How to Build a Log-Cabin Council Fire

Summertime and the living is, well, hot—which makes a roaring campfire a bit of a problem. But if you lay the right foundation, you can build a great summer blaze that puts out plenty of light with less heat, burns a long time, and uses smaller pieces of fuel, so you don’t break a sweat hauling huge logs back to camp. The log-cabin council fire is a pyro mash-up of a slow-burning, green-wood log-cabin build on the outside, and a tepee fire that throws out tall flames within.

1. Frame the Walls

Steve Sanford

Choose slow-burning whole green logs of white oak, ash, or birch to build the frame that will hold the tepee sticks upright. Lay four stories of two logs each, starting with pieces about 2 feet long and using smaller logs as you go up.

2. Stoke the Furnace

Steve Sanford

Inside the log-cabin structure, lay your tinder bundle and build a tepee of dry sticks and branches. Some of these pieces should be long enough to emerge from the top of the cabin by about 6 inches. When burning, they’ll supply plenty of light.

3. Top Load

Steve Sanford

Light the tinder inside your tepee, and feed the fire from the top as needed to customize the blaze, like a mood-setting dimmer switch. If the cabin walls start to burn too quickly, douse with water to knock
back the flames.