How Much Wood Do You Need For a Campfire?

How Much Wood Do You Need For a Campfire

Wood is an essential part of campfires and using the wrong kind can cause problems. A campfire needs lots of air to burn and if the wood is too wet, it won’t let enough oxygen in. It also takes a lot more time for a big pile of damp firewood to turn into a burning flame than dry pieces do. So, how much wood will you need to keep a fire burning all night long?

Many factors go into deciding how much wood you need for a campfire. Where will you be camping? What time of year is it? Are you trying to keep warm or cook food? How big is your tent? These questions can help determine the size and type of firewood needed, but the best way to decide on an amount is to know what types of fires are possible with different amounts of fuel. Read this article for more information about how much wood do you need for a campfire!

How Do You Buy Wood for Camping?

You can buy wood in bundles or by log. The logs are usually cut into quarters to make them easier to carry and stack, but you don’t need a chain saw when camping so it’s fine if they’re not perfectly sized for your stove. Just break down the pieces with an axe before you leave home so that they fit inside your car or truck without taking up too much space.

How Do You Buy Wood for Camping

Campfire logs are best for cooking fires, no campfires. They’re already cut into exact-sized pieces that fit easily on your stove. In addition, they usually come with lighter fluid to get them started faster and keep the fire going longer. It’s a lot easier than trying to make an ember or using kindling when you’ve got other things on your mind like marshmallows stuck to sticks!

Factors Affecting Your Wood Burn Rate

The size of your wood pieces

Smaller pieces burn faster than larger ones, but they also need more to create a fire. Hot coals from small sticks will be much hotter and last longer than large logs.

Logs should be placed in a crisscross or pinwheel pattern to maximize heat and minimize smoke production. The pieces will burn at different speeds depending on their thickness that causes gaps between them that must be filled with twigs. This is why it’s important for campers to gather smaller kindling before attempting to start the fire. Wood shouldn’t overlap because this could block the oxygen flow necessary for combustion.

Factors Affecting Your Wood Burn Rate - The size of your wood pieces

What about sticks? Sticks can produce significant amounts of ash if burned without air circulation since bark holds sap inside its woody fibers until heated enough to vaporize into flammable steam. To avoid excess by-products, gather sticks of uniform thickness and make sure they are no more than 6 inches in diameter. As for length, wood less than four feet long is easiest to manage when starting a fire so try collecting pieces that size or smaller.

This will depend on how big the fire pit is but generally speaking, five cubic meters of wood should be enough to produce heat for about an hour with medium intensity flames reaching up to three feet high. If your campfire is intended only as warmth during dinner then two or three logs would suffice while eight or ten could last overnight.

Lastly, one good armful can generate 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit worth of decent cooking warmth which means bigger fires require larger collections over multiple trips.

Dryness of the wood

Wet, freshly cut wood won’t burn very well because it doesn’t have any flammable material left in it. Wood that has been left exposed to the elements for a long time will have most of its moisture evaporated and thus burn better.

The density of the wood

Denser woods like oak will not only produce more heat per pound than other kinds but also last longer as they are harder to completely burn up so if you need a fire for warmth or cooking checks out some logs from your local lumber yard before heading into nature.

BTU rating

The BTU rating of the fire is how much heat it produces. An average-sized campfire has a 12,000 BTU rating. The bigger your woodpile gets, the more you can expect to get out of that amount though. You might need about 20 pounds per hour for cooking and warmth if there are eight people around the fire all day long. Most backyard fires should be able to last between three and five hours with two logs every 30 minutes during its peak burning time at night or on cold days when no one wants to move off their butts from around it!


A campfire needs three elements to keep burning all night long without being constantly tended to oxygen, fuel, and heat. The more air that can get into a fire under the right conditions means there’s more oxygen available for combustion which will make the fire hotter. This is especially important when building fires with kindling or smaller sticks since most airflow gets stopped up around larger pieces of wood where they cross each other or are stacked together too tightly. It’s also why teepee-style fires need to have a small opening at their base.

In some fires, the heat from the flame will become trapped in a pile of wood and actually cause it to smolder rather than burn completely. This is why you try not to overstuff your fire with too much wood so there’s room for flames on all sides – it’ll stop this problem from happening as often. You can also help prevent this by making sure that each piece of wood being added has an open spot around it where air can circulate freely since oxygen is what feeds even tiny embers until they catch hold again.

Hardwood vs. Softwood

The most common softwoods used for firewood are red pine, white pine, and Douglas fir. Soft hardwoods include yellow birch, sugar maple, balsam poplar, or cottonwood.

Hardwoods that have a low density but aren’t messy when burned tend to be the best choice for campfires because they produce less smoke than other woods yet still give you enough heat energy to cook food over it. This includes hickory, pecan, and any fruit tree wood like apple or pear (which may also have slightly different flavors of smoky sweetness imparted by their fruits). Other good choices are walnut groves after nuts fall in autumn as well as black cherry trees that often grow in damp soil conditions.

Hardwood vs. Softwood

Hardwood burns hotter and longer than softwood. The density of the wood affects how long it will burn, with denser woods like oak burning for a longer period of time compared to pine or cedar that is less dense.

A hardwood such as maple has around 20% more heat energy per pound when burned than does a softwood like pine. This means you can get approximately 20% more warmth from burning one cord of sugar maple firewood compared to the burning of a cord of southern yellow pine firewood.

Softwood usually is less dense, giving off more smoke and not as much heat. For example, a cord of red pine weighs about 3900 lbs., while a cord of hard maple weighs only 3450 lbs., so you will need to burn almost 25% more softwood than if you used hardwood.

