Step-by-step guide to building a fire in your garden (without a fire pit)
by Taylor Gathercole
May 20, 2020
Fire is at the heart of every good story. The story of evolution – perhaps the greatest story of all – has seen mankind, since the beginning of time, place fire right at the heart of the home, as a place to eat, as a source of light and warmth, or as the centre point for bringing us together to socialise. Nowadays, we may believe we are less reliant on fire but its power to bring us together and create memories has never waned. In fact, right now, fire has an incredibly important role to play.
Think about your happiest memories - chances are fire will feature in there somewhere. It might be a campfire on summer holidays where you cooked s’mores and sausages as the sun set, it might be a roaring fire providing the backdrop to the perfect Christmas morning, or it might be candles that provided that perfect flickering light as you fell in love for the first time, or laughed with your friends until your belly hurt.
With fire playing such a pivotal part of our memory making, and its ability to calm well documented, it will come as no surprise that more and more people are turning to fire to help them through some of the darker days that comes from a nationwide lockdown.
If you don’t have a firepit then why not use an old washing machine drum, or build a small wall from unused bricks or stones just like you used to on summer camping holidays? If you’re using the stone technique, then getting it ready couldn’t be easier – here’s a simple guide that’s a sure-fire way to get your fire burning this summer!
- First make a clearing for the fire. Ideally, fires should be constructed on bare dirt as it’s the safest terrain.
- Dig a dent into the ground where you want to build your campfire. The centre should be the lowest point to allow for the best fire control and to act as a container of the ashes afterwards.
- Collect medium-sized stones or bricks and position them in a circle around the dent. This will help set a boundary and contain the fire.
- Make sure you access to something to extinguish the fire if it gets out of hand, such as a bucket of water.
- Gather your tinder and kindling wood and make sure it’s dry. If you are not using tinder and kindling you have purchased then dry leaves, dry bark, and small dry branches and twigs respectively will make a great substitute.
- At the centre of your ‘firepit’ build a small pile of tinder, then stack the kindling in the shape of a tepee over the tinder. Keep adding more until it takes a solid structure, then add the firewood against the pieces to strengthen the tepee. Leave a space in the wind’s direction so air can flow, and so you can access the kindling to light it.
- Using a match or a gas lighter carefully light the tinder.
- Keep adding new pieces of firewood as the fire burns and wood starts to disintegrate. Try to avoid overloading the fire as this will cause it to die.
- Finally, sit back and feel the stresses of the day melt away as you relax and watch the flames jump and leap about, and let the warmth slowly envelop you.
- When it’s time to put the fire out, gradually sprinkle water onto it and save the buckets of water or extinguisher for large fires that must be put out immediately. When the fire dies down, use a long stick to mix the ashes and check that all of the embers are dying and put out. Once the ashes are cold, you’ll know it’s fully out.