An essential part of many a campers experience is a good campfire. You can cook just about anything over a fire, you can heat water for dishes or a bush shower, deter mosquitoes and flies with the smoke and use it to keep warm and stare into for hours.
You can also burn down millions of hectares of bush and destroy lives if you’re not careful;
Which leads me to my first point…
Never ignore a fire ban. Nuff said. Even if you are allowed to have a fire, it doesn’t always mean you should. If it’s a very hot, dry and/or windy day consider using the gas stove instead and save the potential for an accident. It’s wise also to bring your own firewood if possible, saves you having to hunt for wood and it leaves a few more logs in the scrub for the animals to call home.
Where to set the fire
Choose a suitable location first, away from any dry grass and a reasonable distance from tents and vehicles. If there are any signs of a previous campfire or a dedicated fire ring, be sure to use that rather than create another big fire scar on the ground. If you wish to create a fire ring out of rocks, be VERY careful as some rocks can contain air pockets within. When that air expands and has nowhere to go….BOOM!! Shards of hot rock to the face.
Starting the Fire
Matches, Lighters, Flints, Fire Steels, Magnifying Glasses, Batteries or friction. All legitimate ways to create a fire and varying in difficulty. We’ll keep it simple and choose matches or a lighter for now. Gather a variety of firewood from leaves or dry grass to twigs, up to thicker sticks and logs. Start your fire in the leaves or grass, and once that’s taken hold pile on some twigs. Wait for the fire to take a good hold on the twigs and move on to bigger sticks and logs. Building it gradually is the key, lump it all on at once and you end up choking the fire out.
Type’s of Wood
Two type’s you need to think about here. Soft wood and hard wood. Soft wood’s such as Pine burn hot and fast, great for getting a fire going nicely. You’ll know if it’s a soft wood as they are quite light and snap or split easily. Hard woods such as Jarrah are slower burning and unlike softwoods they create good hot long-lasting coals for cooking on. You’ll know if it’s a hard wood when it is rather dense and heavy, and a real bugger to split or cut.
Extinguishing the Fire
If you light a real good fire, you’ll end up having to extinguish it because it just never goes out. You can’t leave a fire unattended at any time, so what’s the best way to go about it?
Well the method of choice is to absolutely drown the fire, but if water is too precious you can scatter the coals and perhaps sprinkle some soil over it.
Scattering the coals prevents them holding heat as long, however never just bury the entire thing and be done with it.
Burying the fire can help the coals retain heat for days, creating a fiery super pit resembling hell itself; just waiting to open up and swallow the first bare foot which chances upon it.