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Camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. No matter if you are camping for the weekend with your family or staying in the woods for a week, knowing how to prepare a campfire is essential. Cooking over a fire will come in handy for everything from preparing a fresh breakfast to a daylong stew. Preparing your firepit for campfire cooking should not take long once you understand the basics.

Types of Campfires For Cooking

Campfire cooking is a bit different than cooking over a stove. When preparing a campfire for cooking, you will need to consider the type of foods you intend to cook, as well as their estimated cook times. The most common types of cooking fires include short-burning campfires, long-standing fires, and extremely prolonged fires. You will need to determine which fire is right for you based on your camping meal plan.

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Short-Burning Campfires Can Work for Quick Cooking Meals

A short-burning campfire is ideal for quick snacks and heating up food if you are in a pinch. You can create a short-burning campfire using twigs to build a short teepee on dry ground. Ensure that there is space between each twig you place to allow for proper airflow. Short-burning teepee fires are the perfect option if you are short on time or need to start a fire quickly.

Long-Standing Fires for Over Fire Cooking

If you plan to cook standard meat such as chicken, burgers, steak, or even kebabs, you can expect the best results with a long-standing fire. Building a long-standing bonfire will include traditional tinder such as surrounding leaves, brush, grass, and even available newspaper, in addition to the following:

  • Kindling to maintain the fire as long as possible (or at least for the duration of the cooking time your meal requires)
  • Proper firewood, which will differ in size depending on how large of a fire you intend to create
  • A Walden Backyards stoker poker to steer clear of rising flames, especially for larger campfires and bonfires

Prolonged Campfires

If you are planning to make a homemade soup from scratch or if you enjoy a potato boil over the campfire after a long day, you may want to build a prolonged campfire. Prolonged campfires will remain warm and provide a cooking source for hours on end, especially when properly maintained. Some tips for creating extremely prolonged campfires include:

  • Choose a location that provides adequate space for the fire you are building. A prolonged bonfire will require more space than a small or long-standing bonfire.
  • Select a location that allows for a ramp surrounding the location of the center of the firepit itself. Building a ramp using twigs, sticks, and bushes that is at least 30 degrees can help keep the fire smoldering and burning at a slower rate than without a surrounding ramp. 
  • Add bulky and oversized logs to the bottom of the ramp you have built.
  • Burn the logs from the bottom log upward after successfully building your pyramid fire. 

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Preparing Your Campfire for Cooking

Once you know which type of campfire is right for your cooking needs, you can begin to prepare your chosen site using the following tips:

  • Choose the right type of wood for your long-standing fire. Campfire wood should be dried out and properly seasoned (if possible). 
  • Choose a flat surface to build your campfire on, such as ground with sand or dry dirt. Do not build a fire with a larger flame below trees or branches that may catch fire.
  • Find and collect logs and twigs to use for your preferred type of campfire. Attempt to locate hardwood that has already been dried and seasoned. It is possible to burn fresh or green sticks and twigs, but this type of wood may not burn as long or thoroughly and may release an unpleasant odor.
  • Firewood can be arranged in the form of a tent, flattened out, or piled up, depending on the type of fire you plan to build.
  • Arrange your coals and collect any tinder you intend to use. Ensure that the coals are not too stuck together and that they have breathing room to allow the oxygen to flow. 
  • Light your fire and tend to it as necessary until you finish cooking. 

Knowing how to prepare a campfire for cooking is one of the best skills to have under your belt whenever you spend time in nature. With the ability to build any type of campfire for any type of food, you can bring any outdoor experience you can dream of to life.

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