A safe fire is one on which nothing will burn except the fuel you feed your fire. It's a spot from which flames cannot spread. Parks and Scout camps may have large metal rings, grills, or stone fireplaces. Use these existing sites whenever you can.
Otherwise, select a spot on gravel, sand, or bare soil well away from trees, brush, dry grasses, and anything else that might burn. Look overhead for branches that sparks could ignite. Stay clear of boulders that may be blackened by smoke, or large tree roots that might be harmed by too much heat.
Clean the fire site down to bare soil, then remove all burnable material from the ground around it. Rake away pine needles, leaves, twigs and anything else that might burn. Save the ground cover so you can put it back when you are done with your fire. Keep a pot of water close by to douse the flames should they begin to spread.
Bare Ground Fire Site
When the ground is bare, haul enough mineral soil to the center of the cleared circle to make an earthen pad about two feet square and three inches thick. Kindle the fire on top of the pad, and the mineral soil will protect the ground from the heat. After you have properly extinguished the blaze and disposed of any unburned wood, crush the remaining ashes, mix them with the mineral soil, and return it to the sites from which you borrowed it.
Gather Tinder, Kindling, and Fuel wood
Patience is the key ingredient for successfully building a fire. You will also need tinder, kindling, and fuel.
Lay the Fire
There are many ways to arrange tinder, kindling, and fuel so that the heat of a single match can grow into flames of a campfire. A tepee fire lay or log cabin is a good all-around method:
- Place a big, loose handful of tinder in the middle of your fire site.
- Mound plenty of small kindling over the tinder
- Arrange small and medium-sized sticks of fuel wood around the kindling as if they were the poles of a tepee. Leave an opening in the "tepee" on the side the wind is blowing against so that air can reach the middle of the fire.
- Ease a burning match under the tinder. The flame should rise through the tinder and crackle up into the kindling and the fuel wood above.
Fuzz sticks can help get a fire going. Cut shavings into each stick, but leave them attached. Prop the fuzz sticks upright in among the kindling.
Fireplaces- A fireplace holds your cook pots above the flames and allows air to reach the fire.
Three-Point Fireplaces- For a single pot or pan, stick three metal tent stakes into the embers.
Wet-Weather Fire Tips
- Before the rain begins, gather tinder and kindling for several fires and store it under your dining fly.
- Keep a supply of dry tinder in a plastic bag.
- Split your wet sticks and logs with an ax The wood inside should be dry.
- Keep matches safe from dampness by carrying them in a plastic container with a tight lid.
- A butane lighter will give you flame in even the wettest weather. Store it away from heat.
Putting out a Campfire
Extinguish every fire when you no longer need it. Make sure it is cold out - cold enough so that you can run your hands through the ashes. Trickle, don't pour water on the embers, steam is hotter than bioling water and ash will go everywhere if you pour. Stir the wet ashes with a stick and wet them again. Repeat until you can touch every part of the fire site with your bare hands.
Cleaning a Fire Site
Clean a permanent fire site by picking out any bits of paper, foil, and unburned food. Pack them home with the rest of your trash. If you made a new fire site, erase all evidence it was ever there. Scatter any rocks, turning their blackened sides toward the ground. Spread cold ashes over a wide area and toss away extra firewood. Replace any ground cover. When you're finished, the site should look just as it did when you found it.