This past weekend was another successful camping trip with my Boy Scout troop. Couldn’t have asked for a better weekend of weather. I digress from my main point here, the campfire.
One of the best things about camping is tending to the fire. It provides a source of heat and light. It is normally the primary way to cook food…unless your a wussy and bring propane stoves. ( The one caveat I have to this is when preparing large amounts of food for large groups. It just more efficient.)
If you are a Scout like myself getting a campfire started is one of the best tests of ones scouting skills. There are a few ways in which to challenge ones self in getting a fire started, flint and steel, 9 volt and steel wool, but probably the classic is the two match start. Essentially you only get two matches to start it after that your SOL. Personally, if I have to use the second match I consider it a personal failure.
In order to achieve perfect ignition you need an appropriate amount of tinder. Really small twigs, pine cones, dried bark (preferably birch), pine needles (Not a ton. The smoke produced while hamper your ability to continue.). If you bring a fire starting kit that’s great. (This kit will normally include one or more of the following; dryer lint, saw dust, pine cones, broken apart twine, cardboard, etc…) It is also important to remember that the tinder bundle/pile needs to be arranged in a manner that will allow an adequate amount of air to flow through it. Much like us a fire needs to breath oxygen.
Once the tinder catches fire it is a bit of race against time to keep the fire going. You essentially have two methods of building up the fire in order to keep it going. Log cabin and tepee. There are other types but that requires some time to set up and build depending on the situation. I prefer the tepee build because it allows one to pile on in a way and also to shield against winds that may be causing issues.
At this stage in creating a fire you are adding kindling. Somewhat larger twigs and sticks, splintered off pieces from logs, I think everyone gets the picture. Once this wood catches fire you can relax a bit, but it doesn’t mean slack off.
At this final phase of the fire building you should be adding fuel wood. Large tree branches, split logs, broken up floor boards, whatever you have to keep the fire going. This is where you start creating the coals you will need for cooking later in the day.
However, in my case the fire was just for heat and relaxing by. Once the fire was going it was just a matter of feeding it the occasional log or two to keep it at the optimal temperature.