5/13/07
How to Build a Proper Campfire

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nyone can build a campfire and roast marshmallows. But not everyone can build a respectable fire in the midst of a rainstorm nor can they build one with "artistic flair".
I am going to show you how to accomplish this. My methods are guaranteed to work in any downpour provided that wind velocities, accompanying the rain, do not exceed about 20 mph.


    You will need tools.

  • A dry match
  • A small knife
  • And, if you must chop wood, an ax
    (or better yet a campers saw)

The Best Wood is Dead Wood

It's dry and . . . (newsflash) . . . if it's raining it's dry on the inside.

You're going to cut some shavings from small sticks that are lying around. Some dry paper will help if you have it.
Stick these in your pocket, near to your skin for warmth. Remember, it's raining and you must have dry tinder to light with your dry match. Try putting it in your shirt. You need maybe two handfuls of 'stuff'.
You can now proceed with the rest of the agenda while the 'stuff' is drying out.


Methodology

  • Find about a dozen logs18" in length and 2",3",4" diameter (anything close is good enough)
  • Arrange them in this manner: Build a square with each log on top and on the bottom of its neighbor so that gaps for air flow are formed. (extremely important here)
    Do not, under any circumstances, stand the wood up like army rifles in a civil war camp.
  • Build up a pyramid by laying down successive layers just like the former.
    Leave a hole in the top.
  • Get a bunch of twigs and sticks ~18" long of varying diameters (1/4",1/2", 1",etc.) and shove these down the hole in the manner of the formerly banned civil war rifles. (Yeah . . . they're wet. It's OK.)
  • Now, hunch over your creation to block the rain and insert the now dry 'stuff' from your shirt inside of the tent formed by the civil war rifles.
    [You should be able to get your hand past the big logs where you left big gaps for air.]
  • Finally, light those dry shavings with the match. If all goes according to Hoyle the shavings will dry and ignite the smaller wet twigs, the twigs ignite the sticks which in turn will ignite the . . . etc.
  • This chain reaction shoud be unstopable in even a heavy rain.
    You may have to protect the fire from rain at the beginning. The big logs shield the inside from most of it.

I've done this and have been surprised at the speed of growth and resistance to water of such a composition. My brother and I had once to throw buckets of water on our fire to slow it down to conserve a scarce supply of wood.

You do not have to tend this fire.
It will not normally fall over like the army rifles style. Rather, it falls in on itself and is thus self-maintaining.