Step 1: Safety
Campfire safety should always be the first thing you consider when you build, light and leave your campfire. Make sure you always follow these campfire safety tips to keep yourself, others and the environment around you safe:
Step 2: The Fire Pit
Many campsites will have a designated fire pit area but if you are wild camping find a spot that is free from grass, plants, trees etc. The campfire should be built on bare ground such as gravel, sand or dirt and not grass. If there isn’t an area free of grass then you should dig away the surface to create a bare surface upon which to build – try and keep the top layer of turf you dig and lift up so that you can replace this after you fire is over, this way you can try to ensure that you leave no trace and any damage will more quickly recover. Gather medium sized rocks to create a circular boundary for your fire.
Step 3: Gather Your Materials
Every good campfire will start with good tinder. This can be dry leaves, dry bark or dry grass. If the weather means that most of the natural tinder is wet, then you can use paper which works just as well. Next, you need to source your kindling. Kindling is often small twigs and branches – again they need to be dry. Finally, you need wood. This doesn’t need to be large logs that you use on a fireplace at home. Sticks that are as thick as your wrist are perfect – again they should be dry, otherwise they will be difficult to light and will produce a lot of smoke! Dead twigs and branches that are not in contact with the ground will nearly always be dryer.
Step 4: The Build
There are different campfire build layouts, but we are going to explain the teepee layout, which as you’d expect is shaped like a tepee. Start by piling your tinder in the centre of your pit and place the kindling around it to form the tepee shape with the smallest twigs next to the tinder. On the side that the wind is blowing against leave an opening to give your fire the oxygen it needs and to enable you to light the tinder. Keep building it up with large pieces of kindling and then around the kindling start adding your smaller pieces of wood to create a larger tepee structure. Once your structure is built set fire to your tinder and as the fire burns the structure will eventually fall at which point you can carefully add more wood.
Step 5: Enjoy The Fire
Enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling you get from sitting around your campfire – and the feeling of accomplishment. Don’t dive straight in with the marshmallows!
Step 6: Toast Your Mallows
Once your campfire has been burning for awhile and there are no longer large flames you can begin to toast your marshmallows. We all have our own favourite techniques for how to toast the perfect marshmallow, mine being to place the marshmallow in a gap next to some hot embers and slowly turn it around until it is golden and crispy and then I eat that layer off and put it back in to toast the next layer! If you want to go for the American classic you could always try to make s’mores – a great easy way to do this is to get 2 digestive biscuits smother them with chocolate spread and sandwich your toasted marshmallow in the middle…Yum.
Another great sweet treat to cook on the campfire is a banana boat– leave the skin on the banana put a slit down the middle of a banana long ways (on the concaved side) and stuff with squares of chocolate, chopped strawberries and sprinkle with nut. Wrap the banana in tin-foil and sit it on the fire. It will only take a couple of minutes to be warm and gooey. Use tongs (or a couple of sticks if you don’t have tongs!) to take it off the campfire and place it on a plate, the foil should cool quickly but be aware of hot steam as you open the tinfoil. Grab a spoon and get stuck in!
If you want to have a main meal cooked on your campfire, a great quick and healthy meal to make is salmon. Make a marinate – this can be as simple as placing a knob of butter, slice of lemon and chopped dill and garlic on top of your salmon. Or try our favourite of honey, soy sauce, chopped garlic and chopped chilli. Put each salmon fillet onto a separate piece of tinfoil that is big enough to rap the fillet and drizzle with the marinate. Place the tinfoil onto the hot embers of the fire and leave for 6-8mins or until the fish is cooked through. Use tongs to remove from the fire and be careful of the hot steam when opening the tinfoil. This goes perfectly with buttery boiled potatoes and a fresh salad!