Camp fires or barbecues are an essential part of the summer season and camping trips. They are messermisingly beautiful, just sat watching the flames and sparks go up into the night. Not only wonderful to look at they are also useful. Cooking on an open fire has its own challenges and rewards but it can be done. What’s more enjoyable than toasting marshmallows on a fire in the summer evening dusk with family or friends? Furthermore, creating warmth, light and a deterrent for insects.
Here at Glasfryn Escapes we allow fires in a controlled way, in our homemade up-cycled fire pits.
Here are some tips and tricks for starting a camp fire, keeping it going and cooking on a barbecue or a camp fire.
Safety – First of all make sure you are allowed a fire at the location you would like to have one. Whether that be a campsite or the beach etc. At Glasfryn Escapes we do allow campfires but only within the designated troughs. The surrounding area should be free from flammable items like tents, clothing and camping stove fuel. Also consider where the nearest water or extinguishing item might be. Finally, don’t leave your fire unattended.
Wind direction – This is important as you don’t want to have a smoked out tent and you’ll want the ability to sit round it, of course.
Fuel – You’ve guessed it…Important! Wherever possible dry wood will burn better. Creating more heat and less smoke. Tinder and kindling need to be small and as dry as possible. There are many kinds of tinder to use including firelighters, wood shavings, dried grass or cotton wool covered in vaseline. Kindling should be roughly one too two fingers in diameter, small enough to catch easily. Then building up to your main fuel source being around fist size in diameter.
Starting – To start all campfires the method is to build/construct your fire, light it and maintain it. The idea is for the fire to catch onto increasingly larger firewood so that it is easily kept alight. Also remember to leave enough space between the firewood so that air can circulate your fire.
Use – What you want to do with your fire may depend how you construct it. The main uses are going to be barbecue style cooking (on a grill), cooking directly on the coals with a pot or a simply a fire for fun, warmth and light.
Extinguishing – You don’t want to leave a fire unattended when you leave or go to bed. So think about putting it out early as it will take about 20 minutes to put out a fire completely. This is really important if you have a fire at the beach. To extinguish a fire gently sprinkle it with water. Once doused, stir the embers to increase cooling. When it is finally cool either remove the ashes or leave them in the fire-pit until the morning.
Camp Fire Construction
Tipi – The simplest method of construction of a camp fire. Starting with tinder and the kindling stacked into a small tipi shape slowing building out into larger firewood. Make sure there is a ‘door’ to help lighting the tinder in the middle. This is a fast burning method creating lots of heat and light.
Log Cabin/Platform – Is a construction where the base starts with larger firewood, as you gain height reduce the size. In the log cabin method start the fire from the bottom. However when using a platform method, start from the top with enough starter so that the embers will light the next layer down. You should also place the firewood slightly closer together.
These methods of construction are great for cooking and are low maintenance.
Start – The star starts with a small tipi. When it’s going add 3 to 5 pieces of firewood into the emblems in a star shape. This is a slow burning fire, great for an all-nighter or at the beach.
Lean to – Again using the basics of creating a tipi camp fire, but with the addition of leaning the firewood onto a larger ‘back piece’. Make sure there is a ‘door’ to help lighting the tinder in the middle. This method works well if you need to shelter your fire from wind or rain.