Skip to main content
Fire Building

10 Fire Building Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making

10 Fire Building Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making

If you are an avid hiker or trekker, then you know that building a fire is one of the most important skills to have. A fire will keep you warm, help cook your food, and provide light during your trip. However, building a fire is not as simple as it seems, and there are many mistakes that even experienced hikers make. In this article, we will discuss the 10 fire-building mistakes you didn’t know you were making.

Mistake #1: Collecting Wet or Damp Wood

One of the biggest mistakes people make when building a fire is using damp or wet wood. Wet wood is hard to ignite and will produce a lot of smoke, making it difficult to keep the fire going. Make sure you collect dry wood that has been on the ground for some time, and avoid using green wood that is still alive.

Mistake #2: Not Gathering Enough Wood

Another common mistake is not collecting enough wood. Make sure you have enough fuel to keep the fire going throughout the night. It’s always better to have more than less.

Mistake #3: Not Using Firestarters

Firestarters are essential for starting a fire quickly and efficiently. Make sure you bring enough fire starters to last your entire trip, and keep them dry in a waterproof container.

Mistake #4: Building a Fire That is Too Large

Building a fire that is too large can be dangerous and is not necessary for keeping warm. Build a fire that is appropriate for the size of your group, and make sure you keep a safe distance from the flames.

Mistake #5: Not Preparing the Site

Before building a fire, make sure you prepare the site. Clear the area of any debris, and create a fire ring using stones or rocks. This will help contain the fire and prevent it from spreading.

Mistake #6: Building a Fire Under Low-Hanging Branches

Building a fire under low-hanging branches is a serious mistake. The heat from the fire can cause the branches to catch fire, creating a dangerous situation. Make sure you build your fire in a clear area with no low-hanging branches.

Mistake #7: Leaving the Fire Unattended

Leaving a fire unattended is not only dangerous, but it can also lead to a wildfire. Never leave a fire unattended, and always make sure it is completely extinguished before leaving the site.

Mistake #8: Not Using the Right Tools

Having the right tools is important for building a fire. Make sure you bring a hatchet and a saw to help cut and chop wood. A shovel will also come in handy for digging a fire pit.

Mistake #9: Starting a Fire in a Dangerous Location

Starting a fire in a dangerous location can lead to serious consequences. Avoid starting a fire near dry grass, leaves, or trees. Look for an area with little vegetation and a clear view of the sky.

Mistake #10: Not Extinguishing the Fire Properly

Extinguishing the fire properly is just as important as starting it. Use water to completely extinguish the fire, and stir the ashes to ensure they are completely cooled down. Never bury hot coals as they can smolder and start a fire days later.

In conclusion, building a fire is an important skill to have when hiking or trekking. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can build a safe and efficient fire that will provide warmth and light during your trip. Remember, always follow fire safety guidelines and leave no trace. Happy hiking!

Frequently Asked Questions – 10 Fire Building Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making

1. Can I use any wood to build a fire?

No, not all woods are suitable for building fires. Hardwoods like oak, maple, and hickory are the best choices since they burn longer and hotter, while softwoods like pine and cedar burn faster and produce more smoke.

2. Can I stack the wood in any way?

No, stacking the wood haphazardly can impede air circulation and prevent the fire from igniting. A good way to stack wood is by creating a teepee shape with kindling at the bottom, followed by bigger pieces of wood.

3. Can I start a fire with paper or cardboard?

Using paper or cardboard as kindling is a common mistake. These materials burn quickly and produce a lot of smoke, making it harder to start the fire. It is best to use dry kindling or fire starters like fatwood or dryer lint instead.

4. Should I use gasoline or lighter fluid to start a fire?

No, both gasoline and lighter fluid are highly flammable and can cause explosive fires. Instead, use fire starters or kindling to get the fire going. If you must use a starter fluid, use a small amount and let it burn off completely before adding more fuel.

5. Can I leave the fire unattended?

No, leaving the fire unattended is a safety hazard, especially if there are children or pets around. Always make sure to keep an eye on the fire and never leave it burning overnight or for extended periods of time.

