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Tip of the Week: How to start a Campfire

March 13, 2013

Knowing how to start a campfire can make all the difference in the quality of your camping trip. Humans have been making cooking and campfires for a few hundred thousand years now. If this is a skill that is lost on you, read on.

Fire Triangle

How to start a campfireRecipe for combustion: There are three element that must be present to start a campfire: oxygen, fuel, and heat. You’ll need them in the right combination to get your fire started. Conversely, removing one or more of these elements is the key to extinguishing a fire that has started.


Bark: Look for dry inner bark from dead logs.

Moss: Dead dry moss makes an excellent fire starter.

Grass: Break down stalks of dry grass into fine fibers.

Fungus: The inner flesh from bracket fungus is flammable.

Cotton balls and petroleum jelly: A highly flammable mix.

Leaves: Dry dead leaves can always be found if you look.

Build it up

A good fire is built up gradually. Start with tinder—a fine flammable material that easily catches a spark. Once the tinder has begun to burn, add kindling—dry twigs and sticks no thicker than your little finger. As coals are created, progressively add larger pieces of fuel.

These are the basics for how to start a campfire. For more outdoor tips, check out Expert Companions: Outdoor.

Expert Companions: OutdoorMake the most of all of your outdoor adventures by being prepared—physically and mentally. Author Lachlan McLaine offers a distinctive blend of real-world advice for anyone with an adventurous spirit, including information on how to prepare for each excursion, what to wear, the no-exceptions-must-have tools and gear, and how to use the environment around you for cooking, camping, and—sometimes—surviving. Whether you’re an expert wilderness survivalist or simply looking to spend more time outside this is the essential handy reference guide for anyone with adventure on the mind.

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