Anyone who’s sat around a campfire as twilight turns to night knows how easy it is to lose one’s thoughts in a flicker of flame. After all, there’s something about a blazing fire that takes us away from the world and its worries, to a place in our minds that’s primeval and mysterious. Perhaps fire fascinates us because it’s a study in opposites—at once a danger and a source of comfort and light. Whatever it is, those flames have been casting its spell for a very long time.
Philosophical musings aside, most can agree that few things set the mood for an evening of relaxing companionship like a hearty fire. Whether you’re at a campground, cabin, or just chilling around your backyard firepit, a crackling fire is a perfect way to wind down your summer days. Just don’t forget the marshmallows.
Grown-up s’mores can be whatever you want—you’re the adult here, after all, and you make the rules. Experiment with dark or flavoured chocolate, substitute oatcakes or cookies for the graham crackers, or dunk your creation in a salted-caramel sauce. You’re only limited by the number of marshmallows left in the bag. Here’s a recipe to get you started.
1 artisanal marshmallow (because we’re being fancy here)
2 butter cookies (but not shortbread, which will crumble)
1 square cherry-flavoured chocolate (the really expensive kind)
1 tbsp cherry preserves (that’s jam)
Toast marshmallow over an open flame.
Top one cookie with chocolate, artisanal toasted marshmallow, cherry preserves, and the remaining reserved cookie. Eat.
The ingredients of a campfire are simple: heat, oxygen, and fuel. The heat is easily supplied with a lighter or matches, and the oxygen is all around you, so that leaves the fuel.
You’ll need three types: tinder, kindling, and chopped firewood. The tinder should be easy to ignite—paper, leaves, even lint will do. Make a loose pile that can breathe easily, then build your kindling around it. Kindling is smaller pieces of wood, like sticks, branches, or wood chips, that will catch fire easily but burn longer than tinder.
Next, light the tinder in several places, and fan or blow on it to supply more oxygen. As the flames grow and the kindling catches, start feeding it with firewood—carefully, and with smaller pieces first, until the fire’s well on its way. Kick back and enjoy your night by firelight.
For the occasional fire builder, it’s easy to buy firewood in and around St. Albert,
where many stores, supermarkets, and service stations sell it in bags and boxes. A bundle of wood is typically 0.75 cubic feet and sells for under $10. Depending on how big or how long-burning you want your fire to be, five to ten bundles should do for an evening’s fire. Like most things, buying in greater quantities is more economical, and if you’re planning on a lot of fires this summer, bigger might be better.
There’s also composite firelogs, which are available at many stores. Made from sawdust and wood waste cut into log shapes, firelogs are arguably a greener alternative, as they burn longer and more efficiently than firewood, and give off less carbon monoxide. A six-pack of three-hour logs typically costs between $15 and $25.
In St. Albert, installing and using a firepit on your city lot requires written approval from the Fire Chief (or designate). Before installation, a permit application has to be submitted, as well as a drawing of the design and placement of the firepit. On private property in the city, firepits must be in the backyard, no less than three metres from property lines, structures, and vegetation. The construction also has to follow some strict guidelines and measurements, all of which can be found on the City’s website. Fires can only be used for cooking and warmth, and only clean dry wood can be used as fuel (In other words, no pallet fires in your backyards please). t8n