied, the sun is setting, and just one thing seems to be missing... your roaring campfire! Take a look at the following tips, and you'll be eating smores and telling ghost stories before you know it. Check it out.

Supplies Needed to Build a Campfire

You'll need just a few things to get your fire going:
  • tinder
  • kindling
  • wood
  • matches

Find a Safe Space to Build a Campfire

Before you do anything, you need to pick a safe spot to make your fire. Many campsites have fire rings like this one, which you should definitely use if it's provided. If not, pick an area that's away from trees or flammable brush, and make your own fire ring from large rocks. In any event, make sure your tent is a good ten or fifteen yards away, or you just might be singing, "the tent, the tent, the tent is on fire..."

Arrange the Campfire Tinder

Start by clearing away any old coals or pieces of debris, so you have a clean slate. Next, gather together your tinder. Tinder should be a natural material that's easy to light, and burns quickly. Dried brush or small fallen twigs fit the bill, but as long as you're not stranded in the middle of nowhere, newspaper does the trick just fine. Take single sheets and crumple them into tennis ball sized wads - about 12 to 15 will do.

Just make sure it's not laminated paper or anything that's drenched in chemicals. And, on that note, no using lighter fluid or any other synthetic fire-starter here either. You're on Mother Nature's turf here - have a little respect.

Add the Campfire Kindling

Next, it's time for your kindling, which is loosely defined as small pieces of wood that should ignite relatively easily, but burn long enough to catch your wood on fire. Dried bark or small pieces of wood work best here - arrange them in either an X pattern or a teepee pattern. Just make sure there's room for air to move easily to all parts of your fire.

Light the Campfire

Before we light this puppy, just remember: safety first. Never put your head too close to wood that can pop and crackle when lit, and never leave your fire unattended. As the old bear fella says, "Only YOU can prevent forest fires."

Add Wood to the Campfire

Finally, add your wood to the pile, again being careful not to smother the kindling or tinder. Make sure your wood is properly aged and dry, otherwise lighting it will be an uphill battle. Light the tinder from all four compass points, and allow it to slowly catch.

As the tinder ignites, slowly blow air into the fire to allow it to burn hot enough for the kindling to catch. Continue this process until the wood ignites, then sit back, relax, and continue adding wood as you go.

Be sure to spread the coals out and sprinkle water on your fire to douse it before going to sleep. You can also use dirt to smother the fire, or just stay up all night, enjoying the world the way we used to before electricity came along and ruined everything.

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