Your kids will be saying this month’s THiNK OUTSiDE box is “straight fire” – something that is “really good, amazing, crazy (in a good way).” Building a fire is an important life skill but one that comes with a lot of responsibility to keep people safe and to prevent wildfires. Let’s start now with a few basics.
Always be sure that children are properly supervised by a responsible adult while practicing their fire building skills.
Prepare Your Fire Site
Before you start a fire, be sure to check local fire restrictions. Also ensure that conditions are not too dry or too windy. Choose a site with a clear opening above and at least 15 feet away from anything flammable including overhanging branches, dry grass and your tent!
Whenever possible, start by using existing fire pits and fire rings to reduce your impact on the surrounding area. Once you’ve selected your site, clear the area of leaves, grass and sticks down to the bare soil. Use a fire pit or build a fire ring with rocks to create a barrier.
Know Your Fire Building Materials
Once you’ve selected your site, collect the materials you need for your fire. You’ll need tinder, kindling and fuel for your fire. Look for dry wood as it is easier to burn than wet wood and releases less smoke.
- Tinder: Material that catches fire easily with a match or spark. Examples include dry grasses, dry pine needles, wood shavings and newspaper.
- Kindling: Smaller, dry sticks and twigs that are about an inch in diameter and about a foot long.
- Fuel: Larger pieces of wood that keep your fire going.
Never transport firewood long distances. This could potentially introduce invasive insect species and cause damage to local trees and forests. Instead, buy it where you burn it or collect it on site if permitted. Collecting firewood may be prohibited or require a permit so be sure to check local rules.
Build a Fire and Keep It Going
Choose your fire starting method – lighter, matches or a flint and steel fire starter. We think using your THiNK OUTSiDE fire starter is the most fun and the most impressive. Always have at least two fire starting options available in a survival situation, just in case.
Choose the type of fire you want to build – pyramid, log cabin, teepee, lean-to or star. Start with small sticks and twigs and gradually add larger sticks and bigger logs. Keep your fire as small as possible and never leave your fire unattended.
Put Your Fire Out
Before you leave your fire, make sure it is completely extinguished with no chance of rekindling. Start putting your fire out 20 minutes in advance. Gently and gradually sprinkle water over the fire site. Stir the embers with a stick or shovel and spread logs apart. Make sure there is no steam, heat or noise coming from your fire site. Continue to add water and stir the area until you can safely hover your hand above the fire site without feeling heat.
Leave No Trace Behind
Just like everything you do in the outdoors, your campfire should follow The Leave No Trace Seven Principles. Allow wood to burn completely to ash. Completely extinguish the fire using water. Replace any turf and soil you may have removed. If you built a fire ring, take it apart and scatter the rocks. Make your spot look like no one has been there.
Let’s Hear from You!
We love seeing our OUTSiDERS in action. Send us pictures of the different types of fires you’ve built at firstname.lastname@example.org and you may be featured on our page.
Let your kids get lost in nature; let them decide the direction. Eventually, they will find themselves!