6. Should I burn trash or plastic in the fire?

No, burning trash or plastic releases harmful chemicals into the air and can be harmful to your health and the environment. Only burn natural materials like wood and leaves, and make sure they are completely burned down before adding more fuel.

7. Should I build the fire directly on the ground?

No, building a fire directly on the ground can damage the soil and leave scorch marks. Instead, build the fire on a fire pit or use a fire ring to protect the ground underneath. Make sure the fire is completely extinguished before leaving the area.

8. Can I use water to put out the fire?

Yes, water is the best way to put out a fire. Make sure to keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby in case of emergency, and never leave the fire burning unattended.

9. Can I dispose of ashes right after the fire?

No, it is important to let the ashes cool down completely before disposing of them. Once the ashes are cold, you can dispose of them in a metal container with a lid, away from flammable materials.

10. Is it safe to cook on an open fire?

Yes, cooking on an open fire can be a fun and enjoyable activity. However, make sure to use the right equipment and utensils, and never leave the fire unattended while cooking. Also, make sure all food is cooked thoroughly before serving.

Related Products for Avoiding Fire Building Mistakes

  • Firestarter – A reliable firestarter can make all the difference when building a fire. Look for a product that is waterproof and windproof, and that can withstand harsh conditions.
  • Folding Camp Stove – If you’re going to be building fires frequently, a folding camp stove can be a great investment. Not only will it help you avoid making common fire building mistakes, but it will also make cooking your meals much easier.
  • Multi-Tool – A multi-tool with a saw and knife can come in handy when gathering firewood or kindling. It can also be helpful for adjusting logs and getting the fire going.
  • Tinder – Dry, easily combustible material is key to getting a fire started. Consider bringing along some lightweight tinder, such as dryer lint or cotton balls coated in petroleum jelly.
  • Fire Pit Ring – If you’re camping in an area without a pre-existing fire pit, a fire pit ring can help you avoid damaging the ground with your fire. It can also help contain the flames and prevent them from spreading.
  • Fire Extinguisher – Accidents happen, and it’s important to be prepared in case your fire gets out of control. Bring along a small fire extinguisher, and make sure you know how to use it.
  • Waterproof Matches – Matches can be unreliable in wet conditions, but waterproof matches are designed to hold up even in the rain. Consider bringing along a few packs as a backup option.
  • Fireproof Gloves – Protect your hands from hot embers and logs with a pair of fireproof gloves. They’ll also come in handy when you need to adjust or move items in the fire.
  • Tripod Grill – A tripod grill can help you avoid building your fire directly on the ground, which can be damaging to the environment. It can also make cooking your meals over the fire much easier.
  • Campfire Rack – Similar to a fire pit ring, a campfire rack can help prevent damage to the ground. It also provides a dedicated space for you to build your fire, making it easier to contain.

Pros & Cons of Fire Building Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making


  • Learning opportunities:
  • Making mistakes while building a fire provides an opportunity to learn and improve fire building skills. Each mistake presents a chance to try different techniques and discover what works best.

  • Not all mistakes result in danger:
  • Not all mistakes made while building a fire are dangerous. Some mistakes may result in a less efficient fire or a longer wait for the fire to start, but ultimately pose no threat to the safety of the campers.

  • Flexibility:
  • Building a fire involves several techniques, and the mistake made in one technique can be balanced by the correct use of another. For instance, if the kindling is damp, larger pieces of wood can be used as an alternative to the kindling.


  • Increased risk of injury:
  • The most significant risk associated with fire building mistakes is an increased risk of injury. Building a fire incorrectly can result in an out-of-control fire, leading to burns to campers or damage to the surrounding environment.

  • Environmental damage:
  • A poorly-built fire can result in environmental damage, scorching or burning of surrounding vegetation, and polluting the air with harmful compounds. Resulting in damage to nature and could potentially lead to wildlife displacement.

  • Wasted resources:
  • Fire building mistakes can consume resources such as wood, time, and energy that can lead to wastage.

Overall, it is crucial to follow fire building guidelines and make an extra effort to prevent making mistakes that could lead to damage to the environment or injury to humans and wildlife. However, mistakes can happen, thus learning from them and adapting is the best approach and making campers prepared through knowledge and experience is the best way to prevent such mistakes.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu