Don’t underestimate the importance of using dry, seasoned firewood in your fire. The presence of moisture inhibits the combustion process, resulting in less fire and more smoke. While all firewood will have at least some moisture, you should avoid wood that’s noticeably damp or wet. Instead, choose firewood that’s been properly stored and seasoned over time.
Whether you’re building a campfire on the ground or in a fire pit, you should choose a location that’s protected from the wind. Even minor gusts of wind can make it difficult to start a fire — or keep a fire going. If you’re using a fire pit, for instance, perhaps you can set it up next to your house (just keep far enough away to prevent property damage). If you’re building a campfire in the wilderness, try creating your fire next to a ridge. The bottom line is that you need some type of wind break to protect the fire from wind.
A good campfire begins with tinder. It gets the fire burning hot more quickly, at which point you can add larger pieces of firewood. Some excellent tinger includes dry leaves, bark, wood shaving, grass and pine needles. Alternatively, you can bring your own tinder from home, such as dryer lint. The key thing to remember is that tinder should be small and exceptionally dry; otherwise, it’s not going to catch well (or at all). Alongside your tinder, you should also include some twigs and small sticks (kindling). The combination of tinder and kindling is guaranteed to get your fire burning hot.
Fire needs three key components to burn: heat, fuel (e.g. wood) and oxygen. As such, you need to create your fire in a manner that encourages airflow. You should still protect your fire from wind gusts via a wind break, but you should also design it with an open configuration so that air can flow through the fire. A teepee-style campfire is a popular choice for this very reason. Propping up the firewood in the shape of a teepee allows air to flow through the center, helping to fuel the fire and keep it burning hot.
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