Fire with children

As with all wilderness activities, the following applies: Communicate and follow the rules!

How much children are involved depends on the child’s age and ‘maturity’ to deal with fire.

Basically, lighting a fire in the forest is prohibited in Germany. Therefore, either vacated spaces should be used or meticulous pre- and aftercare should be carried out.

The fireplace should always be carefully selected.


  • You never play with fire!
  • Fire is only lit under adult supervision
  • Pay attention to flying sparks and remove flammable material near the fire (sparks). Build a U-shaped wall as a windbreak in strong winds.
  • Do not light a fire on humus in the forest. Always remove down to the mineral soil and contain with stones
  • On meadows: remove turf

There are different types of fire that serve different purposes.

  • Camp and cooking fires:
  • Pyramid fire (the classic campfire, suitable for bread and grill skewers) -> Here, small branches are arranged around the tinder in a kind of tippi over the tinder, and increasingly thick branches on the outside. A hole for attaching the scale material should be left.
  • Star fire (good for cooking with pots, child-friendly)-> Thicker branches are laid out in a star shape. The trunks meet in the middle. A small ‘tippi’ is built under this center, as with the pyramid fire. If the tippi is on fire, it should be refilled well until the stronger trunks catch fire.
  • Log fire (not very suitable for children, burns long and strong) -> the log fire is constructed like a log cabin. Always two branches opposite, on which branches are then placed across again. The fire is then laid in this ‘chimney’ (see above)
  • Pit fire (more suitable than cooking fire)-> A small log fire is placed in an earth pit. A better move can be achieved if a passage is laid at an angle into the earth (towards the fire) through which air can get to the fire.
  • Small log fire / box fire (easy to ignite, very variable if the air supply is poor, also suitable as a cooking fire because it quickly embers) -> In contrast to the log fire, only two thicker logs are laid parallel to each other as a basis. A layer of thinner branches is then applied transversely to these. The tinder comes to the first layer. So enough air comes to the fire. If the fire is burning, it can be refilled in any form.
  • Cross fire (slow burning, no intense heat) It is constructed similar to the box fire. However, only the first thick branches are parallel. The other thinner branches are laid crosswise and like a star. The tinder is only used in the middle.


Small chips (carve off dead wood: dead wood from still standing trees are more suitable), birch bark, dry moss or grass, seeds with fine hairs, cotton threads or cotton / cotton wool dipped in wax are suitable as ignition material.

Then follow smaller branches and split wood (wooden columns with a carving knife). Notched branches and twigs also work very well

Finally, the large branches and trunks follow.


Always have enough supplies ready. This also applies and in particular to the ignition process.

Set fire:

Lighter and matches only do not work in strong wind (then: storm lighter)

Fire with a magnifying glass works very well when the sun is shining. Place ignition material in a hollow in solid wood (e.g. birch or spruce or in a birch bark) and focus the sunlight. Increase the embers by blowing them lightly and keep the lighting material ready

Ignition steel always works – even when wet. The difficulty is lighting the smoldering fire. Cotton threads or cotton wool as tinder are ideal. Other things like the ignition of a fire with a magnifying glass.


The small log fires / box fires can also be easily lit by children.


Extinguish with water. Check exactly whether there is still embers. The remains must be touchable! Then re-insert the lawn tile or pour soil over the fireplace. caution!! Roots underground can also cause a smoldering fire.

What can the children do and help??

All ages can help to collect and search for firewood.

When building the fire (from small to large), the older children are patient loggers. Small children can also light a match. Lighters and fire steel should be used by adults or teenagers. Children find the use of the magnifying glass very exciting. When the sun is shining, you can also try out the magnifying glass in addition to the regular fire. However, children should not be left alone with this and must understand that playing with fire and magnifying glass can lead to strong forest fires.

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Christina Cherry
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