Saturday, March 18, 2017

Five Homemade Fire Starters

Campfires aren’t always a necessity, but what’s a weekend family outing without one?  Starting the campfire can be a challenge sometimes, but if you have a little knowledge, some good tinder and kindling, a good fire starter, and some patience you should have marshmallows roasting in no time.  Getting the fire started can be tricky sometimes.  Assuming you have assembled your tinder, kindling and fuel properly, you will need a good lighting device to get the tinder going.  Ah, but what do we use as a starter to help get the tinder going?  Below are some easy and effective fire starters to aid in getting your fire going in no time.

Coated Cotton Balls – Take some cotton balls from the bathroom and coat them in petroleum jelly.  Place them in a plastic zippered bag, an old coffee can, or some other small container that is easy to pack with your camping gear.  They light easily and get a fire burning quickly.

Pine Cones – If you have pine trees, pick up any pine cones laying around.  Take the pine cones and dip them in hot wax.  Once the wax is cooled, place your new fire starters in a bag or can to use on your next camping trip.

Bacon Grease – Here’s a good one that I don’t see people utilizing too much anymore.  Our grandparents used to save bacon grease, and other frying grease in jars and reuse for future cooking and many other things.  One use for bacon grease is fire starting.  Keep some in a small plastic container that fits with your camping gear.  It lights fairly easy, burns hot, and gives off a great smell.

Coated Wood Chips – Get some small wood chips and place them in small plastic cups or other containers.  Simply pour some melted wax over the chips and let them harden.  You now have a great fire starter.

Dryer Lint – Save the lint from the clothes dryer after each load of laundry and keep them in an old egg carton.  Pour hot wax over the lint and you will have a dozen fuzzy fire starters that light easily and burn for several minutes.

These are just a few easy, no-cost ways you can help get your campfire going and begin enjoying time around the blaze.  If you have any other creative fire starters you’ve used, please comment below and let me know how they’ve worked.  Happy Camping!!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Four Great Cooking Campfires

There’s something about a campfire that inspires, intrigues, and brings people together.  When man harnessed the ability to make and control fire, he opened many possibilities we take for granted today.  Staying warm, drying wet clothes, shaping metals, making pottery, scaring away wild animals, boiling water, creating communication signals, and cooking meals are some of the most important tasks made available through fire.  For the campsite, there are four basic campfires you can construct with relative ease in order to stay warm and cook some great meals during your outdoor adventure.

A Tepee Fire is the one I think most people envision when discussing a campfire.  Just like it sounds, it’s shaped like a teepee with standing lengths of wood.  This type of fire provides a good light source for the campsite and a high heat source for boiling a pot of water or roasting meat on a skewer.  To build the teepee fire, drive a stick securely into the ground and then place a circle of sticks leaning against the secured stick.  Leave a window on the windward side to allow air flow and keep feeding the fire as it continues to burn.

The Pinwheel Fire, or Star Fire, is shaped like the spokes on a wheel without the outside rim.  The fire burns at the center, or hub of the wheel and produces lower light and heat.  This fire is used when a large fire is not necessary, you are trying to conserve fuel, or you need a more concentrated heat source for frying.  Use 1 to 2 inch diameter sticks for fuel and once the fire is going, continually push the sticks inward as they are consumed.  This fire requires more attention, but also provides more temperature control for frying that trout you just caught.

A Log Cabin Fire is another fire for excellent light and heat.  Constructed like a log cabin with cross-hatched logs, this arrangement allows for plenty of interior space for tinder, kindling, and small fuel, leaves plenty of open space for excellent air flow, and exposes lots of wood surface for an even blaze.  This results in a quick supply of hot coals for cooking some great meals in your cast iron dutch ovens.  Also, if needed for survival, it makes for a great signal fire.

The Keyhole Fire is the multitasker’s delight.  The setup is made for building both a teepee fire and a log cabin fire at the same time.  Build a rock fire pit in the shape of a keyhole.  Build the teepee fire in the larger round part of the keyhole for heat, light, and any cooking you want to do with skewers or in pots.  Build a log cabin fire across the rocks in the narrow part for the quick supply of coals needed for cooking.  Once the log cabin fire has diminished, the teepee fire can continue to provide coals for any further cooking needs.

These are some of the typical campfires most people use in the outdoors, and each has its own benefits depending on your cooking and camping needs.  Always be sure to have good fire starting tools, ample supply of tinder, kindling, and fuel, and always practice safety and no trace left behind.  I’d love to hear about your favorite campfire and why you like it.  I’d also like to hear if anyone has experimented with any other ingenious forms of building a campfire.  Happy camping!