1. Get an ignition source. Pack a lighter and matches (waterproof if possible), but if you don’t have these you can see our other articles.
2. Gather Tinder. Tinder is a combination or things you can find that will catch the initial spark and transfer it to your kindling.
- Grasses or dead dry leaves/plants
- Wood Shavings
- Pine Pitch
- Dry needles from coniferous trees
- Fire Sticks
- Fire Starters
3. Gather kindling. Kindling is similar to Tinder, but just larger pieces with more mass for sustained burning. You use the Tinder once it’s caught to ignite the kindling and can add more to the fire to maintain it.
- Dry Twigs
- Wood (cut into smaller pieces if too large)
- Fuzz Sticks (sticks with shavings cut into them still attached to help catch fire)
4. Gather Logs or other fuel sources. Good fuel sources for consistent burning fire would be dry wood that is 1 inch to 5 inches in diameter, peat, coal, and twisted dry grasses. Try to always gather more than you’ll need, especially if you plan to sleep by the fire.
- Green or wet fuel can be used, but only once the fire is going because it burns slower than the dry fuel
- Softwoods or any tree that has leaves in the shape of needles burn very quickly and hot and contain flamable resins which burn hotter and help start a fire. Usually these will crackle and pop when burning, so you know you got one of these.
- Hardwoods have broad flat leaves and they don’t catch fire as easily as softwoods. Once they do they do burn for a longer period of time and give off more heat.
Building the Actual Firepit
1. Clear a circular area about 4 feet in diameter. Build a ring of rocks or dig a pit. Using stones will insulate the fire and you can construct a wall with logs or stone to reflect the heat in one direction if you plan to only be on one side of the fire, so you don’t waste any of the heat generated.
- If the ground is wet or covered with snow, build a platform out of green logs and cover them with a layer of dirt or stones.
2. Pile kindling loosely in your Firepit. Make sure it’s got enough room for circulation, but close enough to catch fire.
- Place your tinder on the pile of kindling and light the fire with your ignition source and gradually add more kindling.
- Blow air on the fire to build the intensity
3. Add Firewood and starting with the smallest sized pieces and working your way up to the large pieces.
- Build a tepee. There is a few methods for doing this, but the most effective is the Teepee. Arrange the tinder and a few sticks of kindling in the shape of a cone and light them at the center. The outside logs will fall inward to feed the fire. This makes the top of the tepee the most intense area of heat, so if a piece of wood has a thicker end make sure to place this end toward the top of the tepee. This also helps if you have wet or green wood because it will burn well, but it does burn through rather quickly.