Think back to some of the camping trips you’ve been on… what’s the one thing that comes up in just about every memory? If it’s the campfire, join the club! The people might change, the shelter might change and the food might change, but one thing that’s always there is the campfire. This is usually where you’ll find most people cooking, warming up, hanging out with family, friends and listening to great music. With a good fire being the heart of every camping trip, why not make sure yours is the best it can be? Here are some tips and tricks to step up your game.
Starting the fire
This part can really make or break the whole cozy fire experience- spending an hour trying to get a good flame going can definitely put a damper on things. These are our favourite ways to speed the process up a little so you can get straight to the fun part!
Dryer lint in a paper roll
This is by far the cheapest of fire starters, since these are two things that most would just throw out after actually using the product. It’s also very easy to make: a few weeks before you plan on heading out start saving up toilet paper and paper towel rolls. Every time you run a load of laundry and put it in the dryer, take the lint our afterwards and put it in one of your saved up roll. When you’re starting a fire, just light the cardboard and put it on top of the kindling. That’s it!
Vaseline covered cotton balls
This may sound a bit weird, but these can’t be beat- especially in adverse conditions. All you have to do is take 100% cotton balls and put a few into a ziploc bag with a blob of vaseline, knead them around enough to cover their exterior (a bit of dry fiber in the center is the key here), and you’re set. To light, just pull one apart a bit to expose the unsaturated center, and light while it’s in the kindling. The magic here is that one ball can burn for about 5 minutes, and they're hard to blow out, so a little wind won’t even phase it. Bonus: if these get a little wet from rain, they still work great.
This one feels a little more like a party trick than useful information, but it is true! Corn chips are highly flammable, so they make a great fire starter. Maybe not the the fanciest of fire starters, but this is one thing you could actually have on hand without planning ahead, unless you like carrying around vaseline cotton balls on the regular! Just toss a handful of Doritos in the center, light, and eat the rest.
Lumberjack Status Camp Fires
A regular fire will do the trick in most cases, but if you’re really trying to impress then these will do the trick.
If you have a chainsaw lying around, this method was made for you. A single large log can burn for 4 hours, so this hack is especially useful if you are limited in wood supply. Don’t worry if you aren’t much of a woodworking kind of family and forgot your chainsaw, you can also get the same effect by splitting would into quarters or sixths and tying it together at the bottom. Our favourite part is that this doubles as a cooking surface and can be used when the ground is wet. Intrigued? Check out this video to learn how to make it here.
The Dakota fire hole
This is a campfire trick that requires a little less skill, since it mostly involves digging. You’ll have to roll up your sleeves and be willing to get a little dirty, but this is the best method for windy locations. Since the fire is mostly underground and the oxygen is fed from an attached hole, gusts of air will hardly touch it and you won’t have to worry about it getting blown out! See how to make one here.
Nifty Campfire Hacks
These are some of our favourite campfire hacks, that will make the trip even more exciting and enjoyable.
Bug spray is just a task we could all do without- it takes extra time on top of the sunscreen routine, smells a bit weird and is often bad for the environment. Spare yourself this step by adding a bundle of sage to your campfire. The smoke will not only repel insects, but it will actually have a pleasant smell.
This is an extremely easy way to make camping food more exciting for kids. Before roasting a hot dog, slice the length of it in quarters on both ends, leaving about an inch in the middle, and when they cook, the ends will flare out making it look like a spider. See what it looks like here.
This a great treat for the kids on your next camping trip, and puts a bit of a healthier twist on classic s’mores. Take a banana, cut a slit down the length of it (leave the peel on), and stuff it with marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers. Wrap it in tin foil and put it over the fire for a few minutes and you’ll have a killer snack. Kids can get creative by making their own variations and putting some other treats in there.
Treat yourself, too! Dip your marshmallow in in Baileys after you roast it for an parent-style dipping sauce. If you’re feeling extra fancy, try making marshmallow jell-o shots before you leave for your trip and roast them over the fire! Learn how to make them here.