blazing fire on a lake in the woods

How to build your best campfire ever!

How To Build The Perfect Campfire

Summer is here! Oh, those lazy, hazy, crazy daze spent living in your wet bathing suit, swimming off the dock, BBQing for every dinner and camp fires at night.   

Ah yes, the campfire. Do you think of gooey marshmallow sticks, storytelling and faces lit by the warm glow, or do you flash to frustration with lighting the tinder, blowing those precious embers then billows of smoke before the final darkness?

Well, we have some ideas from the experts to help make your campfire easy, safe, and enjoyable.

How to build your best campfire ever.

Find a safe location.

Safety first! Ideally, your cottage will have a fire pit located a safe distance away from the cottage. If not, be sure to set your campfire up in an area that is away from parked vehicles, trees & shrubs, any potentially flammable item and ideally near the lake. Look above the fire pit to ensure the heat and sparks can fly free with no risk of catching light. A sandy base with rocks around is great.

Use dry wood.

Be sure to remove any unburned pieces of wood from your fire pit. Always start fresh with wood that you have secured or collected. Make sure the wood is dry as it burns best. Naturally, you will need matches or a lighter to start the fire.

Fuel (wood) Sizes.

According to the Family Handman there are three types of fuel.  

Tinder, kindling & firewood.

You want to gather all three sizes of fuel. Very small bits of wood, bark and dry moss will be your tinder. This is where you’ll start the fire. Tightly twisted newspaper, paper bags or paper egg cartons also work well the tinder pile.

“You can use anything from dry leaves and dryer lint to crumpled paper or a commercial fire starter—just make sure it’s totally dry,” informs Cottage Life, “Broken-up bits of candle wax are another solid option...Small branches, slices of bark, or twigs—again, so long as they’re totally dry—are good sources.”

Then you will want slightly larger pieces of wood or kindling. Larger twigs, branches that are dry or wood splinters that you’ve separated from the logs carefully using a small axe.

Then your larger pieces of dry wood – roughly 2 feet long and 6-12” in diameter. You will want a stack of these beside your fire (not too close) so as your fire burns down you can add more fuel. Always add fuel very gently.

Stack the wood according to the type of campfire you want.

If you want to go for the full experience, then marshmallows and s’mores are a must. The “teepee” which involves creating a tent-like structure with wood that surrounds and covers the tinder, is great for roasting.

Cottage Life is a fan of the teepee structure “The wide, open base lets in plenty of oxygen, so it’s a great technique when you’re in a hurry to get warm,” reports their website, “It also burns through logs more quickly than other types of campfires, but you can easily replace them by laying more against the structure as they burn.” Be gentle. Your fire structure is delicate, and hot so gentle but quickly.

For long-lasting fires, The Family Handyman recommends the Pyramid or Log Cabin.

  • “Place three or four of your largest pieces of firewood in the center of the firepit, side by side.
  • Lay another three pieces of firewood in the opposite direction on top of the first three. Continue to layer with smaller-sized wood as the pyramid gets taller, ending with kindling.
  • Top the pyramid with a handful of tinder or a few fire starters.”

You will light the tinder which lights the kindling which then ignites the wood. Having some extra kindling and tinder close is a great idea so that you are “feeding” the small embers as they grow. You must pay close attention in this early stage of lighting the fire. Once the larger pieces start to take hold, then you can sit back and watch, enjoy and feed when need be.

Always, Always Extinguish Your Fire. The night might seem still, the final few embers are burning and you’re sure it will be fine to go off to bed. But spend the few minutes it will take to separate out the logs with your fire “poker” stick, get a pale of water (or an old milk jug) and slowly drench the logs. Then shovel some sand over the embers. It just takes a change in the wind to change everything.

The DockHinge team wants your summer at the cottage to be easy so you can enjoy your free time.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to learn all about how our patented, strength rated, innovative dock coupler system provides you with a safe and quiet way to easily connect dock sections within minutes! You can call us at 1-844-423-1231, email us at or fill out the form on our Contact Us page!