Saturday, June 27, 2009

Don’t put a roof on your log cabin

One day I’ll do a full how-to post on building a campfire.

But for today I have only one tip. If I have learned anything about mistakes people make when building a fire it’s this: don’t choke the life out of your fire.

The process goes something like this:

  • The camper (or back yard fire builder or whatever) makes a lovely little log cabin style stack of kindling with a nice little bundle of dry moss and tinder in the middle. [So far so good]

  • The camper lights the tinder and a nice little fire begins to develop. [Doing great]

  • The camper gets excited by the flames and burning wood and loses all sense of what was working. The camper abandons the log cabin style that worked so well and starts doing crazy things like topping off the log cabin with a roof. [NOOOOO! Stop the insanity!]
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to say that the log cabin is the only effective way to build a fire. (Although it is a great way.) What I’m saying is that you need to leave lots of space between the logs and within the structure for your fire to flourish.

And I’m sorry to be sexist, but in my experience it’s men who have this problem. Men who can’t just sit and enjoy the fire but have to poke and prod constantly as if the fire could not exist without their constant intervention. Men – if you need to keep your hands busy grab a marshmallow on a stick. Or give your girlfriend a shoulder rub.

So there’s my campfire tip of the day for you. Never put a roof on your log cabin.

What’s your one biggest tip for building a successful campfire?

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