How to MacGyver a Campfire: Starting a Fire with a Coke Can and Other Fireside Tips

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Generally, if there’s any hope for me to start a fire while braving the great outdoors, I need one of two things: my pyro-expert of a younger brother or a fire-breathing dragon. But for those times when my brother isn’t there and my dragon’s just not in the mood, having some surefire ways to a sure fire will definitely come in handy.

Here are some tips on what do to if you find yourself in need of a campfire in any of the following scenarios.

Scenario 1: You’re just really in the mood for s’mores.

What You Need:
-Logs, branches, twigs, paper, flammable things
-Lighter or matches

Say you have optimal weather conditions and all the right tools -- you just don’t know what to do with them. This manual to structuring your campfire tells you how to set up your supplies to make the perfect fire using the teepee method, arranging your sticks to form a teepee and lighting the kindling inside, or the cabin method, creating a square of stacked logs with the lit tinder in the middle.

This video utilizes both techniques creating the ultimate marshmallow-roasting machine:

Scenario 2: You’re really in the mood for s’mores, but it just rained.

What You Need:
-Small pieces of wood, wood with bark that is easily peeled, or trees with oily wood (like pine)
-Lighter or matches

This guide recommends you find tree bark that is easily peeled, like birch, as the inside layers are normally dry, making fire-starting easier. The oils and sap from trees also catch fire easily and can make starting your post-rain campfire less stressful.

Scenario 3: Still want those s’mores, but you forgot the matches.

What You Need:
-Lots of patience

While my next step would probably be running to the closest store for a lighter, those of you with the perseverance have a few different options for starting your fire sans matches.

Using Common Items

What You Can Use:
-Steel wool

Check out this how-to on seven different ways to light a fire without a match and with a lot of persistence.

"But what if I want if I have no matches, and I want my s’more NOW," you ask? Well, you can take the quicker, 9-volt and steel wool approach:

Caveman Technique

Here’s a guide to the age-old Fire-with-Sticks style. And if it’s as easy as the guy in this video makes it seem, I’ll never need to use a match again:

Scenario 4: You forgot the matches and the wood, and you have a surplus of junk food.

What You Need:
-Chocolate bar
-Soda can
-Fritos or other corn chips
-Toothpick or small piece of tinder

You were so excited about these s’mores that you forgot the matches AND the wood? Don’t worry. You can always use that empty soda can and chocolate bar to get the fire going. As long as you have a toothpick or some other small piece of tinder, you can use the chocolate-polished Coke can bottom to reflect the sun onto the tinder. Once the tinder is lit, just empty the chip bag and ignite your Fritos to sustain your snack food fire.

Congratulations, cavewoman, you make fire! Now bask in the blaze while enjoying that s’more or any of these campfire foods:

Have you ever given matchless fire-making a shot? What’s your favorite fireside snack? Anyone want to make me a s’more?


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