How To: Make a Campfire

There's a skill to making a good campfire. Follow this easy how-to for best results.

How to Make a Campfire


Building a fire was once an essential survival skill. But even in these times of portable heaters and grills, a campfire can come in useful. Follow these steps from Smokey the Bear on your next camping trip to build a long-lasting fire that will keep you warm on cool summer nights—and give you an excuse to roast marshmallows.

Scoutlander Log Cabin Fire
Determine the type of campfire.

There are basically four to consider:

Tepee: Lay kindling over tinder, like a tent.

Lean-To: Drive a long piece of kindling into the ground at an angle over the tinder, then lean smaller pieces against the longer piece.

Cross-Ditch: Criss-cross the kindling over the tinder.

Log Cabin: Surround your pile of tinder with kindling, stacking pieces at right angles. Top the “cabin” with the smallest kindling (illustrated right).

Gather wood. You’ll need three types: tinder (small twigs, dry leaves, or grass), kindling (sticks smaller than 1″ in diameter), and fuel (large pieces of wood). Loosely pile a few handfuls of tinder in the center of your fire ring or pit, then either lay or criss-cross the kindling over the tinder, depending on the type of fire you wish to build. For a cooking fire, using the Teepee or Lean-To method of adding kindling. For a longer-lasting fire, use the Cross-Ditch approach.

Light the fire. Ignite the tinder with a match or lighter.

Continue to fuel the fire. Add more tinder as the fire grows. To keep the fire going, blow lightly at the base of the fire and add kindling to the firewood.

And, of course, don’t forget to put out your fire! Visit to learn how to safely extinguish your campfire.

Want more How To? Browse all projects in 30 Days of Easy Summer DIY