This one is actually kind of ironic because between the ages of four and six I was absolutely paranoid about the possibility of my house burning down, to the extent that I packed a bag every night of my most valuable possessions (stuffed animals and dress-up clothes) so I could hop out the window the moment the fire started. I also slept on my left side for three years straight, facing the door so I could keep an eye out for smoke and flames in the hallway. I am not exaggerating. This was also a really, really dumb paranoia because our house was made of adobe which cannot burn.
I’ve seen the light and felt the warmth and can now honestly say that fire – and especially a fire outside – is is one of my absolute favorite things. If there is anything better than waking up to the smell of pine, wet tent and woodsmoke, I do not know what that is. And do you ever feel more rugged and awesome than when you’re gathering wood for a fire during a backpacking trip? I know I don’t. Maybe people who get to do this more often than me are jaded and bored by it, but I have a hard time imagining this task will ever lose its appeal to me. (You guys, there’s a firewood poem)
Plus, most camp/backpacking fires also include a s’mores fest, which means you need to find a roasting stick. Which means you need to whittle it. Which means: WHITTLING. God. That’s like, the sole reason I own multi-tools. I also approve of: roasting sausages, making toast, and just holding a stick in the flames until it too catches fire.
allie bishop pasquier/Flickr
And even if, for some reason you’re one of those tools who doesn’t like s’mores, you have to like holding a marshmallow over an open flame. Roast them for other people or hell, just burn and melt them until there’s nothing left, then put another one on and keep playing. Marshmallows aren’t that expensive.
Do you know how to make a good fire? Even if you don’t, I’m telling you anyways, because it really annoys me when people think they can just light some wood and have a bonfire. Asshats.
How to Make a Fire and Not Suck
1. Get your tinder/kindling. Dry grass, pinecones, small twigs, little chunks of bark. Make a pile on a surface that is not flammable. Sand, rocks, hardpack dirt. You should know this.
2. Get some medium sized firewood and some big ass logs that will burn for a long, long time. You want to follow the three D’s: Dead, Dry and Down. Anything that’s still green, wet or standing isn’t ideal. Put them near your kindling.
3. Light your tinder/kindling pile. Gently blow on it to get the flame started.
4. Once it’s burning steadily, gently make a teepee of sorts around it with the medium firewood. Allow gaps so oxygen can still reach the fire inside.
5. Stare at the fire for a while. You made that.
6. Once the medium firewood has caught, gently add one of your big logs. Lay it on top (but don’t effing smother it) or prop a couple together over the existing fire.
Featured photo courtesy of hobophoebe/Flickr