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5 Easy Campfire Starter Ideas

Published on January 26th, 2023 by Contributor, Let's RV

Sitting by a warm campfire is fun in winter and summer. These easy campfire starter ideas are safer, less smelly, non-toxic, and repurpose scrap material you already have at home.

How to Make an Awesome Campfire

Building a campfire is a learned skill that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Many beginner RVers and tenters have no idea how to start one! Some people try stacking three logs into a fire pit and tossing matches onto it to get the flames going. Others stack pine needles under their wood, only to flood the campground with smoke. Neither campfire starter method ever results in success.

Fire needs air to grow, so don’t just stack your wood in a dense pile. One way to start is by laying larger pieces of wood in a cross-hatch pattern, making a small tower. Then, place plenty of kindling (e.g. dried leaves, small twigs, etc.) and firestarter (e.g., paraffin-soaked cotton balls, shredded paper, etc) in the gaps between the wood.

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Campfires, The National Park Service
friends around ice fishing campfire
The right campfire starter gets the fun going faster!

Why You Should Avoid Flame Accelerants

Whatever you do when building a campfire, don’t reach for accelerants like lighter fluid, or gasoline. Squirting even a small amount of either onto a campfire can be dangerous. The liquid can splatter onto your skin, and ignite if you get too close. Accelerants can scatter onto nearby flammables and burn down the forest. Why risk it?

There’s no need use accelerants to ignite a fire, especially when you have these easy campfire starter ideas that work better, and safer are much safer too.

Make these Awesome Campfire Starters Instead

During summer or winter camping, one of the best parts of the experience is being outside at night to stargaze. RVers who do this kind of thing are one of the best sources for campfire starter ideas. Members of the Forest River Forums community recently shared their favorites.

The Egg Carton Campfire Starter

egg carton campfire starter idea
Egg carton DIY campfire starter idea

“Had some time this weekend to sit down and make these. I’ve had the material all summer long but just never got around to doing it,” reported @Iwritecode in the Forest River Forums community. This fan favorite is among the easiest campfire starter ideas out there.

  1. Find a paper egg carton
  2. Collect sawdust or dryer lint. Place into egg carton.
  3. Gather old (or cheap store-bought) candles. Melt all in a pan over a low flame.
  4. Carefully pour melted wax over egg carton contents.
  5. Break the carton apart into 12 individual pieces
  6. Place one starter inside the gaps of your campfire wood stack.
  7. Light your DIY starter, and gather around the fire!
This DIY fire starter is easy enough for Cub Scouts to make!

Wine Cork Fire Starters

Are you a wine enthusiast? Be sure to save those used wine corks. You can repurpose them to start campfires. Corks are great fire starters because they’re made from one of the most flammable sources around: tree bark. The bark is harvested from the Corn Oak Tree, a species mostly found in Portugal and Spain. No trees are felled just for corks either. Trees are only harvested for cork every nine years, to allow for bark regeneration.

When you repurpose corks into campfire starters, the result is a batch of small, compact fire starters that are easy to store in the RV. Here’s how to make wine cork fire starters.

  1. Get a large mouth, quart-sized mason jar
  2. Stuff as many wine corks as you can inside the jar
  3. Fill the jar with 91% isopropyl alcohol
  4. Let soak for at least 72 hours, then remove the corks
  5. Seal your wine corks in a bag, go camping, and enjoy!

Toilet Paper Roll Campfire Starters

“I use the tube cores from toilet paper and paper towels stuffed with dry pine needles/forest duff,” says @JRHill02 from the Forest River Forums. “Just grab a hand full and slightly align the needles, squeeze and stuff into the tube. I fill feed bags from under a tree and set them aside before the rains come.”

Here’s where dryer lint and/or sawdust comes in handy again.

  1. Collect toilet paper rolls, or paper towel rolls that are cut into two pieces
  2. Gather dryer lint and sawdust too if you have some. Stuff it into the paper rolls.
  3. Round up old candles. Melt them in a pan over low heat.
  4. Stand your toilet paper rolls on end. Pour melted wax into them.
  5. You can seal the ends by wrapping the roll with brown craft paper, or just fold the ends into the roll if you’d like.
  6. It’s that easy. Your DIY campfire starters are done, now go camping!
Similar to egg carton campfire starters, toilet paper rolls and dryer lint work too.

Our last but most complicated campfire starter idea requires a saw. But if you’re good with using that tool, making campfire starters with a cheap store-bought fire log is fast and easy.

Store Bought Fire Logs Campfire Starter

cheap firelog for homemade campfire starter idea
Get a cheap firelog and cut it down.

“I use one of those fire starting logs,” shares Forest River Forums member @Guspech750. This method is so easy, it doesn’t need instructions.

“I just cut a small chunk and use my blow torch to start our campfires.” He goes on to describe how he uses about two logs in one camping season. “Two to three small trips a month and if we throw in a big trip. Easy peasy and fires right up.”

Homemade Campfire Starter Ideas are Endless!

Do any internet search for “campfire starter ideas” and you’ll find different versions of these DIY methods. If you have a favorite, comment and share below.

This post may contain affiliate links or mention our own products, please check out our disclosure policy here.