How to make a realistic indoor campfire

Written by miranda brumbaugh
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How to make a realistic indoor campfire
Pitch a tent next to your indoor campfire for an indoor campout. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

If you love the ambience of a campfire but hate the messy soot or clinging smoke, an indoor campfire is a clean alternative. Change the atmosphere for an indoor camp out or ghost story session by building a fake campfire. Encourage everyone to wear camping attire, such as hiking boots and flannel shirts, and to bring their sleeping bags for an indoor camp out. Toast marshmallows on a stove nearby to fill the air with a familiar camping scent and provide guests with s'mores for a snack.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Black plastic trash bag
  • Black dirt
  • Pine cones
  • Tree limbs, sticks or branches
  • Rocks 6 to 12 inches in diameter
  • Small fan, approximately 4 to 6 inches in diameter
  • Red, orange and yellow cellophane
  • Scissors
  • Roll white gauze
  • Masking tape
  • Fire logs
  • 4 to 7 small flashlights
  • Colander

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  1. 1

    Tear a black plastic trash bag open so you have a large single sheet of plastic. Lay the plastic liner down where you want the campfire. Cover the trash bag with a thick layer of black dirt. Form a rock circle to surround your fire using rocks that are 6 to 12 inches in diameter. Toss pine cones and tree limbs, sticks or branches around the outside of the circle on the dirt to add to the outdoor appearance.

  2. 2

    Cut red, orange and yellow sheets of cellophane into 12 strips ranging from 4 to 12 inches in length that resemble flames. Shred four to six strips of white gauze that are 5 to 10 inches long, which will create faux smoke.

  3. 3

    Turn a small fan that is approximately 4 to 6 inches in diameter so that the fan is blowing upward. Tape one end of the cellophane flames and gauze strips around the circumference of the fan rotating the two materials and varying the sizes.

  4. 4

    Place the fan in the centre of the fire pit and lay two fire logs as close as you can to the fan, one on each side, so they are parallel to each other. Add two more fire logs perpendicular to the first logs to form a square. Place logs in this fashion until you have wood stacked above the fan, which will vary depending on the height of the fan.

  5. 5

    Wrap red, orange and yellow sheets of cellophane over the light cover of four to six small flashlights. Tape the cellophane around the flashlights using masking tape. Insert the covered flashlights in between the fire logs and fan at varying angles toward where the "flames" and "smoke" will rise.

  6. 6

    Crumple red, orange and yellow sheets of cellophane into balls and stuff these in the space between the logs and fan, concealing the flashlights and fan from view to create fire embers.

  7. 7

    Turn the fan on low and turn the flashlights on. Create stars on the ceiling by flipping a colander upside down with an uncovered flashlight lit beneath it. Place the colander at an angle against a nearby wall or prop it up so that the light shines on the ceiling above the campfire. Alternatively, place the colander with the light underneath inside the rock fire pit, if you feel it does not take away from the realistic campfire look.

Tips and warnings

  • You can include a soundtrack of fire crackling or forest animal noises in the background.

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