One Hot Mama
My husband is king of the grill at home. When we are camping, I am Ultimate Supreme Ruler of the fire. I let him help keep it going and he gets to cut and split all the wood, but the actual fire and cooking is my job.
The most important part of the campfire happens before you set flame to it. It has to be built right-and with dry wood. One time I watched a group try to start a fire with wet wood. They had enough smoke to signal the entire text of War and Peace. Always bring some wood with you. They may sell bundles at the site, but you can't guarantee it is dry. You can also always get wood at a nearby store.
I was taught the Tepee and Log Cabin building forms. I tend to have fires built as a hybrid. A tepee shape in the center made of medium to small sticks, kindling, and tinder with some decent size logs around the base. Tucked into the center of the tender is my family's secret fire starting method. Well, not that secret, we taught it at every Girl Scout camp we attended and I've shared it with fellow campers. And, it doesn't involve any of that smelly liquid stuff.
TaDaa! Dryer lint in an egg carton covered in wax!
Everyone cleans out the dryer lint trap (or should!) Lint is very flammable. As I take it out, I pack it into a cardboard egg carton-the styrofoam ones do not work. When it's full, close it up and pour melted wax over the top. The carton and the wax slow down the burning a bit so that the wood catches. My mom use to buy wax from the store and melt it in a double boiler. I use melted candles and pour the wax over as the candle melts away. If you use a scented candle, the scent sometimes can be smelt as it burns in the campfire. Nice.
When the fire is built, light the cardboard carton and wait. It will take a minute or 2 to catch the wood. Don't rush it. My daughter is learning the ins and outs of campfires. I have to remind her that the fire is like a small animal. You have to be gentle. It needs air and food (fuel). If you take away the air flow, the fire will put itself out. Don't be tempted to shove newspaper in there to hurry it along. I've actually stopped taking any paper with us because my husband suffocated too many fires with newspaper.