How to Build a Better Campfire

If you’re backpacking in the backcountry, out for a day hike, or camping with your family chances are that you’ll want to build a campfire. Not only do campfires provide warmth, light, and a place to cook your meals, but they provide the perfect opportunity to use your Rolla Roaster to toast something in the flames.


The Rolla Roaster is the ultimate rotating barbeque stick: it rolls at the touch of a finger and telescopes out to 42 inches so that you and your loved ones don’t have to be anywhere near the flames to perfectly cook your campfire treat. No more searching for appropriately long and pointy sticks on which to cook your dinner after a day in the woods. And your hand won’t even get warm while using this roasting stick due to its durable hardwood handle. After you use a Rolla Roaster you’ll never want to use anything else to toast your marshmallows or cook dinner on the campfire.

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Here is an easy, four-step guide on how to build the perfect campfire which will save you more time to kick back, put up your feet, and toast a treat on the fire with just the twist of your finger.

Step 1: Select a site


If there is an established fire ring, your job just got easier: skip to Step 2.

If there’s no established fire ring and you’re in the backcountry or in an area where it is important to leave no trace: make platform of gravel or sand about 3 to 5 inches high. Use material from an area that has already been disturbed. If you’re in an area where you can build an established fire ring then you can dig a hole that is a few inches deep and a few feet wide. If you are digging-averse you may use large stones to create a fire ring that will keep the burning logs contained.

Don’t build a fire upwind from your tent, and make sure the tent is out of flying-ember range. If it’s raining or windy, rig a tarp, build a lean-to, or build the fire under the shelter of a cliff or dense tree canopy. Remember to build the fire far enough away from low-hanging branches or anything that could catch on fire.


Step 2: Gather fuel

Collect materials that are already on the ground around your camp. You’ll need dead wood (it should be dry enough to snap), tinder (dry needles, thin twigs, paper, or wood shavings), kindling (finger-sized sticks), and limbs no thicker than your wrist (so they’ll burn completely).

You’ll light the tinder first to get a flame going. Kindling should be slightly larger than the tinder but with a high surface to volume ratio so that it will catch fire quickly. You’ll use the kindling to light the main fire source. The main fuel source should be a few inches in diameter and ideally should be aged and dry so that the flames burn cleanly. If you must build a fire with wood that is still wet just know that it will burn more slowly and be harder to light.

Good tinder is a flammable substance that you can mae into  a powder. Examples include:

  • Dry sticks and bark, dead dry plants and grasses, wax, lint, birch bark, charcloth, moss, wood shavings, paper, pine pitch, dry needles from coniferous trees, fire sticks, fire starters

Wood from evergreen trees burns quickly and at a high temperature therefore their wood is better for kindling. Wood from hardwood trees produces a sustained flame and burn at a high temperature.


Step 3: Build it to burn

Place tinder in a small pile and stack kindling around it. Leave gaps to allow air circulation and an opening to insert more tinder if needed.

In windy conditions consider building a wind break out of rocks and be very aware of anything down wind of your fire that could catch on fire.

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Here are some easy methods for organizing your campfire:

Tee-pee method

Organize the kindling in a small cone shape with the tinder inside it; leave gaps in the kindling to allow airflow. This is the most effective method.

Log cabin method

Stack the kindling in alternating directions to build a four-walled miniature structure with the tinder in the center.

Lazy-camper method

Throw your kindling in the middle in a loose pile and sprinkle your tinder on top.

Step 4: Ignite

Use waterproof matches or a lighter to start the bottom of the tinder pile, creating a chimney effect. Protect the flames from wind, but blow gently on them to build the heat and intensity of your fire. As the kindling bursts into flame, place larger pieces of wood on the fire to permit airflow. Add smaller pieces first and gradually add the larger pieces; patience in this period will make all your hard work up to this point worth it. Add additional kindling and logs in such a way that you can easily adjust them without burning yourself and so that they don’t smother the fire.

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In an emergency, put a small amount of white gas on the wood just before lighting to ignite hard-to-burn or wet wood.

Step 5: Use your Rolla Roaster!

Now that you have your fabulous campfire going you can use your Rolla Roaster to cook dinner, make S’mores, or toast anything else that you can stick on the end! (Upcoming Blog Post: The Best Campfire Food to Toast on a Rolla Roaster)

When cooking on a teepee fire it should be noted that the heat is highest at the top tip of the teepee. A campfire built in the log cabin formation is the best for cooking food because the heat is spread equally throughout the fire.

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If you’re cooking something that needs a lower temperature it is best to aim the tip of your Rolla Roaster a few inches about the burning coals at the base of the campfire, out of the flames.

If you would like to flambé whatever you have speared on the end of your barbeque fork then, by all means, hold it directly in the flames at the top of the fire.

Enjoy your outdoors adventure and whatever tasty item that you have toasted with your Rolla Roaster!

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Remember to only build a campfire if you’re in an area that allows them- always check campfire rules before building your fire. Extinguish a fire thoroughly with water. When no embers are smoldering, scatter the ashes and return the mound soil to its original place.


Additional References for Building a Campfire:

How to Build an Emergency Fire – Backpacker Magazine

How to Build the Perfect Campfire | Backpacker Magazine

7 Step Guide to Building a Campfire

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