As an experienced RVer and campfire enthusiast, I’ve often marveled at the campfire’s dual nature. It’s a source of warmth, a beacon of fellowship, and a link to our ancestral past, but it can also be a potential hazard if not managed responsibly.

The key is to strike a balance, respecting both the campfire’s allure and its inherent dangers. This article will equip you with the necessary skills and etiquette for starting an eco-friendly campfire, contributing to a safe and enjoyable RV experience. 

Campfire Etiquette and Views

Among RVers, there’s a clear division of opinions on campfires. One camp prefers to forgo them, especially during the hotter months, while the other can’t resist the allure of a crackling fire at every opportunity. It’s important for those who do choose to light a campfire to understand and practice good fire etiquette.

As a seasoned RVer, let me share with you some unspoken rules I’ve learned over the years.

Essential Tools for Starting a Campfire

Starting a campfire requires more than just a spark of knowledge. You need to have practical skills as well as the right tools.

These are the most common ones:

  • Matches: They are inexpensive, light, and easy to use. You can easily spark a fire using any rough surface.
  • Lighter: Another affordable, lightweight option that doesn’t need a rough surface to create a flame.
  • Magnesium Strip or Scraper: Lightweight and reusable, you can create sparks by scraping magnesium shavings into tinder with a knife.

There are also a couple of primitive, yet effective, techniques to spark a fire:

  • Bow Drill Set: It’s a bit challenging to master but quite useful. The friction created by the spindle against the fireboard creates an ember, which can then be transferred to your tinder.
  • Hand Drill: Similar to the bow drill, the hand drill uses a stick spun by hand to create an ember.
  • Firesteel or Sparking tool: This tool creates a hot spark when a knife’s back is scraped down its length. It takes some practice to get the hang of it, but it’s a valuable skill to master.

Gathering the Right Tinder

Tinder plays a crucial role in maintaining your campfire’s flame. Its type varies based on your geographical location. In the eastern part of the USA, the deciduous tree is a great source, while in the western part, pine needles and bark from juniper trees are more common. Here are a few types of Tinder you might encounter:

  • Pine needles
  • Leaves
  • Bark
  • Grasses

Avoid gathering materials from live trees and plants to maintain nature’s beauty. Also, consider making feather sticks from deadwood or using common household items such as cotton balls, dryer lint, cardboard, or newspaper as tinder.

Producing the Flame

Now that you have your Tinder, clear a solid base and place your sparking tool’s end on Tinder. Position your knife’s top at the sparking tool’s top and produce a spark on the tinder. At this point, the tinder should have a small flame that you’ll need to nurture for it to grow bigger.

Handling Campfire Ashes

When camping in popular areas, campfire rings are usually provided and maintained by the staff. But if you’re camping in a more remote location, it falls on you to clean up after your fire. Make sure the fire is completely out and the coals are cold before collecting the ashes. Crush them and scatter them in the woods, ensuring they’re not dumped in one pile.

Safety Guidelines

For a safe and responsible campfire experience, always check the campsite’s regulations before starting a fire. If the campsite lacks a fire pit, you can use large rocks to create one.

Always keep your firewood away from the fire pit and never leave your campfire unattended. To extinguish the fire, use water or dirt, and ensure it’s far from overhanging trees.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, campfires hold a special place in our hearts as RVers. They serve as the heart of our gatherings, a cooking spot, and a source of warmth on chilly nights. However, the responsibility of lighting and maintaining a safe and eco-friendly fire falls on us.

By adhering to these guidelines, you’re not only ensuring your safety but also preserving the beauty of the environment for future RVers.

Enjoy your campfires responsibly, and safe travels!