I love camping, so much that after a few years of hobby I decided to start a small business of camping in Ecuador and dedicate myself to thiswww.huigra.com). One of the most interesting things is to light a fire to cook. After many bonfires in between I learned a few tricks that I would like to share. I put them in the order in which they should be executed.
Tinder, the starter of the campfire
The first thing I do before lighting a campfire is to find the correct tinder (also called a starter or fire starter). I do not skimp on looking for enough, because the worst thing is that the tinder runs out before the fire takes shape and we have to relight it. Tinder should be a fast and easy burning item that, unlike larger pieces of wood or charcoal, will do the job of starting the fire for the campfire. The most important thing is to locate very, very dry tinder. Tinder is generally made up of small logs, straw, or leaves. But beware, not just any blade or stick will do. For example, tree leaves that contain many oils are always preferable. Dried eucalyptus leaves for example are a great option, because they have a lot of oil, but it is not always available. Other items I use are cardboard scraps that I cut into small pieces, cotton from the medicine cabinet or toilet paper - unused of course ;-). In fact, my favorite starter is toilet paper.
More fuel: Doritos, antibacterial gel, cooking oil
I usually try not to use additional fuel to the tinder that I can find, but if necessary, a couple of tricks that give me VERY good results are Doritos or antibacterial gel. The antibacterial gel contains a lot of alcohol, so it is safe to use and the Doritos… have no idea how well a campfire is lit with Doritos! (Also works with Cheetos or any high-carb, dry, and fatty snack.)
Another thing that I have also used is cooking oil. The way I use it is by soaking the toilet paper with a few drops of cooking oil and putting it in the form of balls. In general, tinder can be soaked in cooking oil and we make it last much longer. Leftover oil from a can of tuna is a good option too.
The pyre: the key to the establishment of the campfire
After locating the tinder and other improvised fuels, the logs must be arranged in such a way that it is more efficient to light them. Be careful, I will always refer to a campfire with wood, but if you have Coal, welcome too.
I usually arrange the logs in the shape of a pyre. Drilling a hole in the center of the fire (where I place the tinder) and stacking logs around the perimeter in the shape of a volcano, so that the air enters under the pyre and circulates up the center of it. The flame should come out vigorously over the top of our volcano. If the flame weakens we can introduce more fuel at the top: Doritos, gel, paper.
Light the fire without matches
This is always a challenge if we don't have a lighter or matches. I always say that a good fire is lit with a single match. But if we do not have there are several options available, which although they take time and consume our patience, they work.
For me, a very effective solution that I love is to use a couple of batteries and gum paper (of these foil laminated papers that come as wrapping for gum like Orbits or Trident). Another trick is to use a small 9V battery with a fire or steel wool to clean pots, but those with very fine wire. We will already make a video explaining this better.
Another solution of course is to bring a magnesium or iron bar with you. These bars are VERY useful when there is a lot of humidity or rain. Personally, I prefer the ferrocerium ones, they are much more effective for my taste and you don't have to make as much effort to get sparks out of it as the magnesium ones. If you still do not know where to get them, I leave a link to buy them on Amazon. They are very useful and inexpensive.
Stoke the fire
Once the logs start to burn and never before should be started to stoke. If we stoke earlier, it is likely that we will put out our fire before we start. For this there is no better thing than a fan, which can be improvised with any sheet that we find. More sophisticated methods such as using hair dryers, bellows or fans are not bad, but when we camp we cannot always resort to these luxuries. If nothing is available the last resort will always be our lungs.