How to Build A Fire

Posted by Mike McGinnis on 13th Apr 2021

How to Build A Fire

The Easiest Way to Build a Campfire

It’s Time to Heat Things Up!

I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s that time of the year again when a warm, crackling fire sounds like an excellent idea. Well, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with a quick tutorial on how to get the perfect blaze going in no time.

First, always remember that the most crucial part of fire-building is making safety your number one priority. This means ensuring the area is clear of debris or anything flammable that you don’t want to go up in flames. For example, dry leaves, a tent, your clothes, or — from personal experience — your hair. If you happen to be building a fire indoors in a fireplace, always make sure the flue is open, and the chimney has been cleaned properly.

The Fire Triangle

And no, it’s not related to the Bermuda Triangle, unfortunately. The “fire triangle” is a nifty trio made up of fuel, oxygen, and heat. If you take away any one of these three key elements, your fire is going to go out. Of course, you could go the boring route and get some of those easy-light logs. But let’s assume we’re being adventurous and want to build a fire like our ancestors did because that’s the more satisfying method, right?

So to do this, we want to start by gathering tinder and kindling. And by tinder — and no, not the dating app, though that would be interesting — I mean anything that’s easily ignitable like grass, pine straw, or dry leaves. Next up is kindling, which is just a fancy term for sticks. 

There are three types of thickness for kindling: 

  1. Pencil lead thickness
  2. Pencil Thickness
  3. Thumb thickness. 

A mixture of all three kindling sizes ensures you have the perfect trifecta for building a strong flame.

Some more specific examples of different types of tinder and kindling you could use are wax twine, a mixture of vaseline and cotton balls, “fatwood”, and birch bark. Both the wax twine and cotton ball mixture are readily available and inexpensive options. “Fatwood” is chock full of pine resin, which helps to keep the fire burning, while birch bark is extremely dry and quick to catch flame.

Back to Basics

It’s also essential to start with a good, dry base on which to build a fire. This prevents the cold and dampness from the ground from getting drawn up into the fire, what is known as the “wicking effect.” Look for a piece of wood — it doesn’t need to be completely flat, but ideally, you want the flattest piece of wood you can find because it’s easier to build a fire on. It’s also a good idea to create a makeshift fire pit with some rough rocks and dirt, essentially making the fire easier to maintain once you’ve got it going.

Also, this may sound like stating the obvious, but the drier the wood is, the easier it’s going to be to get the fire going. It’s also important to arrange the kindling in a way that increases the surface area — more surface area means more opportunities to burn — and pile the sticks loosely with the tinder to improve airflow. Once you’ve gotten a decent blaze going with the tinder and kindling, you can then add the logs.

Patience is a Virtue

Remember to be patient when building a fire, especially if it’s your first time. It may look easy, but building and maintaining a fire is a slow and steady process. And, like any time you’re learning new things, sometimes accidents happen. That’s where Mountain Mike’s Remedies Stops the Sting can come in handy. The fun fact is that it works to help heal and restore the skin from minor burns! Plus, if you’re outside camping, there’s bound to be a few bugs around, double-duty! It’s the perfect size to fit in your pocket on any outdoor adventure. And also just as easy to stash in your cabinet at home.

Simply dab it on the burn (or sting) and allow it to absorb, then reapply as necessary. For most minor burns, you should begin to feel relief within 30 minutes to an hour, with most redness and pain gone by the following day. Of course, if it is a severe burn, please seek medical help because, while Stops the Sting is incredibly effective, even it has its limits! Burns aside, the fact is that nowadays, being able to go outdoors can be a necessary relief after most of us have been cooped up indoors for the past year, so get out there and light those fires — safely, of course.

And don’t forget, you can watch it all play out in our handy dandy fire startin’ video, right here!