There are many kinds of campfires, so what kind of campfire design can make them burn more efficiently. We will introduce several campfire design below:
The teepee fire-build takes some patience to construct. First, the tinder is piled up in a compact heap. The smaller kindling is arranged around it, like the poles of a tipi. For added strength, it may be possible to lash some of the sticks together. A tripod lashing is quite difficult to execute with small sticks, so a clove hitch should suffice. Then the larger kindling is arranged above the smaller kindling, taking care not to collapse the tipi. A separate tipi as a shell around the first one may work better. Tipi fires are excellent for producing heat to keep people warm. The gases from the bottom quickly come to the top as you add more sticks.
A log cabin fire-build likewise begins with a tinder pile. The kindling is then stacked around it, as in the construction of a log cabin. The first two kindling sticks are laid parallel to each other, on opposite sides of the tinder pile. The second pair is laid on top of the first, at right angles to it, and also on opposite sides of the tinder. More kindling is added in the same manner. The smallest kindling is placed over the top of the assembly. Of all the fire-builds, the log cabin is the least vulnerable to premature collapse, but it is also inefficient because it makes the worst use of convection to ignite progressively larger pieces of fuel. However, these qualities make the log cabin an ideal cooking fire as it burns for a long period of time and can support cookware.
A hybrid fire combines the elements of both the tipi and the log cabin, creating an easily lit yet stable fire structure. The hybrid is made by first erecting a small tipi and then proceeding to construct a log cabin around it. This fire structure combines benefits of both fire types: the tipi allows the fire to ignite easily and the log cabin sustains the fire for a long time.
A cross-fire is built by positioning two pieces of wood with the tinder in between. Once the fire is burning well, additional pieces of wood are placed on top in layers that alternate directions. This type of fire creates coal suitable for cooking.
A lean-to fire-build starts with the same pile of tinder as the tipi fire-build. Then, a long, thick piece of kindling is driven into the ground at an angle, so that it overhangs the tinder pile. The smaller pieces of kindling are leaned against the big stick so that the tinder is enclosed between them. In an alternative method, a large piece of fuelwood or log can be placed on the ground next to the tinder pile. Then kindling is placed with one end propped up by the larger piece of fuelwood, and the other resting on the ground so that the kindling is leaning over the tinder pile. This method is useful in very high winds, as the piece of fuel wood acts as a windbreak.
A keyhole fire is made in a keyhole-shaped fire ring, and is used in cooking. The large round area is used to build fire to create coal. As coals develop, they are scraped into the rectangular area used for cooking.
A "top lighter" fire is built similar to a log cabin or pyre, but instead of the tinder and kindling being placed inside the cabin, it is placed in a tipi on top. The small tipi is lighted on top, and the coals eventually fall down into the log cabin. Outdoor youth organizations often build these fires for "council fires" or ceremonial fires. They burn predictably, and with some practice a builder can estimate how long they will last. They also do not throw off much heat, which isn't needed for a ceremonial fire. The fire burns from the top down, with the layer of hot coals and burning stubs igniting the next layer down.
Dakota smokeless pit fire produces a low light signature, reduced smoke, and is easier to ignite under strong wind conditions. Two small holes are dug in the ground: one vertical for the firewood and the other slanted to the bottom of the first hole to provide a draft of air for nearly complete combustion. Optional are flat stones to partially cover the first hole and provide support for cookery, and a tree over the pits to disperse the smoke.
- Dakota smokeless pit fire