Here’s how I get my campfire going whenever I want to cook with my camping tripod and dutch oven. Starting and maintaing a controlled fire for cooking is not always as easy as it looks; so here’s some tips to get you started.
1. GATHER MATERIALS. You will need kindling, small sticks, medium sticks, large pieces of wood and a method to light the fire.
KINDLING is the foundation of any fire. It is made of lightweight materials that are capable of burning quickly and igniting heavier materials. Kindling can be made from a mixture of twigs, tiny sticks, slivers of shaved wood, dried leaves, paper, cardboard, cotton balls, dryer lint, birch bark, dried grass, dried pine needles, etc. You’ll be using small sticks to then form a tepee and get your fire started.
STICKS will be used to hold your fire structure together and eventually light the larger pieces of wood. Properly aligning sticks will allow oxygen into your fire. Sticks used should be 1-2 inches in diameter, and broken to fit inside the fire pit. It’s important that sticks are dry and not taken from living, upright trees.
LARGE PIECES of wood will be added to the fire last. They should be dry and no more than 3-feet in length. Large pieces of wood should always be placed inside the fire pit.
2. Put 2 handfuls of kindling into a small pile. You can compact the pile into one softball size ball. The ball should be placed in the center of the fire pit.
3. Using your small sticks of kindling, build a small tepee around the kindling ball. Align your sticks at a 45-degree angle to the ground, making certain to leave some gaps in the tepee to allow oxygen to circulate inside the tepee.
4. Using your medium sized sticks, form a cabin styled structure around your tepee. Do this by placing 2 sticks on the ground outside the tepee, parallel to each other. Form a square by adding another 2 sticks. Repeat, until your cabin structure is three or four layers high. Note: Make sure the ends of your cabin overlap, so that your structure stays in place, and can continue to ignite larger pieces of wood which will be placed there later. Light the kindling.
5. Once the fire catches add the larger pieces of wood. Place several nice sized pieces of wood on two sides of the cabin you have just built. Now, rest two or three tiny branches or sticks on top of your cabin that touch both the cabin and the large chunks of wood you have just added. Add additional wood as needed. Remember to never leave your fire unattended.
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