Nowadays bonfire, even in your personal property, is prohibited in the most of cities in Japan. This makes the bonfire at campsite so unusual and special activity.
Time you spend simply watching the fire is right. It is obvious that any alcohol or coffee or mulled wine is so tasty. It is so comfortable growing bonfire at quiet night, and fire reflects the calmness of your mind.
I believe that for a lot of people, bonfire must be a main purpose of camping.
Well, you need various gears to make a fire, but what you need most is firewood. Here in Japan, it is common to buy them at the campsite or stores which are equivalent to Walmart or The Home Depot. If you own property or your occupation is forestry then you may be able to provide firewood by your own.
As many of you know, there are two kinds of firewood in general: coniferous trees and broad‐leaved trees. The coniferous trees such as pine or cypress burn easily, quickly, and strongly. On the other hand, broad‐leaved trees are to get lit. Once they started burning then they burn such a long time.
I help manage and build the mountain bike courses as a volunteer so that I have the opportunities to cut down the broad‐leaved trees with a permission. And the local government sometimes informs to cut the trees down in the parks around my house for the safety purpose. When I find out it then I go to the park and ask them to see if I can take some of the chopped trees. These are the ways for me to get trees for firewood.
As soon as I get those woods, I split them with an ax at my backyard and let the dry for a couple of years. I am not sure if it is way too much to work with my ax just for the camping, but it sure is a great exercise though. Even though I don’t own the fireplace, I do own the shelves with the loads of firewood just for camping.
Lighting wood may be a bit hard for beginners. Once you get used to it then it should be any problem, yet sometimes it just doesn’t work depending on the situation or circumstance. Hey, don’t worry. We gotta the firelighters. Throw it in to the firewood and light it up. It gets job done.
What I do for lighting is that first of all, I pick up some dead pine leaves when I go to mountain. It is so common that pine trees are planted every mountain in Japan. Then I collect small branches I find in my backyard.
Let’s make a small pile of the dead pine leaves and top off with branches. It seems that the oil is contained in pine leaves so that they start burning right after lighting. If you see the fire gets the certain size then add larger branches or small firewood concerning the spaces between firewood for the better air supply.
I happen to see some campers use papers as the firelighter which I would not recommend doing so. Because papers are so light that even the soft breeze may make the lit papers fly away. It is very dangerous and even bother neighbors.
Firewood become the small pieces of charcoal and it is a sign of wrapping up the bonfire. Which means it is about a time to dive into your sleeping bag. Wait, you definitely need to extinguish all the charcoals and firewood because it may cause the fire!
I use an aluminum charcoal extinguisher. You dump all the charcoals and firewood into this bucket and close the lid. Once oxygen isolated then they get extinguished quicker than you would think. Don’t throw the cinders! They are so useful for the next bonfire. The cinders are very easy to be lit that adding the cinders to dead pine leaves, small branches is another great idea to start a bonfire.
I highly recommend the use of cinders because it is great way of recycling the resource, and is an easy starter.
at the end
Since I get firewood in compensation for the volunteering, there is no way of choosing the kinds of trees. But they say that some people have strong preferences on firewood. It appears that color and size of flame, smell and so on are the subjects to choose by the picky people.
What is your ultimate firewood?