How To Build The Perfect Campfire

In my humble opinion, there is nothing that pairs better with a crisp fall night than a crackling bonfire. Whether it is in your backyard, on a beach or at a backwoods cabin there is something about huddling around a fire that really brings people together (maybe it’s the survival instinct, who knows). I find the best stories get told around the fire, hilarious stories, ones of deep pain and those of bittersweet nostalgia.

Another wonderful part about having a campfire is the food. Whether you are a s'mores-on-a-stick type person or a s'mores-in-tinfoil type person, well, you know what I mean.

The warmth, the food, the stories; they make campfires magical.

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If you have never had a campfire before, I highly recommend rounding up your friends for one before the weather gets too cold. It is an experience you are not likely to soon forget. For those of you who have had a bonfire before you will know that the most important steps of this unforgettable activity is having someone around who actually knows how to build a fire.

There is nothing more frustrating than setting out for a night of laughter and debauchery around the fire and then not being able to get it started. Maybe you get a little flame going but then it dies, maybe all you get is a billowing column of smoke, either way, it is a total bummer when you can’t get the fire started. I know this because up until a couple of months ago I was hopeless at fire building.

Luckily for me, my boyfriend was in Scouts as a kid and taught me his foolproof method of building a fire that has not failed us yet! Here is the step by step process of building the perfect bonfire that literally anyone can do!

Of course, take all of the appropriate safety precautions, and make sure that you have plenty on hand to put out a fire in case of an emergency (not to mention the fire department on speed dial!). 


  • A Hatchet (a small axe) or an Axe
  • A bunch of DRY logs or a bag of wood (you can buy these at campgrounds or national parks)
  • Some newspaper
  • A lighter or match


Step 1: To start any good fire, you will need kindling. Kindling is small pieces of logs and wood which is about 1 ½ inches in diameter. You can make kindling by chopping up some of your logs with an axe. You can also chop up some bigger pieces of wood to put on the fire later.

Step 2: Next step is to get building the base of your fire with the kindling. There are two different schools of thought on how to best start a base: the Teepee and the Chimney. My boyfriend believes that the Chimney is the only way to properly start a fire *eyeroll* so this is the one we will be learning.

To start the chimney, place 2 pieces of kindling parallel in the fire pit, then stack two more on top of them in the opposite parallel position so that the four pieces form a box shape like this. Continue stacking up your logs this way until you have about 12-16 pieces of wood stacked so they resemble a chimney.

Step 3: Now take a few pieces of your newspaper and crumple them up into balls and place them inside your chimney. Be careful not to pack the paper in too tight as it will suffocate the fire.

Step 4: Now it is time to light your fire. The important part here is to light the newspaper at the BOTTOM of the chimney, this way the fire will move up through the paper and catch the kindling on its way. It is also important to light the paper in multiple places so that the fire catches quicker.

Step 5: BE PATIENT. At this step in fire building, everyone always freaks out and starts doing things like rearranging the logs or trying to blow on the flames. It is very important that you resist the urge to do this as it will actually cause your fire to go out. The important thing to do at this stage is to let the logs really start to catch fire before doing anything else.

Step 6: Now that your logs are burning you can begin building up your fire. DO this by placing logs very carefully around your chimney in the teepee formation, essentially just surrounding the fire.

Once the flames start to catch on these bigger logs your fire is basically done! Now you can relax and enjoy some s'mores, just make sure to add a few logs every now and then to keep the fire roaring.

READ NEXT: 11 Super Tasty and Unique S'more Recipes

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