Gone Outdoors

How to Have Less Smoke in a Campfire

by Karen Sheviak

A campfire can be a great part of a camping vacation. However, knowing how to build a fire that has great flames without a lot of smoke can have you, and your neighbors, breathing easier. Check the rules in your campground before leaving home. Some prohibit gathering wood from the campground, while others won't allow wood to be brought in. Purchasing firewood is your best option because you can get the type you want and you can be sure it is dry and ready to burn.

Select wood that is dead and dry. Wood that is wet or still green will take longer to light and will emit a lot of smoke once lit. If it has been raining, try to gather the wood ahead of time and place it in an area where it can dry out a little. The wood should be gathered from the ground because many campgrounds prohibit people from breaking limbs off of trees, even if the trees appear to be dead.

Gather the right type of wood. Hardwood, such as maple, ash and oak, burns hotter and cleaner than softwood, such as pine. A hotter flame means less smoke. However, you can choose small sticks of softwood for kindling because they tend to light more easily than hardwoods. They will help you get the fire started, then the hardwood will burn longer once it gets going.

Crumple some newspaper and place it in the fire pit. The newspaper should not be in a very tight ball because air within the fire will help prevent smoke. Place some kindling on top of the newspaper in a square or A shape. The kindling will help the larger logs light. Be sure to leave some space between each piece of kindling for air to get through.

Place a log on top of the kindling and light the fire with matches. As the pieces burn down, add more wood, varying between medium-size kindling and larger logs. Keep leaving some space between the pieces of wood, but not so much that they won't catch fire. This will reduce the smoke and increase the flames.

Items you will need
  • Newspaper
  • Kindling
  • Firewood
  • Matches

Warning

  • Keep a bucket or two of water near a campfire at all times.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images