Table of Contents

Have you ever been camping and just couldn’t build a campfire? Or maybe you could build the campfire but it didn’t burn for long enough? There’s certain ways to build a campfire that can ensure it will burn longer and more efficiently. Once you know the basics of how to build a fire then you can learn how to build different types of campfires that have different uses.

There are many different ways you can build a camp fire and each one of these has a different purpose. Some campfires are build in such a way to burn for a longer time or others actually direct the heat in just one direction. But which one should you build on your next camping trip? This all really depends on what you are using the fire for and where you are camping. Maybe you just want to have a big beautiful fire that keeps everyone around it nice and toasty. But, you would want to build a different fire if you wanted to cook on it.

Autumn Campfire

How to Build a Campfire: The Basics

Before you make a fire you need to make you know the basics. Fire uses oxygen as its fuel, so you need to make sure that the fire can “breath”. Meaning that there is a good airflow through the fire. If you clog the fire up with too many small sticks and leaves (or kindling) then there won’t be enough air to keep the fire going and you’ll just be left with a lot of smoke.

Other than air the fire needs to be dry. You can’t just grab a limb off of a tree and light it on fire. You need to have wood that’s been cured, or left out to dry and harden. Be cautious of this when gathering firewood, even though a branch is already on the ground doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have any moisture in it. To check if a piece of wood is dry enough to burn you should be able to break it and hear a snap. If the wood just bends or folds then there is too much moisture and it will prove difficult to burn.

And if you’re fire pit is wet on the inside it doesn’t matter how dry your wood is, you won’t be able to start a fire. Before you build a fire, check if your fire pit is wet. If it is then you should shovel out all of the mud until the area is totally dry.

Different Types of Campfires

Now that you know the basics of what it takes to light a fire you can learn how to make different styles of campfires. Each campfire has its own sets of benefits and some have their own drawbacks too. Try some of these the next time you go camping and find out which one suits your camping needs the best.

The Lean-To

The “Lean-To” is a great fire for directing the heat in one specific direction. This is useful if there are only one or a couple of people trying to enjoy the heat of the fire. In order to make a lean-to style campfire you need a few larger logs and many medium and small logs and of course, some kindling.

How to Build the Lean-To

First, you stack the larger logs perpendicular to where you want the heat directed, only two or three logs high. Then you take the smaller logs and lean them from the ground to the top of the large logs. As if the small logs are pointing up towards where the heat is wanted. Lastly, under the lean-to created from the small logs you stuff with kindling and even some small logs if they fit.

The Log Cabin

Just like a naturally made Lincoln Log cabin, this fire look just like you would think. But this fire also serves as a great radiator of heat, making this a go to fire for larger groups. This style of fire also burns the wood a little bit slower keeping you and your friends water for longer. Not only that, it also just so easy and fun to make!

How to Build the Log Cabin

First, stack two medium sized logs as if they were the left and right sides of a square. Then take your next two logs and put stacked across the others as if they were the top and bottom sides of the square. Continue to repeat this pattern until you have a structure that resembles a sturdy log cabin. Then fill the center of the “cabin” with small sticks and kindling.

The Swedish Fire

This is a very unique fire type that allows for an easy way to cook. But it only uses one log, and you need a saw to make this one. While it is much more involved then making the other types of fires, it can be worth it. Especially if you prep the log before your camping trip and don’t have to bring a saw with you. You can easily place a pot or pan on the top of the log as if it were a burner on a stove.

How to Build the Swedish Fire

Take a very large log, the size of a medium sized drum. With the log standing up like it would if it was still a tree, you’ll need to cut the log on the top. Make cuts in the log with the saw as if you were slicing a pie into five slices. And saw down only about a quarter to halfway down the log. In the spaces that you just cut you can fill with kindling. Light the log and let it burn!

Tee-Pee Fire Example

The Tee-Pee

The tee-pee fire is a classic one! This is the campfire that you usually see on old camping photos and marketing materials. And for good reason, too. This campfire is perfect for your larger groups of camping as it evenly spreads the heat across the circle around it. It also provides more light (and taller flames!) than other styles, keeping your campsite nicely lit in the dark of the wild.

How to Build the Tee-Pee

For this fire you just make a pile of kindling and small sticks in the middle of the fire pit. Then, around the pile of kindling lean two small logs against each other until they hold each other in place. After that you just continue to lean small logs against each other until you make a wooden tee-pee and completely covered the kindling pile. And that’s it!

The Upside Down Fire

This fire is the best when it comes to cooking. It not only burns for long time, it also creates a solid platform that is quite easy to cook on top of. This fire is built a bit backwards from a regular fire, hence the name Upside-Down fire. This allows the fire to successfully burn for hours long!

How to Build the Upside Down Fire

First, the largest logs are placed on the bottom of the fire neatly parallel to each other. Then the next layer of logs decrease in size. You continue this pattern until you can’t get any more smaller logs. Leaving you to just a create a pile of tinder and kindling on the very top. Light the kindling and joy the fire for the rest of the night!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Stay up to date on the Nomadic Lifestle

More To Explore:

Man Camping With Dog

How To Go Tent Camping With A Dog

Dogs can have a blast with you tent camping, but things don’t always go as planned. That’s why it’s always a good idea to plan ahead especially when it comes to tent camping with a dog. Here are a few tips and tricks for your next camping trip with your dog!

Read More »
Beautiful Tiny Home in the redwood forest

Tiny Home Living: What You Need to Know

As urban spaces become increasingly crowded and the cost of living continues to rise, many are seeking alternative ways to live that are both fulfilling and sustainable. Enter the tiny home movement, a trend that’s not just about downsizing your living space but also about redefining what “home” means.

Read More »
skoolie school bus

My First Skoolie Road Trip

It was my first time traveling in the school bus and even though it was new to me, it wasn’t a new vehicle by any means. But no matter how I got there, there I was, about to start a 1500 mile journey.

Read More »