Log Cabin Fire

The log cabin fire, also known as the criss cross fire, is one of the two most popular set-ups for starting fires. It is essentially a criss-cross build of small to medium sized wood that either can burn down to create a quick cooking fire from boiling/frying on the flams or basic cooking on the coals.

Often this fire is the foundation for larger fires, either built as a start into it, such as the council fire, or it requires more wood to be added to it in a trench fire, or simple fire pit.

How to Build a Log Cabin Fire

1/ Assess the location.This fire has relatively few needs, primarily a flat location, away from trees and overhead flammable items, most likely also from trees. Ideally there is some type of windbreak also implemented. As always consider the surroundings for fire hazards, wind direction and similar.

2/ Mark out the base. This fire, as per its name, required the foundation of it cabin to be built first. The size of this will determine the size of the fire, and resultant the time the fire will burn. Typically it is a foot/30cm square. Clear any rocks, twigs, leaves and similar from this area and a safety zone around it, ideally a couple of yards/meters.

3/ Lay the fire. The wood for this fire may be all the same thickness, however this shouldn’t typically be more than 1 inch/3cm in diameter to make sure it catches fire easily and burns swiftly. The wood forming the base of this structure may be slightly thicker. Two sticks are laid parallel, then two perpendicular on top of this. At this point I build the starting fire within this, it may be a pyramid fire, smaller log fire, or if the actual log cabin fire is small enough just a bunching of tinder and kindling that is strong enough to light the cabin wood.

Once the lighter fire is set, then continue to build the log cabin, however this time it doesn’t just consist of the two parallel logs, but also lengths of wood evenly spread. It isn’t built to a peak, but rather just as its name suggests a box shaped cabin. Typically, it only needs to consist of 4 to 6 levels.

4/ Light the fire. This fire should be easily lit with a single match (or equivalent) placed into the base fire starting area. The tinder will easily catch, which will then light the kindling that will continue burning to light the log cabin frame. As it burns it creates a boiling flame, it then slowly falls into itself creating a bed of coals. Extra fire wood can be added to extend the burn time of the fire.

5/ Maintaining the fire. As the log cabin fire burns it creates a boiling flame, it then slowly falls into itself creating a bed of coals. Extra fire wood can be added to extend the burn time of the fire.

6/ Extinguishing the fire. This fire is exposed on the surface of the ground making it susceptible to issues from the wind if not extinguished correctly. If not fully burnt, the remaining wood should be spread evenly among the bed of the fire footprint, essentially giving it too much oxygen. It should then be extinguished carefully with water. Do not leave until it is fully extinguished and cool to the touch otherwise it can re-ignite.

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About Saffron Hodgson

Outdoor cooking has been Saffron’s passion since she was young, often choosing to go camping and cook hearty meals over fire rather than stay inside, watch TV, and eat take-out. Today she is the driving force of Bush Cooking bringing the skills of cooking outdoors to thousands of people.

Learn more about Saffron Hodgson
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