How to Build a Fire: Tips & Tricks

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How to Build a Fire: Tips & Tricks

Since the beginning of time, there has always been a deep-rooted connection between man and fire. In ancient times, fire acted as a multi-faceted home essential; it was a source of warmth and light, a means to cook food, as well as a guard from wild animals. 

While fire is no longer a vital aspect of human survival, it is still useful to know how to start one. Whether you are an avid camper or simply want to create bonfires in your backyard, creating a fire is a practical skill to possess. Some of the best memories are made while bonding with loved ones around a fire. Especially with some marshmallows and s’mores!

There is something about that entrancing crackle of a flame that sparks insightful discussions and deep conversations. Sitting around a fire builds a great romantic atmosphere as well. What better way is there to enjoy the presence of another person than roasting some marshmallows with them around a pretty, cozy campfire? At the end of the day, every man should know how to start a fire

Choosing a Spot

Before you do anything, you should always make sure that campfires are permitted in the area you’re in. Regardless of your fire-starting skills, starting a fire in an area that isn’t designed for it can be a recipe for catastrophe. Many camping grounds and parks forbid building fires during the dry season, and some don’t allow it at all. 

Stay safe and always do your research before sparking up some flames. Remember, just one ember can cause an entire forest fire. If you’re unsure of your area’s rules regarding starting fires, check with your local police station, park visitor center, or ask a host directly if you’re at a camping ground or park. 

For your next camping trip, consider getting some supplies at Printed Kicks. We offer camping, hunting, and fishing-related gear like hats, shirts, and more. Always make sure you’re comfortable before getting your fire going. You’re going to need to be tending to it for multiple hours. 

Once you’ve made sure you’re in a safe area to start a fire, look for an open patch of ground with ample open space surrounding it. Avoid setting up your spot near any buildings or underneath low-hanging trees. Try to build it on sand or gravel, as it is less harmful to the land than building it on the soil. If possible, build your fire in a fire pit or ring. You can also build a makeshift fire ring with stones. 

Gathering Firewood

Now, it’s time to gather some firewood, either from a store or in the wild. The best type of wood to use for a fire is dry wood. The drier the wood is, the more flammable it will be. Wet or damp wood typically starts to smoke when lit, making it very difficult to ignite. 

An ideal fire should use three different types of wood: tinder, kindling, and fuel. Tinder is used to start the actual fire. You can use tiny pieces of wood like twigs, as well as dried moss and leaves as tinder.  Alternatively, you can also use sheets of newspaper, paper towels, pieces of egg carton, and dryer lint.  The most effective tinder is a material that ignites quickly. 

The next type of wood, kindling, is used to shape and structure the fire. Your kindling should act as the base for your fire, supporting and molding it. For your kindling, you can use pieces of wood slightly bigger and thicker than your tinder, like chopped wood or medium-sized sticks. Just stay away from using live branches, as they usually don’t burn well. 

Lastly, you’re going to need some fuel in the form of large logs of wood. Your wood should be about two to five inches in diameter. However, don’t go too big; if your fuel is too bulky, it will not burn as efficiently. Fuel is where a majority of the energy for your fire comes from. It is the material used to keep the fire going for an extended period of time. Once you run out of fuel, your fire will die out. 

Building the Structure

Just like there are several different types of firewood, there are also many variations of fire structures. The two types of structures we’re going to be covering in this piece are parallel or log cabin fires and teepee fires. Log cabin fires usually last longer, but teepee fires are better for cooking. 

Parallel or log cabin fires use layers of wood, stacked up in alternating directions. Think of the board game Jenga. In Jenga, you stack up three pieces of wood at a time, first horizontally, then vertically. Every layer faces the opposite direction of its top and bottom layer. This is what a log cabin fire looks like. 

To build a log cabin fire, place two pieces of firewood several inches apart, with a small bundle of tinder and kindling in between them. Then, place two more pieces of firewood on top of the first two pieces you laid down in a perpendicular fashion. Add another perpendicular layer of firewood on top of that one. Finally, light your tinder and kindle and continue to add more layers of firewood as the fire rises. 

In order to build a teepee fire, you’re going to want to build a ring of sticks, all leaning toward the center of the circle and holding each other up. The objective of this type of fire is to build a cone-like or teepee structure. Inside the teepee, place a small pile of tinder and ignite it. Continue to place more firewood around the structure to sustain the fire.

Keeping the Flame Alive

Keeping a fire burning outdoors is harder than it looks. But if you take the proper steps when making your fire and nurture it as it burns, it can last for several hours. For one, make sure there is room for ventilation on all sides of your fire structure. Sufficient oxygen is a vital ingredient of a strong fire. You can also blow on the flames or fan them with some cardboard to make them bigger. 

If your fire is starting to weaken, you can repeat the fire-building process and add some more tinder and kindle to it. Then, add some fuel to sustain it. Try not to allow your fire to die out completely, or else you’ll have to start from scratch entirely. 

Most importantly, never leave your fire unattended. A disaster can start in a matter of seconds when a fire isn’t being tended to. Always have at least one person watching it. 

Putting It Out

Before leaving, you have to put out your fire. To do so, sprinkle water onto the flames. Do not pour the water, as you can flood the fire pit and make it difficult for the next group of people to use. Also, do not use other liquids to put out the fire, as some liquids are flammable. 

Next, stir the ashes with a stick or shovel until there are no more glowing embers. You want to make sure that all the ashes are wet and incapable of being reignited. Once all of the steam and hissing noises are gone, you’ll know that you’ve successfully extinguished the fire. 

To confirm even further that the fire is out, very briefly touch a finger to some of the ash. Don’t actually place your whole hand on it, as you could possibly burn yourself on a searing ember. If you feel any type of heat, you can’t leave yet. Continue to add water and stir through the ashes until they’ve cooled off fully.

Try to start putting out your fire about twenty minutes beforehand, as the process can take longer than you expect. Most people believe that you can simply dump a bucket of water onto a fire, then leave. However, ignoring this last vital step is one of the easiest ways to cause a calamity. There is a reason why firefighters have such a hard time sometimes putting out fires. 


Despite its ancient history, knowing how to build a fire is still a practical tool to this day. Some of the fondest memories are created from sitting around a fire with your loved ones. Fortunately, brands like Printed Kicks are helping to bring this experience back by making unique and useful outdoor gear accessible and affordable.  

For your next camping trip or backyard get-together, spruce up the atmosphere and spark some engaging interactions by making a fire. Do your peers a service and provide them some warmth, as well as something fun to look at. There truly is nothing more mesmerizing than the beautiful flame of a fire. 



How to Build a Fire: Tips for Fireplaces and Campfires | The Manual

How To Build a Roaring Campfire | The Art of Manliness

How to Build a Better Fire: Both Outdoors and In | Lifehacker

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