Amazing campfire hacks…and other camping tips

Feeling a bit Mad Hatter-ish, we’ve decided to make our latest campfire all wrong…but all right. Here’s a weird and novel way to build a campfire by turning it upsidedown.

Plus some random camping and campervan tips & hacks to try out. Let us know if they work for you.

An upside-down campfire
upside down fire

How do we normally build a fire? A bit of paper, some kindling, some bigger sticks, gradually working up to larger logs on top. Well, here’s a quirky-looking way that actually works better! You start off with a base of big logs and work backwards.


The upside down fire technique is a winner. It’s a cleaner burn with far less smoke and better combustion, gives off more heat, needs less tending and uses the embodied energy in wood more efficiently than the tipi-esque fire method.

upside down fire

The wood below the combusting material is getting well heated before it catches fire, which makes for better and more complete combustion of the wood below, which equals less smoke and better coals for cooking on. Oh, and the crowd watching you will turn from sneering to amazed!

Slow start, mighty burn

The first 10 to 15 minutes will be somewhat unspectacular as the fire makes its way through the kindling and the combustion gets going. Soon, though, the flames will be roaring and the fire’s smokeless state will be apparent. Collect whatever bets were placed upon your complete failure, and enjoy your upside-down fire.

This is the advice from Milkwood, an Australian social enterprise that offers training in gardening, beekeeping, natural building, permaculture and regenerative agriculture.

Aha, Australia. That means their upside-down fires are probably just our fires seen from underneath.

Extremely naughty campfire cones

So now your upside-down fire is right for cooking, treat yourself!

For each person, you need an ice-cream cone (go for good quality sugar cones if you can – much nicer than those paper-y things). Make up a box of delicious things. The choice is yours, but there are some options below. If you pack the ingredients separately, of course, people can make up their own perfect combination, adding the ingredients in layers.

  • Broken up pieces of chocolate or chocolate buttons
  • Walnuts or pecans
  • Flaked almonds
  • Brown sugar
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Chips of toffee or butterscotch
  • Banana slices
  • Coconut (desiccated or freshly grated even better)
  • Cherries
  • Sunflower seeds

Fill your cone, wrap in foil and put it on the edge of the campfire, or on a barbecue for a couple of minutes to let the chocolate melt. Naughty, but delicious.

Ants hate cucumber…or do they?

The best way to get rid of ants? Apparently, they don’t have a taste for cucumber.

Leave the peelings in an ant-y area overnight and see if it works for you. Eco-friendly and no nasty chemicals to worry about around kids and pets. But just watch this. We need some scientific testers to report back!

Meanwhile, we have come across another deterrent – good old Dr Bronner’s natural soap (well, you can also use it for everything else too!). 

Have a look at our article on green camping for more on that, and other environmentally friendly ways to camp.

No flies in my drink

Keep the flies out of your wine, beer or fruit juice by putting a cupcake case over the top. Make a small hole in the centre for your straw to stick through.

The easiest floor to keep clean?

We used to like the foam interlocking tiles, but they’re nasty plastic that soon gets dumped in the landfill. Instead, go for a beautiful Green Decore rug.

Lots of colours and sizes and they’re made from recycled plastic. Wash them down, shake them off, roll them up. Use them in the tent, in the awning, on the beach or outside the campervan. Use them at home too.

And a few other hack ideas…

Hang pots and utensils from a belt fastened around a tree

Put a headtorch around a big plastic milk bottle for soft lighting

Easy lighting. An eggbox filled with charcoal. Just put the whole thing on!

While you’re browsing, have a look at our best camp kitchen gadgets and at how to build your own rocket stove.

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