If you’ve ever camped during fall or winter you’ve probably struggled to make a fire with damp wood. Although that times it seems impossible, here’s a guide that’ll teach even a first-time camper how to make an awesome campfire.
The first thing you’ll need to do is collect wood for the fire. Try to find dry pieces of wood that vary in size. After you’ve gathered wood, the next thing you’ll face is the moist ground. To get around this, you’ll need to build a platform to start your fire on. Place two chunks of hardwood parallel to each other about 6 inches apart. Next, lay several branches on top of the hardwood, building a platform. This will allow oxygen to seep in from under you fire, a crucial part of any successful campfire. Then, place some of your larger branches to make a box around your platform. You can even make this several branches high if you plan on making a bigger fire. This formation will trap heat in and will allow you to place thick pieces of wood without having to worry about it closing, unlike in traditional teepee campfires.
Next, you’ll want to find some dry twigs to supplement your fire with. As a general tip, branches you find on the ground are usually wet, while wood hanging above the ground is better suited for a fire. Because wet wood often has a dry core, you’ll want to baton larger pieces of wood with a sturdy knife until they are about the width of your thumb. Once cut down, these pieces will catch fire much more easily and burn for hours. Along with this, any dead leaves of branches that are dry can be used in the beginning stages of the fire. Remember that you won’t be able to find a perfectly dry piece of wood and that you don’t need one to have a good campfire. After you have some wood for your fire all that’s left is to gather some kindling. Pine resin or pine needles, tree bark, dry leaves, paper can be used for kindling. If you don’t have access to any of these, you can shave off paper-thin feather sticks from larger pieces of wood with a knife.
If you’d like, you can now make a second level of your platform for your kindling and smaller pieces of wood. There will fall below and create embers for a much larger fire. These embers will allow your firewood to burn for hours and evaporate any moisture in your wood. Begin by placing smaller sticks and twigs before slowly adding on larger pieces. The biggest focus point is to make sure that you give enough space for oxygen to reach the fire. After a couple of hours, it is possible that your fire has died down quite a bit. If you are worried that it will go out you can use a piece of cardboard or a notebook to fan the fire. This will send oxygen to the fire and rekindle the embers. Use smaller pieces of wood to give your fire a little boost whenever you feel it’s necessary.