The first step in building the perfect cooking fire is finding the perfect wood. The ideal wood for cooking fires is dry hardwood. Cutting branches off of live trees will only make your cooking experience more tiresome. Live, green wood will produce a very smoky fire and may release pollution into the atmosphere. If you can't find any dry firewood near your campsite, you may be able to buy some at the campground office or a local general store.
Once you've got your wood you'll need to select the location of your campfire. The best campfire spots are flat, rocky and clear of any bushes or low-lying tree branches. If there's already an established fire pit at your campsite, it's best to use it for your campfire as well. Once you've got your site picked out, try and round up a dozen or so softball-sized rocks and arrange them in a 'U'-shape for your fire pit. If it's windy out, you'll want to be careful to maintain your fire so that windswept ashes don't start another fire elsewhere. As for your fire pit, if you can locate a large rock, place it toward the wind with the rest of the pit behind. This will help your fire get a good start and will funnel the smoke in one direction while you're cooking [source: Eartheasy].
Now that your pit is established, begin laying crumpled paper along the bottom of the pit. Cover the paper with small, thin kindling twigs -- lay them flat across the paper in alternating directions. Start your fire by lighting the paper below the kindling wood, and as the kindling wood catches fire, begin adding the larger pieces of wood and do your best to distribute them evenly. As the fire burns and turns to coals, use a stick to shift some of the coals toward one end or the other, which will make one side of the fire hotter than the other. Once the fire has died down, place a grill across the rocks and get to cooking [source: Eartheasy].
Read the next page to see what kinds of campfire cooking equipment you'll need to pack with you on your trip.