No Campfire? No Problem!

Sep 8, 2021News

Recently, the MNDNR has eased restrictions on campfires in their facilities and that’s good news for that fall camping trip (See current regulations here). Unfortunately, this may not be the last drought and increased burning restrictions may become the norm. Here’s the MN Trails tutorial on how to craft your own, portable ersatz campfire with stuff you may have around the house already.

Here’s What You Need

  • Two  sheets of 8.5 x 11″ craft paper (one yellow, one red)
  • A  5-inch diameter USB fan
  • Power bank 
  • Red ribbon (10 feet should do)
  • Scissors
  • Adhesive tape
  • Marker
  • Tape measure
  • Bicyle tail light
This is a tutorial on how to build your own portable ersatz campfire with stuff you probably have laying around the house

Step One

Draw  flame shapes on the paper and cut them out. You should end up with four pieces. If you’re feeling crative, skip the drawing step and dig right in with the scissors. 

This is a tutorial on how to build your own portable ersatz campfire with stuff you probably have laying around the house

Step Two

Tape the resulting paper “flames” into two rings as shown, alternating yellow and red, then slip the rings inside one another, again alternating yellow and red, and tape them together. You’ll end up with something resembling a crown.

This is a tutorial on how to build your own portable ersatz campfire with stuff you probably have laying around the house

Step Three

Cut pieces of ribbon to about 8″ long.

This is a tutorial on how to build your own portable ersatz campfire with stuff you probably have laying around the house

Step Four

 Tie ribbon pieces on the grille of the fan. Make sure the tied ends don’t touch the fan blades. Turn the fan on and check how the ribbon moves in the air. You may have to uncurl or shorten the ribbon to make it move better in the breeze.

This is a tutorial on how to build your own portable ersatz campfire with stuff you probably have laying around the house

Step Five

Slip the paper crown over the fan and tape down, if necessary. Now’s the time to test how the ribon and paper move once the fan is on. Adjust by trimming or straightening ribbon and paper.

This is a tutorial on how to build your own portable ersatz campfire with stuff you probably have laying around the house
This is a tutorial on how to build your own portable ersatz campfire with stuff you probably have laying around the house

You’re Done!

Grab a friend, go camping and bask in the (smokeless) glow of your ersatz campfire. We tested this thing out on our trip to La Salle Lake State Rec Area. It’s not quite the same, but on the upside, your marshmallows won’t catch on fire. The bike tail light will make for a nice, fiery glow.

This is a tutorial on how to build your own portable ersatz campfire with stuff you probably have laying around the house
Warming your feet by the flames is fun. Unfortunately this is an ersatz fire made to resemble a real one.

A Word About Fire Safety

While building your own quasi-fire may give you and your camping neighbors a good chuckle, wildfires do not. Here’s what the DNR says about fire safety:

  • Think before you strike. Check the burning restrictions for your area before lighting a campfire.
  • Select a level spot a safe distance away from trees, low overhead branches, shrubs, dry grass, or logs to prevent the fire from escaping, and clear all combustibles within 5 feet.
  • Have a shovel and water available at the campfire site for extinguishing campfires.
  • Supervise the fire at all times. Even a light breeze could cause the fire to spread.
  • Extinguish the campfire with water using the “drown and stir” method.

You can find more info at smokeybear.com

 

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I’m Jan, the publisher of Minnesota Trails Magazine. I’m looking for that one trail, the next ride, a new discovery and other reasons never to sit still in Minnesota.

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