With the cool evenings this week across the Midwest, it’s the perfect weather to pull the family together for an evening campfire.
Although fire has been around since before hot-pockets and toaster-strudels, many of us still find it impossible to get a great fire going, with the biggest obstacle being a lack of preparation. Many promising attempts have failed at that level. Here is an 8-step guide to learn the art of making fire the SpringHill way (with one match!).
Step 1: Scout the perfect location
Make sure it is 10ft from vegetation and structures, and check above to ensure branches are not overhanging. If you do not have chairs, look for an area with natural seating like logs, rocks or soft grass.
Step 2: Gather the right supplies
Collect three kinds of wood:
- Tinder: 6-8 handfuls (leaves, pine-needles, tiny twigs)
- Kindling: 15-20 sticks and twigs (about the thickness of a thumb)
- Fuel: 6-10 large pieces of wood (about 4 pieces per 1/2 hour of burn)
You will also want something to use as a fan or bellows – any piece of cardboard, a Frisbee, or old magazine will do. Also, be sure to have water or sand on hand to put out the fire at the end.
Step 3: Set up your base layer
Start with half of your tinder in a pile and build a small teepee of kindling around it, leaving room for airflow. Be aware of the direction of any wind and leave a gap in the teepee upwind; this will help fan your flames once you get going.
Next, create a channel with two pieces of fuel-wood on either side of the teepee, and stack two more pieces of fuel-wood to create a “fort”.
Step 4: Ignite the pile
Add flame from several points, using the gap you left open. At this point, use your body as a wind-block, so you can do this with one match.
Step 5: Fan the flame
If you have a breeze, now is the time to let it do it’s job. If not, use a piece of cardboard, your Frisbee, or an old magazine to provide additional wind. If you must resort to blowing, use quality over quantity, and keep your distance – hyperventilation is dangerous here.
Step 6: Add wood as needed
Depending on the dryness of your fuel, the kindling may need replenished, which is why you only used half at the start. You will probably do this twice.
Keep the flames hot and below the fuel as you continue to add wood.
Step 7: Transition to sustainable
When your fuel logs are on fire and keep burning by themselves, add 2 more to build up the fort. When adding wood, be cautious of “topple hazard” and height of flame.
Step 8: “I said a BOOM CHICKA BOOM!”
Now your fire is ablaze, but make it even better with a camp song or s’mores!
Whether you are camping at a KOA Kampground, enjoying a retreat at your favorite denominational camp, or trying to rough it in the great outdoors, follow those easy steps and you will be the envy of your friends and family for years to come. Just remember to always check your local regulations to ensure that open flames are permitted, and be aware of the current fire-danger level in your area. Bon-(fire)-a-petit.