How To Light A Campfire In ARK: Survival Evolved

While it may not be the most exciting engram to unlock, there are few things in ARK you’ll use more than the basic campfire. It’s a great source of heat and light at the base, on long treks, and in isolated outposts that you use for hunting or gathering. Since it’s such a low cost to make and use, it’s a reliable fallback ready to assist you in your survival goals at any time. Once you’ve crafted the campfire, you must light it to make it worthwhile. 

What is the Campfire in ARK?


The campfire is one of the first engrams you can unlock in ARK: Survival Evolved. It becomes available at level 2 and only takes three engram points to unlock. When you’re a fresh survivor with few items and little access to food or heat, the campfire can help keep you alive. It makes a hostile world just a little less hostile.

The campfire has three item slots, at least one of which you need to use for fuel. You can also put food in a slot to cook it, and the cooked meat will appear in an empty slot. When the fuel burns, coal is created and will take up another place in the fireplace. 

You can cook most meat in the campfire, from prime meat to basic fish. If you add two stacks to the campfire, it should be able to cook two different meat types at once too.

Are There Any Upgrades for the Campfire?

The campfire is an essential item that can’t be upgraded. However, unlocking the campfire enables you to unlock engrams for things that will perform similar tasks, often more efficiently.

As far as the campfire goes, you’ll use the same one when you’re wearing Tek armor to battle rexes that you do when you’re dressed in cloth armor and killing dodos with spears.

Lighting a Campfire in ARK

To get the campfire lit, you need to craft it, add the right fuel, and start it up. Understanding each step of the process will help you get it done before the cold and lack of food catches up with you, and you find yourself respawning fresh. 

Gather the Fuel and Items

Before you start working on the campfire, gather what you need to make and fuel it.

  • Stone is needed to create the campfire. You can get stones in two ways: use a pickaxe or ax on rocks or pick them up from the ground. A pickaxe is much more efficient and will quickly net the stone you need.
    However, wandering around and clicking while looking at the ground to gather stones without a tool might be more accessible at the beginning of the game. Save extra stone even if you don’t need it because it’s used to make sparkpowder. 
  • Flint is also required to build a campfire and doesn’t work as fuel. However, it’s an ingredient in another type of fuel that will help your campfire burn more efficiently. If you get extra flint, save some to try making sparkpowder. 
  • Thatch can be found in trees. If you want to maximize the amount of thatch you get per click, use a pickaxe instead of an ax. Use thatch for both campfire creation and fuel.
  • Wood also comes from trees. Use an axe to get more wood than thatch. It can be used for building the campfire and fueling it.

It’s easy to become over-encumbered quickly when gathering heavy items like wood and stone. Keep an eye on how much space you have in your inventory and whether you’re approaching the limits of what you can carry. It’s frustrating to ditch precious materials that took time to gather because you can’t get back to your campsite with everything.

Build the Fire

The campfire itself has to be crafted from easy-to-obtain items. You can make it directly in your inventory, bypassing the need for any crafting bench.

  1. Place 16 stone, 12 thatch, two wood, and one flint into your inventory. You can substitute fungal wood for wood if desired. They have the same effect, and using one instead of the other won’t make any difference in the final product. flint-stone-thatch-wood
  2. Open your inventory and select the Crafting Tab.inventory
  3. Click the Campfire engram. It will start to craft, and you can track the progress below your inventory area. 
  4. Place the newly-made campfire into one of your hotbar spaces. 
  5. Click the corresponding button to place the campfire. It should appear as a temporary image until you choose the positioning and click again. The campfire will appear in the space selected and disappear from your inventory.

Now your campfire is ready to go. All that’s left is to add fuel and get the fire burning. 

Light the Fire

You interact with the campfire like most machines or items in the game. Once you’ve loaded it with fuel, you still need to activate it to light the fire.

  1. Look at the campfire and select the Use button.
  2. Select Access Inventory.
  3. Drag the Fuel of your choice into an empty slot on the campfire.
  4. Click Light Fire. If you look at the campfire’s inventory, it should be in the Structure menu in the center of your screen.
  5. You can leave the menu, look at a campfire loaded with fuel, and click Use to start it up quickly. The option won’t appear if there isn’t enough fuel in the inventory.

The fire will burn until the fuel runs out or you manually turn it off. You should turn the fire off when you’re not using it because it will burn through the fuel for no purpose. 

What Types of Fuel Are Best for an ARK Campfire?

Campfires in ARK can use four kinds of fuel. What’s best depends entirely on you.

  • Thatch burns for 7.5 seconds per unit. In other words, you would get 75 seconds of campfire burn time if you put in ten pieces of thatch.
  • Wood burns for 30 seconds per unit, netting 300 seconds of burn time for ten pieces of wood.
  • Sparkpowder burns for one minute per unit, netting you 10 minutes of burn time for ten units of sparkpowder.
  • AnglerGel burns for 4 minutes per unit, giving you 40 minutes of burn time for ten units of AnglerGel.

Early in the game, cheap fuel sources like thatch and wood are the easiest to get and maintain. However, they also burn much faster than Sparkpowder or AnglerGel.

If you’re trying to light bonfires to attract attention or light paths, things like AnglerGel are much more helpful because you don’t have to replenish fuel constantly. If you’re using it for heat in an icy area, wood and sparkpowder are better than thatch because they’ll burn longer and offer you more security.

Wood and thatch are the way to go if you’re just using the fire to heat food. They don’t burn long, but they’re plentiful and easy to load into the fire in bulk. 

What Other Heat Sources Can I Use in ARK?

Now that your campfire is going consider other heat and light sources that might fit your purposes better. Depending on your goals and playstyle, you might try to focus on unlocking these specific engrams before others if they’d be helpful for you. 

These are some options you might want to consider in the base game.

  • The Cooking Pot can cook more than just meat. You can make kibble, food, skins, dye, and soap, as long as you have the engrams and ingredients. The recipes you make in the Cooking Pot are more complicated but may offer additional benefits over fulfilling your hunger. It uses the same fuel sources as the campfire.
  • The Stone Fireplace doesn’t let you cook food, but it does warm the space in which it’s installed. It uses the same fuel as the campfire. 
  • The industrial grill lets you cook large amounts of food at once. It requires gasoline to run.

If you have access to Primitive Plus, here are some other options.

  • The big campfire is like an upgraded campfire that runs on the same fuel types in addition to the firewood from Primitive Plus. It can make some of the recipes available in Primitive Plus that aren’t in vanilla ARK. 
  • The Big Bonfire cooks three times as fast as a basic campfire in vanilla ARK. It uses the same fuel sources as the big campfire and has six item slots.

These options give a savvy survivor various choices about staying warm and fed at any point in the game. However, understanding how to quickly craft and fuel a basic campfire is knowledge that will almost certainly come in handy as you traverse the wilds. 

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