In days gone by, cooking over an
open fire could be taken for
are a few important considerations:
cooking requires a clean-burning,
hot fire. This is only achieved with
dry, seasoned wood. Stripping trees
of green wood is fruitless - your
fire will be smoky, will burn poorly
and create unnecessary pollution. If
dry wood is not available, it will
need to be packed in. Many public
campgrounds supply firewood - call
ahead to see what's available.
close attention to the ground before
preparing any fire. In circumstances
where building your fire on a rock
is not possible, one should ensure
that the base of the fire is on bare
mineral soil. A fire that is
burning all evening has lots of time
to burn through the organic layer of
the soil and will not be put out
with a simple bucket of water. Use
previously established fire pits if
available, to avoid scarring the
area with more fire pits.
medium to strong wind is hazardous.
The danger of sparks getting away
can ignite a forest fire. Also, the
coals will reduce more quickly and
provide much less cooking time. If
substantial wind shelter is
unavailable, any outdoor fire is out
of the question.
|How to Build a Campfire
First, here is an informative infographic
on how to build a campfire that you can print for
how to build a
The method below can used either while buggin
out, or at your bug out location. The use of
rocks will help you contain the fire and direct
The object is to have all the wood turn into
coals at the same time. This gives an even fire
with no flames reaching up to burn your food or
blacken your cookware (which we will discuss
below). It also yields the
longest cooking time from the coals.
Prepare the site
Select a fire site at least 8' from bushes or
any combustibles. Be sure no tree branches
overhang the site.
- Make a U-shaped perimeter using large rocks or
green logs. If using logs, they'll need to be
wet down from time to time. If breezy, have back
of firepit face the wind.
- Put a large flat rock at the rear of the
firepit to act as a chimney. The "chimney rock"
will help direct the smoke up and away.
Lay the kindling
- Fill the fire area
with crumpled paper or tinder.
- Lay kindling over paper in layers, alternating
direction with each layer. Use thin splits of
wood or small dead branches. Do not put kindling
down "teepee style". The whole fire area should
be covered with the kindling stack.
- Set a bucket of water near the fire area.
Light the paper to start your fire.
Build the fire,
grade the coals
- When kindling is
ablaze, add firewood. The wood should be all the
same size, as much as possible. Use hardwood or
hardwood branches if available. Distribute wood
evenly over fire bed.
- As soon as the last flames die down leaving
mostly white coals, use a stick to push the
coals into a higher level at the back end and
lower level at the front. This will give you the
equivalent of 'Hi', 'Med' and 'Lo' cook
settings. Or, level the coals to your
To cook, set the grill on rocks or wetted green
logs. Put food directly on grill or in cookware
and prepare your meal. If cooking directly on
the grill, a small spray bottle or squirt gun is
handy for shooting down any rogue flames,
usually caused by food drippings.
As the fire diminishes, bank the coals to get
the most heat from them.
After cooking, add wood for your evening
campfire. Before retiring, extinguish thoroughly
and soak with water. Turn rocks in on fire bed.
It will be easy to reassemble the next. It will
be easier to reassemble the next day if required.
cooking methods, see:
campfire cooking with a grill
When it comes to cookware, cast iron is
king, especially when cooking off the grid over a
campfire. Cast iron will last a lifetime whereas
your regular cookware is not even safe for campfire
cooking. There's something comforting about cooking in
an old cast iron skillet.
This is one of the
most often overlooked preps in my opinion. Most
folks don't use cast iron and are not willing to make
the investment necessary to hold it for after SHTF. but
the good news is that cast iron is becoming more
affordable and can be snatched up at yard sales and
restored. There will be a future article on restoring,
seasoning and maintaining cast iron and a link will be
For now, may I suggest this inexpensive five piece cast
iron set following to get you started:
Happy Prepping my Happy Campers!