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The Beginner’s Guide To Starting a Campfire: A How-To For Camping, Backpacking, Hiking, & Bushcraft

Basic Campfire Starting

What’s up guys. Like in the woods here and today I bring you the beginners guide to starting the campfire. Now I know that for you more experienced viewers, it may seem obvious now but think back to when you first started.

I bet some of your first few campfires, where as terrible as mine, so I made this guide to help out those of you who are just getting interested in the outdoors and are struggling to get your first campfires going by the time this video is done.

You should have everything you need to get a nice basic straightforward campfire going out in the woods all right. So first thing… let’s go over campfire terminology. Fire materials are generally split into three categories.

You have tinder, which is what first catches on fire. You have your kindling, which rapidly accelerates and grows your fire. Then you have fuel which maintains your fire may have heard these before and you might even have had a basic idea of what they are.

Going In Depth About Tinder

But let’s kick down to the curb and go more in depth tinder. Our first category is the highly flammable material that first catches fire from your match, lighter fire, steel or other fire starting method.

A lot of beginners aren’t aware of the step of the fire making process and often fail to get a fire going easily because of this. So what makes a good tinder a good tinder material is defined by two characteristics: it’s dry and it’s fluffy.

You want it dry, because even the slightest bit of moisture will throw a wrench into your fire starting process. If it’s, damp, try putting it in your pocket till your body heat, dried up, and you want it fluffy, because the more surface area to volume ratio you have, the more area is exposed to the heat source and the greater your chances are Of ignition tinder does not just come, naturally, as fluffy as it can be.

You can crush, shred, and smash it to fluff it up and more on this in a bit. Kindling is the fire’s accelerant killing is what grows your fire from the small smoldering flames of the tinder to the larger locks.

And just like tinder, you want your kindling to be as dry as possible, and you want to gather an array of kindling of varying widths from wire widths pieces. All the way up to thumb width pieces if they’re long pieces break them apart to be no longer than about half the length of your forearm and finally, few logs are the main long lasting component of your fire.

Choosing The Right Size Firewood For Starting Your Campfire

It’s the end goal the larger pieces of firewood that will eventually catch fire and sustain your fire generally, the thinner, you feel wood, the more intense your fire will burn, but the more quickly it will burn out also unlike tinder kindling.

It’s okay, as long as your fire is constructed properly, with lots of kindling for your fuel logs to be a bit damp and not that’s damp, not soaked. The fire will dry them out as the kindling burns, and the fuel logs will eventually catch fire.

The 3 Key Components To A Campfire

So, to sum it up, those are three key components to a fire. Every good campfire from the small to the large are made from these three types of fire-making materials. All right, so you now know about the three fire-making materials, but now comes the process of actually selecting firewood.

The biggest mistake I see new people make is attempting to cut down live healthy trees for firewood. Please don’t do this. Not only does this lead lessly waste a perfectly healthy, growing tree, but it also makes for terrible firewood. Live tree wood is filled with water, so no point in using live trees when I can almost guarantee you that there’s an abundance of dead trees and logs around there are what’s called standing dead trees that are dead, but still sticking up like a live tree.

But if you can’t tell the difference. It’s best to just stick to logs that have already fallen over onto the ground. Try to pick logs that are elevated up off the ground, especially if there’s been rainfall or snow recently, as logs directly lying on the ground are more likely to be damped.

Also you don’t have to avoid rotting wood. Although its fuel value goes down, the warrant rots it’s still flammable and perfectly safe to burn as long as you let any moss or fungi completely burn away before cooking over it.

It’s also a good idea to go for thinner logs. If you don’t want to have to process your wood down to smaller widths, the thicker the firewood pieces, the longer they’ll burn, but at less intensity.

So if you want a longer burning, fire go for the thicker pieces and if you want a shorter, more intense fire go for thinner pieces. Remember that you can always split larger pieces down into smaller ones, with an axe.

More About Tinder

Tinder is the most important part of your fire without a good tinder to catch a spark or flame and spread to your kindling. You just don’t have a fire plain and simple. So if there’s, anything you take away from this video about building fires, please let it be this section about tinder.

As mentioned before, a good tinder is both dry and fluffy. This can be either be tinders you bring with you or natural materials you can gather from the environment. In either case most tenders don’t come fully ready to be used out of the box.

You surely require some minor processing to maximize the surface area to volume ratio for its most efficient use. Depending on the tinder type, you’ll use one of four ways to process it… by shredding it into thin, fibers or chunks; by pounding it to break apart fibers; by scraping it to produce shavings or dust; or by crumbling it to break it apart into smaller pieces. And to give you a head-start of over some man-made and natural tenders that are most commonly used, including the processing strategy, natural tinders include birch bark, which you can shred into thin curly wisps wood shavings by scraping off very fine shavings, dead, pine needles by pounding them to expose their pitch or the resin that’s inside and leaves dead leaves obviously by crumbling them into small pieces.

