How to Start a Fire in Any Situation (Explained with Steps)

In our day to day lives, we often forget to take some time off and just breathe. With the ever-increasing work pressure and other responsibilities, it seems like we have forgotten how to enjoy ourselves in the company of nature. Camping comes to our rescue in such cases. The thought of spending some time in the lap of nature with friends and family is the perfect way to rejuvenate. 

But more often than not, the major challenge that appears while camping is the whole process of building a fire. 

And the importance of a fire when it comes to camping is immense. Be it just for the heat, or for barbeque and smores making a fire during a camping trip is essential. If you are not well aware of how to start a fire in the middle of a camping site with mostly natural elements, you have landed up in the right place on the internet. 

Read on to know every big and small thing about the process. 

Preventive Measures

Before anything else, the most crucial aspect when it comes to anything about fire is safety. We cannot lay more emphasis on the fact that preventive measures need to be taken and all the rules should be thoroughly followed when it comes to building a fire. 

Accidents don’t wait for anyone and can occur whenever and however. The slightest negligence can lead to massive outcomes such that you won’t be able to bring it under control how much ever you try. 

So a few things to keep in mind before starting to build a fire…

Protective Gear

The set of protective gear includes proper Glasses, gloves and shoes. When you start a fire with firewood and dried leaves, it is possible that flakes can emerge right out of it and land anywhere near. To prevent any mishappening you should not leave your hands, eyes or feet exposed to these flakes of fire. 

Tie up your hair

If you have long hair, you have to tie up your hair, possibly in a bun. If you leave your hair down you will out yourself at high risk because human hair strands are immensely inflammable. 

Find an open area

When you are building a fire on a camping trip, possibilities are that you have to live in a tent or maybe just the trailer van in which you are travelling. Whatever the case be, you should always choose an area that is cleared of vegetation and is away from your tents. This is to make sure that even if something goes wrong, it will not affect the shelter that you have.

Manage inflammable articles properly

While building a fire, you have to keep any item that is inflammable further away from the area. This might include fuel, alcohol, fireworks and many more. Keep them at a safe distance at all times of the process.

A bucket of sand or water

It is important to be prepared for the most uncertain thing. In case the fire gets out of hand you will need a substance to control it before it is too late. Depending on your location of camping keep a substance to fight the fire with. If you have laid a camp in the forest or a hill which has access to water, get a bucket of water and place it near the sight. If it is a beach location, fetch some sand from the beach and keep it handy.

First-aid kit

Keeping a kit which has essential instruments such as ointment, burn medication, bandage, gauze and cotton is also very important. This will ensure that in case of a mishappening, there will be immediate help without any sort of delay.


Building a fire is not a difficult task but one must always be ready. Before starting the process make sure you have a strategy. This might include deciding where the fire will be made, what materials will be used, tasks being assigned to people and ensuring that it is carried on safely. You must also have solutions to any problem that might arise.

Wires, Cables and long trees

Make sure you look out for these. When deciding on the place check the area properly to avoid any problem that might arise because of obstructions as such. 

Things you will need to Start a Fire

The first step at building a fire is to procure all the items that will be necessary for the process. One does not need a lot of things to create fire but the shortlist of things is rather an important one. ‘Make sure to get through it and have all the materials with you before starting the process. 

  1. Things to light the fire: Gather dried leaves, small sticks and firewood from the surrounding. This will help with keeping the fire burning for a longer time.
  1. A lighter or a box of matches: You will need one of these to light the first fire.
  1. Logs: Logs of firewood is the main ingredient onto which the fire will be set up. Make sure you have enough depending on the size of the fire and the duration.
  1. Water or Sand: To extinguish the fire or in case of any emergency.
  1. Big and Medium-sized rocks: This will be used to contain the circle the fire is being built on.
  1. An axe: You will need this to cut big logs of wood to suitable sizes.
  1. A shovel: You need to dig up the earth to create the pit for the fire.
  1. Protective pieces of equipment: You need to keep all the gear near you and wear them at the time of the procedure.

The Main Procedure to Setup a Fire

1st Step: Dugout a hole on the ground. Use the shovel and build a pit on the ground. This should be circular and wide to accommodate the logs of firewood. If you have a fire pit, you are already ahead in the game.

2nd Step: Place medium-sized rocks in a circle around the pit. This will ensure the fire to be contained inside that particular space. 

3rd Step: In the third step you have to make a layer out of all the dried sticks that you have collected from the surroundings. This extra layer will prevent the firewoods to be burnt into ashes and cause a heap. This base will also catch fire easily because of its dry nature. 

4th Step: Add a layer of the dried leaves that have been accumulated. Another such layer will add to the strength of the fire.

5th Step: This step is the crucial one. You need to pick up a dried leaf or a twig and set fire to it with a matchstick or a lighter. Place it into the pit and the first layer will catch fire almost immediately.

6th Step: Now it is time for the logs to be placed. Cut the pieces of firewood and place them surrounding the circle of the fire. Make sure that the arrangement lets oxygen to enter the inner circle. If it is restricted, the logs will not catch fire and you might have to redo this process. It will take some time for the logs of wood to catch fire. Observe properly for sparks and other such things. 

7th Step: Once your fire is lit, you have to give some time to it for observation before letting your children and pets in.

Things to keep in Mind

Building a fire is a dangerous procedure and an unpredictable one. There are certain things that you should additionally keep in mind apart from all the safety procedures. They are listed below…

  1. If you have children and pets with you, it is the safest thing to keep them away during the building of the fire. It is the best for them to stay inside the tent or any other form of accommodation and share the space only after the fire is lit. 
  1. You can burn a lot of things including dried leaves and paper. But make sure not to use any material that is made of plastic. Fire and plastic in an open fire can prove to be extremely dangerous for everyone near it. Buring of plastic also release harmful toxins into the air and can make old or immuno-compromised people ill. 
  1. Make sure not to leave the fire unattended at any time. The fire must be under the supervision of at least one adult at all times. This will ensure that nothing unwarranted takes place. 
  1. Although you might plan a fireworks session on your camping trip, make sure no firework lands up in the fire. Such an incident can have fatal repercussions. If you do plan on bursting firecrackers make sure to do it away from the fire.


Now that you have all the information that you will be needing to build a fire, we hope you find it to be an easy task to do. Remember, building a fire or being near the fire is not funny and quite, on the contrary, it is dangerous. You should always be careful around it and keep a check on things from time to time.

Article by:

Eric Birch

Eric Birch is a survival specialist trained in the U.S. military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) program. When he’s not ferociously learning new survival tactics, he enjoys the great outdoors, and/or cheering on one of his favorite sports teams.

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