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Campfire Building Techniques

Camping just wouldn’t be the same without a campfire! There’s something so calming about looking into a campfire at night, and getting warm after a long day in the great outdoors.

Building a campfire is easy once you know how. We use paper and wood, or even just wood, for starting our campfires. Some people use different types of lighter fluids or other things to get the fire going, but if you gather enough tinder (small sticks and twigs), you really don’t need to.

Hands filled with tinder and the caption - How to build a campfire with your kids

How to Make a Campfire – Quick Guide

  1. Collect enough tinder to fill your hands. Tinder should be no thicker than a pencil lead- the smaller the better.
  2. Collect enough kindling to fill your arms. Kindling should be as thick as your fingers.
  3. Collect some “fuel” – big pieces of wood as thick as your arm.
  4. Take some paper and roll it loosely into a ball.
  5. Create a “teepee” around the paper with all the tinder.
  6. Stack some of the kindling around the outside of the tinder.
  7. Stack a few of the “fuel” pieces of wood around the kindling.
  8. Light the paper with a match. 

WARNING: Only ever create a campfire in locations approved by the campsite owner. One Mighty Family is not responsible for your campfire – you must know the rules that apply if you choose to light a fire.

Now let’s look at how to make a campfire in a little more detail. I’m sharing all our best tips and tricks for building a roaring campfire, perfect for spending an evening stargazing beside. We’d love to see a picture of you enjoying your campfire once you’ve done it –  tag us on social media at @onemightyfamily.

You might also like: Tips for Camping With Toddlers

How to Build a Good Campfire

To make a great campfire, you need to build it up with small branches, or  wood chips in the middle, and then add gradually bigger pieces of wood on the outside.

The small pieces of tinder in the middle should catch the fire for long enough to start the kindling burning. Then the kindling needs to burn long enough for the bigger pieces of wood to catch fire. These are the pieces that give the best heat, and that you can cook on.

Some of our favourite campfire recipes are Dutch Oven Pulled Pork, Campfire Bread (also in the Dutch oven), Elderflower pancakes and, in case you’d like a change from pork – Pulled Chicken. 🙂

If you’ve never tried cooking over a campfire with a Dutch oven before, then take a look at Dutch Oven Campfire Cooking for Beginners.

Fill Your Hands With Tinder

To make sure you have enough tinder to get the fire started, you need to fill your hands with tinder.

This needs to be very dry, with each piece about the size of a pencil lead. (In the picture above, ours was a little thick.) If you think your twigs are too big, you can split them (carefully) with a knife. These will be at the very middle of your fire. Place them in the centre of the fire, around some paper if you have it. Old newspaper is great for this. Once you’ve finished setting it, you’ll start your fire by putting a match to the paper in the middle.

If the pieces of tinder you find are longer than from little finger to thumb, go ahead and break them in two, that’s what we do. Make sure you stack them like a teepee, leaving a small opening, so you can reach into the paper, (this makes it easier to start your fire). Don’t light it just yet – we need kindling too!

Kindling Wood

Once you have the tinder, you need to start looking for kindling. Stack the kindling wood around the outside of the tinder, so it can catch fire next. Each piece of kindling should be about as thick as a thumb, and as long as your arm from fingertips to elbow.

You should have enough kindling to fill your arms completely. Stack some of the kindling around the tinder before you light the fire, but also leave some next to the fireplace to put on later.

Place your kindling on top of the tinder in the “teepee” you’ve created. Build from the middle and outwards into what will become your campfire.


Now comes the fuel. These are logs about the size of your wrist and as long as your arm. You can wait to add these to the fire until you have the tinder and the kindling going. As the name suggests, these pieces of wood are big enough to “fuel” the fire for longer. Once they get going they will burn for about an hour (depending on the type of wood), and they are the logs that you can eventually cook something over.

Now, the only thing left is making those smurfs – or your favorite campfire food.

(We’d love to hear details in the comments below – we’re always looking for new recipes for tasty campfire treats!)

When will you be building your next campfire?

Until next time


This post is all about how to create a campfire for camping, step by step.