Man-made tenders include dry lint. You can shred it to fluff it up. Toilet paper or tissue paper shred it into tiny pieces. Foam – shred it into tiny pieces. And duct tape by shredding it into thin strands. Obviously, that’s not a big list of every possible tinder ever just use some common sense and think about which of the four processing strategies would produce the best results with whatever tender you have.

If you’re still not sure try separating your tinder into four small piles and trying each strategy out on a single pile, remember that this is the step you want to spend the time on.

Observe Fire Bans When Building Your Campfire

One final thing to discuss before we get started actually building the fire safety. Well, it might be a lame topic to some of you. It is important to let you know you want to cause a forest fire or let yourself in the fire. The first point of safety, don’t ever start a fire if there’s a fire ban in effect generally, fire bans exist because the area is super and just begging for a spark to catch everything on fire.

If you have the option, never start a fire when there’s a fire ban in effect. Now obviously in a survival situation, you may have no choice in this circumstance, and only if you have no choice just be extra cautious about your fire setup and make absolutely 100 % sure that your fire will not spread isolate it like it’s got the damn TV virus be sure to consider what’s above your fire to the main safety is to clear out at least one meter.

More if the above fire ban is in effect all around your fire spot and get rid of all the dried leaves and sticks, and anything else flammable then dig down at least an inch right under where your fire is going to sit just to be sure there’s nothing flammable underneath easy stuff – okay?

Let’s Get To Work And Start That Campfire Now

So ready to actually start building our fire?

First, you want to take two equal sized fuel logs and lay them down parallel as shown here – close enough so that you can lay another set perpendicular across them. As shown here, basically forming a square repeat this process to make it as high as you want, but generally I don’t go any more than about three layers high! You’ll notice that there’s big gaps between the pieces of wood.

Why is that you might be asking? Break out the technical side of things for a second remember that fire is a result of combustion. Combustion requires two things: fuel, which is your wood, and oxygen, which comes from the air.

So for an optimal fire, your setup needs to breathe, and the way to do this is through creating gaps for oxygen to be drawn in easily through convection from the bottom or base of your fire tightly packed firewood, prevents this and will not burn anywhere near as efficiently.

The next step is to put in your kindling. Lay your kindling inside the empty square. The fuel logs have formed criss-crossing, if possible, to avoid the kindling being densely packed together for the same reason and try to have the smaller pieces of kindling towards the top, and I’ll go over why shortly.

If you’re short on kindling, try laying it across the second highest layer of fuel logs to create a sort of platform, and the final step is to place your tinder bundle on top of your kindling in a way that’s bundled to get firmly but still fluffed up and ready to take a spark.

Then you light up that tinder bundle using whatever your preferred method of fire starting is, and it’s. At this point, I’ll explain why we set up our campfire the way we did. The tinder will rapidly accelerate your initial flame to burn up the tinder bundle, which will then transfer to the kindling.

Since we put the smaller kindling on top, it’ll catch fire the easiest which will grow and accelerate spreading to the larger pieces. Eventually, the pile of kindling will collapse into the center of the few logs and continue to burn this entire time.

The heat from the flames is getting rid of any moisture left over inside of the main fuel logs, which will eventually catch fire. The end result is a nice wide fire made for a minimal wood that will produce good coals for cooking and heat.

Now You Just Need To Maintain Your Campfire

From this point, you can continue to feed the logs into the fire over time, laying down two pieces at a time following the same rough pattern of parallel logs in an alternating pattern, and there you go.

That was the basics of fire building, whether you’re a newcomer looking to head out and build your first fire or just looking for a refresher. Hopefully there was something valuable for you in this video.

If you’ve never used a fire steel or ferro rod before I’ll link my tutorial video in the description below, as well as the link to my playlist of all other tutorials and how-tos, so be sure to check those out.

Additionally, I’ll leave a couple Amazon affiliate links to some fire starting tools, so be sure to check those out if you want to help out the channel thanks for watching and make sure you like subscribe, and maybe even share this video.

If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please leave them in the comment section below and I’ll catch you guys next week or avoir, my friends

Source : Youtube



    Hormart Expeditions

    December 12, 2021

    nice 👍🏻


    April 25, 2022

    @Tactics4Tweets Hey buddy. We’re looking for people to connect with on youtube/Instagram. Let me k…

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