The snow can put quite a damper on things, especially if you're wanting or needing a campfire! This guide on how to build a campfire in the winter will have you sitting around a roaring, crackling fire in no time! It truly is a song of ice and fire! All Game of Thrones references aside, here's how to build a fire in the winter!
Choose A Spot
If you are winter camping at a campground, finding a spot to start your fire will be easy, as your site's fire pit will be the only spot you can start your fire! If you're staying for an extended period of time, keep a tarp over the fire pit, or place something over the pit to keep it snow free and clear when you need it! Finding a good spot for a fire while out in the wilderness is a different story! You'll have to consider a variety of factors when choosing a spot. Pick somewhere that is away from trees, as a fire built too close to the base of a tree can cause it damage. Also, do not build a fire under an overhanging branch, as the heat of the fire will cause snow on the branches to melt and douse your fire! Chose a nice, flat spot, preferably with shallow snow, or completely free of snow accumulation. If you cannot find a spot that is completely or nearly clear of snow, shovel out a space down as far as you can get to the ground. If you can't completely remove the snow, be sure to pack it down as much as you can. You'll want to dig out an area big enough for your fire and for everyone who needs to get close to the fire. The flames won't be able to keep you warm if they are sunk into the snow a foot or two!
It will be incredibly beneficial to get out and look for kindling to help start your fire! Kindling helps to catch the flame, so dry, easily burnable materials are best! What you find will depend on where you are staying! Bark makes great kindling, especially birch bark. The inner part of birch bark can be scraped and ignited, even when wet! Check near the trunk of coniferous trees for thin branches, as they will be protected from the snow and will be relatively dry. Try to snap these and if they break easily, they should be dry enough to ignite! Other useful items to look for are mosses and lichens. If you do find birch trees, tinder fungus will ignite from only sparks! You can find it under birch bark that looks charred and shingled, and will crumble when touched! Another great kindling is old man's beard, which is a lichen that almost appears hairy, or beard-like, and will more than likely be growing on a branch nearby!
Looking For Firewood
If you're RV camping, especially at a campground, it'll be easier for you to keep a hearty supply of dry firewood on hand. Be sure to bring along the best firewood for your campfire! Trekking across the winter landscape definitely isn't the ideal opportunity to haul heavy logs along with you, so you'll have to rely on the landscape around you for firewood! Look for fallen dead trees, preferably in an area with heavy overhead coverage and little snow, which will produce dryer wood. Even if wood is in the snow, the core of the wood will still be considerably dry, so strip away the outer layers! Once you have your wood gathered, make sure you keep it dry!
Starting The Fire
Once you've gathered enough tinder, twigs, and branches, it's time to get this fire started! First, you will want to build a base on the spot where you're going to be building your fire. Line up a row of sturdy sticks in order to keep your fire from coming into direct contact with the cold, snowy ground below, which could deter it from lighting and maintaining. Once you have your base, place tinder on it and light with either a match, lighter, or flint. Once flames have taken to the tinder, keep adding more, along with super thin twigs. When flames start to grow, start adding pencil sized pieces of wood, and once the flames take to the smaller one, gradually add larger sticks in a teepee pattern, alternating on each side every time you add a twig. Eventually, you will be able to add large branches, or logs if you have them! It is important to rememberer not to smother the fire as you are adding more twigs or branches. Fire needs oxygen in order to grow, so if you completely cover your fledgling flame, you will smother it and have to start from scratch!
If you can bring them along with you, fire starters will make this process a lot easier! There are a variety of great products out there, like fire paste, fuel cubes (great for backpacking), fire starters, or you could always make your own! If you have the room in your RV or your backpack, they could be a really useful tool! Hopefully you are now reading this in the glow of a roaring, toasty fire! This guide on how to build a campfire in the winter will surely help you to achieve some nice, warm flames! Now that you know what to look for, get out there and stay toasty in these cold winter months! Have you started a fire in the winter before? Comment to share your experiences!