However, the density isn’t always indicative of how good it will be for firewood: some species like black locust or pecan are very dense but don’t make great firewood because they produce too many sparks when burned (known as “messy” woods). Thus it’s important to look at other factors besides just the weight per volume.

Hardwood vs. Softwood Comparison in How Much Wood Do You Need For a Campfire

In general, hardwood has a higher ratio of heat energy to weight, and thus a greater overall BTU rating.

In addition, hardwood also has less moisture than softwood does (which is why it’s easier to light). This means that the amount of water vapor escaping as you burn each piece will make your fire hot enough for cooking or warmth without producing as much smoke as burning pine would.

Softwoods like pine can produce up to 20% more creosote buildup in chimneys compared with other types of wood due to their high sap content: this could lead then cause problems such as poor draft and dangerous carbon monoxide concentrations inside homes. As well, they tend to give off large amounts of sparks when burned, creating safety hazards.

Using hardwood instead of soft can mean that you’ll get more warmth from each fire along with being better for cooking if you have a grill or frying pan over your campfire!

Usage Requirement

A campfire can be used for cooking food, warmth and to provide light in the dark. If you are planning on using fire it is important to know how much wood or other fuel sources (e.g., charcoal) that you need for your fire based on its purpose, size, and location.

Usage Requirement in How Much Wood Do You Need For a Campfire article

A good rule of thumb when trying to figure out how much wood you will need is about one arm-length log per hour. However, this may vary depending upon several factors including the type of wood (softwood versus hardwood), moisture content (dry versus green/wet), wind conditions, etc.

How Much Wood Do You Need for a Campfire?

There’s a common rule of thumb that says one armload is enough, which generally works for most campfires. However, the amount you need depends on several factors including:

  • The size and age of your firewood pile (the older it is, the denser it becomes);
  • How big you want your fire to be (it needs to have room for airflow) – If there are any other obstacles in its way such as rocks or tree stumps;

However, if you have a good supply of wood and don’t mind making several trips back to your house or truck for more, it’s not a bad idea to err on the side of caution.

How Much Wood Do You Need for a Campfire Guide for Beginners

It takes about 20 full-sized logs (approximately one cubic foot each) stacked in an armload to get three feet high worth of firewood.

So if you’re trying to make a pile that’s around four feet wide, two feet deep, and three feet tall, then aim for 40 pieces of kindling (which is usually sold by weight).

Which Wood to Avoid?

Does it matter what kind of wood? Yes, because different woods create unique flame patterns and heat outputs. For example, oak is known to burn longer but also produce more soot than other varieties like maple or ash that can be moderate producers with little by-products such as smoke and creosote (a combustible residue that forms when wood burns).

One popular method for determining the value of a particular type is through its Rottenness Index where softer woods are considered lower quality while those closer to five pounds per cubic foot based on density will typically make better firewood choices.

For example, cedarwood is very flammable but also has a unique smell. For these reasons, it is not recommended for campfire use. Avoid using pine as well because of its sap and tendency to give off an overpowering smoke with little heat value.

Tips to Make You Master of the Campfire

  • You should have about 2 inches worth of space between your firewood and the last coal ember at the bottom – this allows fresh oxygen to flow through from below as well as above so that no part is smothered and suffocated by ash or fumes;
  • Wood needs air to properly combust so only choose sections that are smaller than your hand for optimum efficiency;
  • Create a level bed of coals. Ensure you have a nice, even layer of coals before placing the wood on top for burning. Ideally, there should be about two inches worth of space between your firewood and the last coal ember at the bottom – this allows fresh oxygen to flow through from below as well as above so that no part is smothered and suffocated by ash or fumes;
  • Use small pieces. You do not need huge logs that will take forever to burn – these just cause longer periods where heat is lost while they smolder down into themselves. If it can’t fit in your hand then don’t use it! Wood needs air to properly combust so only choose sections that are smaller than your hand for optimum efficiency;
  • Loose, dry wood is best. Keep the moisture level in your firewood down to a minimum or else it will not burn well and could also cause others around you to be at risk of catching on fire too. If possible, try choosing pieces with bark on them as this can act like kindling when dried out but if they are still damp then avoid using these altogether so that you don’t end up with an unsatisfactory campfire experience;

Tips to Make You Master of the Campfire

Wet wood should not be used in campfires since water does not easily evaporate at normal atmospheric conditions leading to dampened flames. However, if you’re stranded in the wild for days then it can be used to build smoky fires that produce less heat but last twice as long.


How much wood do you need for a 2-hour fire?

The amount of wood needed for a two-hour fire is kindling, four to five pieces per person. One pound of hardwood will yield about one hour of heat.

How long will a bundle of wood last?

A bundle of wood will last approximately 30-40 minutes. However, all fires burn differently and you should use your best judgment to determine how long a campfire is needed.

How much wood is in a face cord?

A face cord is a stack of firewood that measures two feet high and eight feet long. A standard length for pieces in the cord would be 16 inches, which means one piece will measure four inches across. Since this measurement includes bark, you should subtract about an inch from the stated measurements to get your true volume of wood when it’s chopped down to size. This means there are approximately 24 pieces or 192 cubic feet in a full-size face cord.

How much is a night of firewood?

The price of a night of firewood can vary from place to place. In general, it is between $20 and $40 per cord.

What is the most common firewood?

Wood is the most common fuel for campfires. The type of wood you use will depend on availability and location as well as personal preference. Some people prefer to use only wood found in their local area. Other people choose to use wood found in their area mixed with some “exotic” wood, like pine.

What wood burns longest?

Since different types of wood have varying chemical compositions, their burning times vary. In general, hardwoods tend to burn longer than softwood. However, some exceptions might work better in certain situations depending on the fire you want to make.

Useful Video: How to Pick Wood for a Campfire?