How to Build a Proper Campfire

The campfire is indispensable outdoor tradition. No camping or outdoor adventure is ever complete without a luminous and mesmerizing campfire to set the right mood for the rest of your trip.

Here is how you can build a proper campfire.

When building a campfire in campgrounds, make sure you only build it in designated fireplaces, grills and rings. There are many developed campgrounds that offer different version of these. When you use a fire ring, you can contain your fire for a safe and hassle-free campfire.

Make sure to check with the campground operator whether you are allowed to make a campfire. Car Campers also need to know if they need a campfire permit. You can easily get your required info by checking with the agency that administers the land.

Before you start to build a fire, carefully inspect the site. In case it is covered with low-hanging or bushy branches, keep your fire small. You may need to shift to another campground since fly-away embers could instantly ignite a fire in dry conditions.

You need to use an existing fire ring in backcountry areas. Fires are permitted in this area. Build a new fire ring only in an emergency situation. Clean it before you leave.

It is also important to get rid of any flammable material from the fire pit. In a perfect situation, the base of the fire should be mineral soil, gravel or sand. Choose your size carefully as severe heat can sterilize healthy soil.

Another substitute to a fire ring is a mound fire. You can use your towel to create a flat and circular platform of mineral soil which should be around six to eight inches high. This should serve as a base of the fire. It is best to build it on a flat rock to disperse the mound when you are done.

Kindling and firewood are assembled in various ways. Popular styles include:

Log cabin

Take two large pieces of firewood and place them parallel to each other. Leave a bit room in between to create your structure’s base Turn 90 degrees and keep two relatively smaller pieces on top and perpendicular so that a square is formed.

Take plenty of tinder and place it inside this square. Add more firewood layers around the perimeter and get a little bit smaller with every layer. End with a layer of tinder and kindling across the top. You should also leave ample space between the logs to give a good amount of oxygen to your fire.


Begin with a small-sized cone of kindling around handfuls of tinder which are loosely stacked in the fire ring’s center. As soon as the fire goes strong and a good temperature is attained, add big logs a few at a time.


For building this type of campfire, begin with three or five large logs kept side by side on the bottom layer.

Turn 90 degrees and put smaller logs in a layer on top. Keep going in the same way and get smaller with each layer. Place your tinder and kindling on top.

Now light the tinder using a lighter or a match. Make sure you have waterproof matches and fire starter.

Blow lightly at the base once you have lit the tinder. This way you give more oxygen to intensify the flame. Move embers to the center.

Bottom Line

For extinguishing, pour water on the fire to stir the ashes. Repeat as needed. Make sure all embers are out before you leave the site.


Jim Sabellico

Jim Sabellico

Jim Sabellico is the founder of, and an avid outdoors fan who loves traveling the world with his family, cooking over an open campfire and all things outdoorsy. When Jim isn't camping, he's running his marketing agency J. Louis.

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