Enjoying a night under the stars in the great outdoors with a crackling campfire nearby is tough to beat. However, it's important to remember that a successful campfire is a safe campfire. Choosing the right spot for your fire, crafting a containment ring to keep the coals from escaping, and keeping supplies handy to quickly extinguish the flames are the keys to building a safe campfire.

EditSelecting the Area for the Pit

  1. Make sure itís legal to start a fire in your area. Before you build a campfire pit, you need to make sure itís allowed and if there any special steps or precautions that youíre required to take. If youíre at a campground or a park, ask the park ranger or check the rules about building a fire. There may be rules about where or how large of a fire you can build. If youíre not sure, donít build a fire![1]

    • Check the local fire-danger level, which is usually displayed at ranger stations or along roads. If you canít find one, try looking online or calling the local government office.

  2. Select a flat spot away from trees, dry grass, and lots of leaves. Low hanging branches from trees and lots of brush or dry grass can easily catch fire and get out of control quickly. Choosing flat and level ground to build a campfire pit will also help prevent any coals or embers from rolling away. A good rule of thumb is to choose an area that is at least away from trees and brush.[2]
  3. Pick a spot that protects your fire pit from the wind. Take note of strong prevailing winds and choose a location that is protected from direct exposure to them. Strong winds can blow coals from the fire and spread it. Try to avoid building a campfire pit in an open area exposed to high winds.[3]

    • Use natural features like hills or boulders to shield your fire pit from the wind.
    • Arrange your camp so that the wind is at your back to block or deflect it from blowing directly onto your fire.
    • If the wind is strong enough to blow debris around, itís too windy to start a fire!

  4. Choose a place at least away from your lodging. It may be tempting to build a nice fire near the entrance of your cabin or tent to help keep warm, but the materials that make up your tent, cabin, or other form of lodging may not need to be exposed to a direct flame to heat up and catch fire. Be sure to choose a place for your fire pit thatís far enough away from your lodging and camping supplies.[4]

    • Donít place a sleeping bag next to a campfire because the material could catch fire before you notice it!

EditBuilding a Containment Ring

  1. Clear an area at least around the pit. Before you start to build the containment ring for your fire, you should remove any fire hazards that could cause the fire to spread. Pick up any sticks, leaves, or other flammable material around the area of your fire pit.[5]

    • Even if the leaves or branches are damp, you still need to clear them from the area because they could dry out and catch fire.
    • Try to rake up any dry leaves as well.

  2. Dig out a bowl-shaped indentation about deep. A small indentation in the ground will help contain the coals and protect them from the wind. It also allows your fire to burn bright and hot with less smoke because the coals are concentrated in the bowl. Use a shovel or a sturdy stick to dig out the indentation.[6]

    • The width of the bowl could vary depending on how large of a fire youíre building, but a diameter bowl should be sufficient for most campfires.

  3. Use rocks or large logs to form a diameter ring. Rocks that are fist-sized or larger are great for making a containment ring. Place them side by side without any gaps in between them to form a containment circle. You could also use large logs to make a ring around the fire pitójust make sure theyíre not so dry that theyíll catch fire easily.[7]

    • A ring with a diameter should be large enough for a medium-sized fire, but you can make a larger ring if needed.

  4. Build a fire inside the containment ring. Gather some small brush or leaves for tinder, some dry, medium-sized branches for kindling, and larger dry logs to use as fuel for your fire. Make a teepee structure with your tinder and kindling and light the tinder at the center of the teepee. Add the larger logs when the fire gets going.[8]

    • Youíll need about 4-5 logs to keep a campfire burning for 2 hours, so make sure you gather enough.
    • Keep the logs you plan to use as fuel at least away from the fire pit so thereís no chance they could catch fire.
    • Make sure you gather enough fuel to last for as long as you need a fire.
    • Bring your own firewood if there isnít any available around you or if youíre not permitted to collect it. Contact a park ranger or a local government office to make sure you can gather and burn wood around you.

  5. Keep a bucket that holds of water nearby. Itís always a good idea to keep a bucket or large container of water near the area of the fire pit in case you need to put out any sparks or embers that pop out of the fire. A fire can get out of control quickly, so keep enough water to put the whole fire out at a momentís notice.[9]

    • Always put out your fire when you are ready to leave. Soak the pit with water before you leave, even if you let the fire die out on its own.
    • Keep a fire extinguisher on hand as well to prevent a possible forest fire.
    • Having water nearby also makes the job of extinguishing the fire quick and easy.

EditThings Youíll Need

  • A bucket
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Shovel or sturdy stick
  • Rocks or large logs to form a ring
  • Kindling
  • Brush or leaves for tinder
  • Medium-sized branches for kindling
  • Large logs for fuel


  • Never leave a campfire unattended. Make sure your fire is completely extinguished before you leave the area or go to sleep.

EditRelated wikiHows


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