Infographic: How to build the perfect campfire

Infographic: How to build the perfect campfire

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How to build the perfect campfire

Whether you’re looking to grill the day’s catch, stay warm on a cool summer night, or just keep the boogeyman away, follow these steps and you’ll have a roaring campfire in no time!

Prepare your site

Choose a spot that’s protected from the wind and clear of overhead tree limbs and branches.

Dig a circular pit, 6 to 12 inches deep and 3 to 4 feet in diameter. Circle the pit with large stones or bricks to contain the hot coals.

Gather tinder and wood

Tinder is the material you’ll ignite to start your fire. Good tinder is easy to light, but burns very quickly. It might include:

• Pine needles

• Dry leaves

• Newspaper

• Wood shavings

*Tip – Balls of dryer lint, soaked in petroleum jelly, are one of the best fire starters around. The lint ignites easily and the petroleum jelly keeps the flame burning longer. Make a few ahead of time and take them on your next excursion. (great tip! I didn’t know that)

Kindling – Small sticks and twigs, about the width of a pencil

Fuel wood – Larger branches, logs and split wood, about the width of your wrist or larger.

*Tip – While damp fuel wood may still burn, kindling must be completely dry to ignite. Try bending a piece of kindling. It should snap. If it bends, it won’t make good kindling.

Build a teepee

The teepee shape is one of the most efficient shapes for fire building. The design allows for plenty of airflow, as well as contact between the wood.

• Place the tinder in a loose bundle in the middle of your fire pit.

• Build the teepee by balancing pieces of kindling against one another

Light the tinder

Light the tinder in a few places to ensure it catches fire.

*Tip – Do not use gasoline or other accelerants when starting your fire. They can be dangerous and harmful to the environment. If properly constructed, your fire should start fine without them. 

As the kindling begins to burn, slowly add more kindling, small to large.

Add fuel wood

Once all the kindling is lit, and the fire is nice and hot, begin adding your fuel wood, starting with the smaller pieces.

*Tip – Do not add too much wood too fast. You’ll smother the fire.


You just built a fire that would make any Boy Scout proud. Kick back and bask in the warmth of your handiwork. Don’t forget to feed your fire with more fuel wood, or you could be left out in the cold.

Written and illustrated by Brandon Smith.

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