Deep conversations, carefree sing-alongs, and laughing with friends around a fire don’t have to be exclusive to the summer months. If you haven’t already had the chance to enjoy an outdoor campfire this winter, the upcoming long weekend is the perfect chance. However, there are a few extra tricks when it comes to not only getting a fire started in the snow, but also maintaining it. Here, we’ve gathered a few tips to give you a hand.
Choosing a location
If you already have a built-in firepit free of snow, you should have no problem. If not, there are a few things you’ll need to do first. If there’s little snow in your area, shovel what you have aside so that you can start the fire on solid ground. If there’s a thick base or too much snow to push aside, pack it down so that you have a solid platform to put a base of logs to start your fire on. Without this step, the firewood is likely to sink into the top layer of snow, making it difficult for you to start the fire, and keep it going.
Unless you already have a pile of logs gathered for your woodstove, getting firewood may be your biggest challenge. Start by collecting fallen timber. Search various areas of the surrounding woods, and keep track of which areas yield useful wood and which ones provide unburnable bark. Even if the wood is covered in light, fluffy snow, it could still be dry enough to burn. According to The Weather Channel, the fluffy stuff has less moisture content, so the worse the snow is for making snowballs, the better chance you have of finding useable wood. If the snow is heavy and packable, try searching for dry wood under thick vegetation.
Starting the fire
Even slightly damp wood can be difficult to get going, which is why you may need a little extra help in winter. Try using fire starter from a local outdoor store, such as tubes of fire ribbon and tablets made of petroleum. Fallen pine needles, pinecones, and bark can act as great sources of kindling.
Maintaining the fire
Once you have the fire started, you want to be sure to keep it going—otherwise, your popularity among the crowd could slip pretty quickly. Surround the fire with any logs you haven’t used, so the heat of the fire can help dry them out and provide you with an extra stash to add to the fire as the evening moves on.