What does a campfire smell like?

The smell of the campfire is unmistakable. The scent evokes happy memories of camping with your favorite people and a deep sense of connection with nature. 

But what does a campfire smell like and why do so many people love it?

What does a campfire smell like?

Campfire smells like the warm aroma of cooked food and the scent of cedar embers after the flames have died down. It can include notes of bourbon, beer, toasted marshmallows, and spiced hot cocoa. 

What makes the scent of campfire instinctually welcoming? 

To find out, let’s go back and explore the history of campfires, how the ability to build a campfire changed us as people, explore the most popular ways to build a campfire, and how to bring the scent of a campfire into your home and life. 

The history of the campfire:

The history books have recorded the oldest evidence of a campfire in Africa.

Archaeologists found remnants of a campfire, including burnt plants and bones, in a cave in the Northern Cape of South Africa. They found that it was one million years old. 

Evidence of campfires across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia has been found dating back about 400 000 years ago. 

Interestingly, campfires played a significant role in our evolution as humans.

Scientists believe that had people not started making fires, we would not have developed large brains. Cooking food also changed our ‘second brain,’ the gut, by making digestion easier. Researchers found that human guts started shrinking about two million years ago.

Camping and campfires in America

Campfires have cooked food and warmed people around the world. In North America in the 1800s, early cowboys would have warmed their arching bodies in front of a campfire after a long day on horseback. 

Camping was part of a cowboy’s life, but ordinary Americans didn’t experience the wonders of sleeping in nature until it became a reactional activity at the end of the 1860s. 

It’s believed that the pastime of camping was inspired by William H.H. Murray, an outdoorsy minister who started camping in 1864.

He had been documenting his experience hiking and canoeing in New York's Adirondack Mountains for five years when a friend in publishing convinced him to publish his notes as a book.

The book, titled Adventures in the Wilderness, became an unsuspecting bestseller. Within months of being on the market, it inspired between 2000 and 3000 people to go camping in the Adirondack region. And so began America’s love for reactional camping trips (and sitting around the campfire).  

For millions of years, campfires have brought people together.

Stories have been told, and people have danced, sung, cooked, and shared meals in the warmth of a campfire. While the adults talked, the children, with their bellies full, eyes heavy, and bodies warmed by the fire, would doze off to sleep. It’s simple and yet beautiful. 

Today, camping is thriving as a reactional way to spend time with friends and family. A recent survey found that more than 93.8 million North American households considered themselves campers.

In 2021, more than half of American travelers included camping in their vacation plans.

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What draws us to the campfire

Hikers love getting out in nature, but there is something to be said for stepping off the trail, pitching a tent, lighting a campfire, and being emersed in it, rather than passing through it.

Sitting around a campfire gives you a pause, a time to reflect and reconnect with yourself and the people you choose to travel with.  

The scent of campfire reminds us of what we have been missing in our modern and rushed daily lives – the song, the dance, the art, community, and nature. 

The campfire is far from the readymade dinners habitually eaten in front of the TV while simultaneously checking mobile phones. 

The smell of a campfire evokes memories beyond the aroma of burning wood and cooking food.

The campfire smell reminds us of the intimacy of sharing stories, the warm light illuminating happy faces and flickering reflections dancing in their eyes. It's also the sweet sound of the strings of a guitar ringing out and echoing into the dark wilderness beyond as voices rise to sing a song that seems as old as time.  

The campfire takes us back to when people lived in harmony with nature and derived a sense of safety and satisfaction from being part of a tribe. It ignites an inherent desire for a simpler way of life. 

How is a campfire made?

Anyone who prides themselves in building a campfire has their tricks. Here are a few ways to build a campfire like a pro…

Tepee Campfire

The tepee-shaped fire is a classic for a reason - the wide diameter of the circular base allows plenty of oxygen in, which helps get a fire quickly.

Use kindling to form a tepee shape and add larger sticks to the tepee structure as the fire grows.

This kind of fire gets going fast, which is great if you are in a hurry to cook food. Once the wood burns through, you can cook food on the coal bed and feed the fire with twigs to keep it going.

Log Cabin Campfire

The is a square-shaped fire built like a log cabin. You place two pieces of wood parallel to each other, stack two perpendicularly on top, and then stack another two perpendicularly on top of that.  Place the kindling in the center of the structure and light it.

A log cabin fire burns slowly, which is great if you want to relax around the fire with friends for a while.

Star Campfire

Place logs, like the rays of a star, around a small tepee fire. As the fire burns, you can push the logs in towards the tepee fire.

What makes a campfire smell so good?

What makes a campfire smell so good is a mix of things. It’s the place and the people that surround it.

It’s the crispness of lush forest, a cool stream, the warm desert air, or the salty spray of the sea combined with the type of firewood, the kindling, the food cooked on the fire and drinks sipped around it and the people gathered around it.

But the scent of a campfire is more than a list of ingredients. What makes a campfire smell good is the experience of it.

A whiff of that campfire scent takes you back to feeling wild and free sleeping under the stars. It can stir up nostalgia, and deep longing and can inspire plans for new adventures.

What scents pair well with the smell of a campfire?

Our Fire in The Hole range pairs the smell of campfire with gunpowder, sagebrush, and whiskey.

The bold range includes a handmade soap, body wash, lotion, beard oil and hair elixir, air freshener, and cologne. All the products are made by hand with natural oils, natural colors, and a blend of natural and lab scents.

The idea behind the range is to help you celebrate those unforgettable camping trips and your wildest adventures.

Gifting simplified

If you love the scent of a campfire, share it by giving the special people in your life a Fire in the Hole Campfire Gift Set. It includes 2 bars of Fire in the Hole Handmade Campfire Soap or 1 bottle of Fire in the Hole Campfire Natural Body Wash, 1 bottle of Fire in the Hole Campfire Lotion, 1 tin of Fire in the Hole Campfire Solid Cologne, and 1 Fire in the Hole Air Freshener.

Whether your last camping trip was last weekend or last year, the Fire in The Hole will take you back to your best campfire memories and will hopefully inspire you to make many more.

Make your day explode with Fire in the Hole