They keep you warm when the temperatures dip low, are great for outdoor cooking, and create a relaxing ambiance at the end of a long day. Campfires are usually pretty easy to build, but keeping them going can be a task. Throwing more wood on it as it dies down puts you at risk of burns. And sometimes, adding more wood to it just smothers it and puts it out. To avoid a possible injury or headache, learn how to build a self-feeding campfire that'll burn throughout the evening with these tips.
Upside Down Fire
This style of campfire pretty much takes everything you’ve learned about building one and flips it upside down. This method allows you to estimate how much wood you’ll need to burn to keep it going for as long as you want. You'll build the fire backward and let it burn down. Here’s what you need:
Small fuel wood
Medium fuel wood
Large fuel wood
Step 1: Prepare the area for your fire before you set it up. Make sure that any brush, leaves, or other things that aren’t part of it are cleared away and you have a flat spot to work with.
Step 2: Lay a layer of your large fuel wood out on the area, placing them side by side. Then stack another layer on top of this one, but turn it 90°, kind of like how you set up the game of Jenga.
Step 3: Continue stacking, reducing size as you go up until you have your small fuel wood on top.
Step 4: Using the tinder and kindling, build the usual teepee on top.
Step 5: Light the teepee and stick by it, blowing on the flames until it’s burning well. You may have to add more here if it doesn’t stay lit long enough to light the small fuel wood.
This fire will now burn slowly down to the last set of large logs on the bottom without you having to add anything to it. It’s great for a long-lasting fire and also for damp wood. Use dry wood on the top and then as it burns down the heat will help to dry out the damp logs as it goes.
All Night Fire
This fire will last longer than the upside down fire, but it takes a little more effort to put together. This one is the ultimate self-feeding fire because you can actually add to it without burning yourself if it happens to burn faster than you expected. Give it a try.
Four long branches for support beams
Four Y-shaped branches to help hold up the support beams
Lots of large logs for fuel wood
A few smaller sticks to use as spacers
Set up your long branches spaced a few feet apart at a 45° angle, keeping them up with the Y-shaped branches. If they don’t want to stand up it may be beneficial to dig them down into the dirt a little ways or put rocks on the bottom to keep them up. They will look like a wide V coming up out of the ground.Step 2:
Place two of the large wood pieces next to one another in between the two sets of slanted branches. Place your spacer sticks between the two to ensure you’ll have room for airflow.Step 3:
Continue placing logs on each side of the two in the middle and up the “ramp” of leaning branches you’ve made on each side.Step 4:
Use your kindling and tinder to get the fire going, on and in between the two large logs in the center.
Once your fire is going, gravity will do the rest! As the logs burn down, the others that are stacked up on the slant will move down into their place. You can make this fire burn as long as you want depending on how much wood you use.
One thing to keep in mind with any campfire, especially these that burn for longer periods of time, is to never leave them unattended. It only takes a small gust of wind to carry embers out of the fire and send something up in flames. If you absolutely must leave your campsite, put the fire out before you do.