The Perfect Camp Fire - How To Safely Setup A Campfire

When you’re out exploring there’s nothing better than a good meal at the end of the day, and a lot of things just seem to taste better when you’re eating them under an awning beside your 4wd. The perfect finishing touch is a hint of wood smoke. You can get loads of great camping stoves now but for the perfect experience it’s hard to beat a proper campfire. There’s more to lighting the perfect fire than just piling some wood up and sparking a light though. Let’s look at how you do it.

The first thing you need is a good site. Sounds obvious, but a lot of people just start building their fire wherever they happen to drop the wood. That’s not too smart. What you’re looking for is a safe location that isn’t near anything that’s likely to burn. That includes dry grass, trees and other plants. It also includes your tent. Try to get a bit of shelter from the wind too. If it’s dry that’s always a nice touch.

Next collect your firewood. Don’t just grab a few sticks and start lighting them, because if you do that you’ll be too busy running round collecting more to enjoy your fire. Get a good pile before you start. Look for dry wood and try to collect a load of branches all about the same size; that’ll give you even coals to cook over later. Try to get hardwood, too. That’ll burn hotter and longer and it’s much better for cooking. Break it up so it’s all as near the same length as you can get it. As well as your main fuel collect smaller branches as well, some dry twigs to use as kindling, and dry grass, moss or leaves as tinder.

Now you have everything, clear your fireplace and a couple of feet round it. You can even dig a shallow pit to protect the fire if it’s windy. A ring of rocks to keep the fire in is pretty smart too, just don’t use rocks from a river – they can explode. Now get your tinder in the fireplace, stack up kindling in a little cone on top of it and set it alight. Once it’s all burning well pile up bits of small branch around it and let that catch too, and just keep adding bigger stuff until it’s happily burning your real fuel. Don’t pile wood on too fast though or you can snuff it out.

For cooking you want to let the flames die down so you have a nice deep bed of glowing coals. This is when you’ll wish you’d listened to us and made the effort to find hardwood – it really does work better. Anyway once you’ve got coals you’re good to go with the cooking. You can stand pots on the rocks round your fire, stick a camp oven right there in the middle with a few coals on the lid or grill stuff on a skewer. Foil comes in handy too- Wrap potatoes in it and chuck them in – they’ll bake in no time. You can make parcels of meat and veggies too, and cook them directly on the coals.

The fun doesn’t end when you’re done cooking A fire is the perfect thing for you and your mates to sit round with a few stubbies, swapping tall stories and chilling out. Just don’t throw the empties in – it always seems like fun at the time but clearing up next morning isn’t so good.

When you’re ready to move on make sure the fire’s completely out. Don’t take any chances here – fires are good at coming back to life when your back’s turned, and if you manage to burn down half the state you’re not going to be too popular. If you have to soak the ground to kill off any last hot spots.

Fires are great, but they can get out of control so we’re going to be big boys here and end with a couple of safety tips:

  • Don’t use flammable liquid to start your fire.
  • Keep the fire contained with a pit or stone fireplace.
  • Keep the ground near it clear to stop other stuff catching.
  • Use gloves or a pad when handling hot cooking gear.
  • Don’t leave the fire unattended, and keep kids away from it.



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