Taking Inventory: Campfire


I shouldn’t really play favourites with items, but of all the things that we’ve added in recent patches, our item of the week is definitely one of the best. It’s just so useful! It’s the campfire.

Campfires were added in version 1.14 – the Village & Pillage update. They generate naturally in taiga and snowy taiga villages, but they’re pretty easy to make – you just need three logs, three sticks, and a single lump of coal or charcoal. That puts them right at the bottom of the tech tree – you can make them from almost the very start of the game.

The reason why campfires are one of my favourite items is that they do so much. First, they’re a source of light – giving out a light level of 15, and melting snow out to three blocks around the fire.

Second, you can cook on them! Right click up to four raw food items on the fire, and they’ll appear around it, cooking simultaneously. After 30 seconds, the cooked version will pop off ready to be collected. Cooking with no fuel! Not bad at all.

Third, you can use them as signals to find your way home. Campfires make a pillar of smoke, which floats up about ten blocks. Useful. BUT – if you put a campfire on a hay bale it then turns into a signal fire, and the smoke floats up 24 blocks instead. 

Want to lie low and temporarily conceal your presence? You’ve got two options. Either bash out the fire with a shovel, temporarily extinguishing it until you light it again. Or place a trapdoor (which can even be redstone-controlled) above the fire, which will block all the smoke until it opens again.

The final use of campfires was added in the recent Buzzy Bees update, version 1.15. Putting a campfire under a beehive or bee nest lets you harvest honey without the risk of being attacked by the hive’s inhabitants. Safety first!

Real world campfires are pretty similar to the ones in Minecraft. They give off light and warmth, they’re used for cooking, they serve as beacons, and they also scare off insects and predators. Real-world beekeepers even use smoke to calm bees when they’re harvesting honey.

We’ll probably never know when the first campfire was lit by humans, but it was a very long time ago. Archaeological evidence of burned bones in a cave on the edge of the Kalahari Desert shows that humans were already cooking prey by campfire as far back as 1.9 million years ago.

Back then, as today, campfires probably served as a place for communities to gather for food, conversation, storytelling, and songs. So next time you put down a campfire in Minecraft, consider singing a little song to mark the occasion. “And it burns, burns, burns.... The campfiiiiire....”

Duncan Geere
Written By
Duncan Geere