How many ways can you build a campfire? About as many ways as you can cook using them. Here are five traditional ways to build a fire and perhaps a few that may be new to you. There are generally two parts to fire craft: the creation of a flame and sustaining the flame as a fire.
The common thread leading to sustained combustion is the progression of thin-to-thick flammable material. The three basic categories of material are referred to as tinder, kindling, and fuel. Tinder might be dry grass, leaves, bark or twigs, or kindling might be pencil sizes branches. Fuel might be arm-sized branches or larger logs. Because heat rises along with the flames these materials generally are stacked with the tinder at the base followed by kindling and the fuel placed beside or on top of the fire once it is established. The materials should be close enough to transfer heat but loose enough to allow air flow.
Safety measures should be taken when building a fire. Always have an open container of water close by. In addition, there are various ways to contain and control the fire such as by using a fire pit, trench, or Dakota hole. In environments where there is snow or soggy ground, a fire may need to be insulated from beneath using green logs as a base. When a fire is needed on a deck or floor, a thick earthen pad can be used.
The campfire constructions (or fire-lays) that follow are intended to be constructed using materials that you might naturally find in the woods. Although the larger fuel logs shown in the illustrations have been cut or split, this is not necessary for a successful campfire.