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Simple ways to start—and grow—a campfire

There are few things more enjoyable than a campfire. Read on to learn how to start a fire everyone will gather around to chat, warm up and watch the flames dance.
A campfire is seen at night
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June 27, 2018 02:08 PM
  1. Start with a good pile of fuel

    Check with the campground for any restrictions on wood burning. Some spots allow you to burn wood only from onsite (to avoid spreading tree disease). Others forbid gathering any wood in the campground. Instead, all wood must be purchased from the host or brought in.

  2. Variety is key

    Regardless of where you get your wood, aim for a mix of sizes: from tinder (dry grass, newspaper, pine needles) and kindling (small, thin, dry sticks) to get the fire going, up to large, dense logs that will keep the fire burning for hours.

    It can be handy to bring a small hatchet in case you need to break up bigger pieces. If you can, avoid wood that isn’t thoroughly dried out, as it can smoke heavily.

  3. Add fire starters to get your blaze going

    You can buy fuel-soaked starters, but it’s simple to prep effective starters—that both work beautifully and are less toxic—at home.

    Stuff each of the dozen spots in a cardboard egg carton with dryer lint. Melt down some old candle wax (you can put it into a saved food can and half-submerge it in boiling water). Then pour the melted wax over each ball of lint.

    After the wax cools and hardens, snip it into individual mini-starters or leave it as is for one large bonfire booster. A simpler version is simply to load up an egg carton with a dozen pieces of charcoal and light the cardboard.

  4. Other tips to get your fire going

    Other quick boosts for a struggling fire include the following: birthday candles (all the better if you have the trick version that you can’t blow out), a squirt of hand sanitizer, a cotton ball soaked in petroleum jelly, alcohol pads from your first aid kit, cotton pads dipped in wax, or even a fluffed-up tampon. Yes, seriously.

    P.S. Most of the recipes in Coleman’s Outdoor Adventure Cookbook can also be made on a camping stove.

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January 18, 2018 09:48 AM