How to Create a Campfire - Part 4: Lighting and Cleaning Up

How to Create a Campfire - Part 4: Lighting and Cleaning Up

The final part in our series on making a campfire will teach you how to light the fire and will address the often under-appreciate art of "cleaning up".

Lighting You Campfire

Light the tinder with a match or lighter. Using a fire starter that is designed to easily ignite can help the tinder catch the flame. (Be sure to carry waterproof matches and firestarter. Fire-making materials are considered one of the key essentials to always have with you.)

After lighting the tinder, blow lightly at the base of the fire to provide oxygen, which will help increase the intensity of the flame and further ignite the wood.

As the fire burns, move embers to the centre to burn them completely. Ideally, you should reduce them to white ash.

Putting Out the Fire

Always check with local land managers for their recommendations, and follow their steps if they provide them. Generally, though, you should extinguish your fire by pouring water on it (be careful not to stand where the steam can scald you), stirring the ashes, then applying more water. Repeat as often as needed. Ashes should be cool to the touch before you leave the site. Be utterly certain a fire and its embers are out and cold before you depart.

Note that the practice of using dirt or sand to extinguish a fire is problematic because it can insulate coals, which can become uncovered later, igniting a wildfire. Never leave a campfire unattended!

Cleaning Up the Campfire Site

Burn trash items only if they can be fully consumed by fire and turned to ash. Do not attempt to burn plastic, cans or foil. If you do burn something that’s not fully consumed, collect the remains when the fire is out and either pack it out or put it in a trash receptacle.

Camping Cleanup

When you’re in the backcountry, pack out any trash found in your pit. Extract any charcoal pieces left inside your ring, carry them away from your site, crush the chunks, then scatter the remnants and dust throughout a broad area. Dismantle any structure you might have built.

We really hope you enjoyed our 4 part series on creating a campfire.  Stay tunes for more tips and tricks from the "Trail Mix" blog.

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