How to Build a Fire

Fire is an integral part of human survival. We use fire to cook the food we eat, we use the heat from the fire to sterilize objects, and boil and purify water. Also, we obtain warmth for our own bodies from the heat of the flames. Knowing how to build a fire is an invaluable survival skill and will affect your life positively in one way or another.


  • Tinder
  • Sticks for kindling
  • Matches
  • Gas


Building a Tepee Fire

  1. Arrange the tinder and a few sticks for kindling in the shape of a tepee or cone.
  2. Light the center using matches and gas.
  3. As the tepee burns, the outside logs should fall inwards, feeding the fire.
  4. Wet the tinder for this fire to burn well and evenly.

Building a Lean-to Fire

  1. Push a green stick into the ground at a 30-degree angle to lay this fire; make sure the end of the stick is pointing in the direction of the wind.
  2. Under the lean-to stick, place some tinder there, leaning pieces of kindling against the lean-to stick.
  3. Light the tinder with matches and gas. As the kindling starts to catch fire from the tinder, add more kindling.

Building a Cross Ditch Fire

  1. To build this type of fire, scratch a cross about 30 centimeters in size and 7.5 centimeters deep on the ground.
  2. In the middle of the cross, place a large wad of tinder and build a kindling pyramid above it.
  3. Air is allowed to sweep under the tinder to provide a draft due to the shallow ditch.

Building a Pyramid Fire

  1. For the construction of a pyramid fire, place two small logs or branches parallel to each other on the ground.
  2. Lay a solid layer of small logs across the parallel logs and add three or four more layers of logs or branches. Make sure each layer is smaller than and at a right angle to the previous layer, or the layer below it.
  3. On top of the pyramid, make a starter fire; as the starter fire burns, it will ignite the logs laid below it. This will create a fire that burns downward and requires no attention during the night.

Tips and warnings

  • There are a wide variety of ways to build a fire; this article only mentioned a few. Available materials and circumstances will determine which method is more suitable at the time.
  • To move fuel around in a fire, damp the end of a long sturdy stick with water and use the end to move timber and wood pieces around. Sometimes moving log pieces around greatly improves the quality of fire.
  • Practice will yield better fire-building over time. Offer to help an experienced person build a fire and soon enough you will be ready to pass on your own fire-making skill to others.
  • If you will be on a campsite for multiple days, store fuel in a dry area in case it rains. This way you should have enough dry fuel to start or continue fires during your trip.
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