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Building A Fire Pit

Understanding how to build a fire pit with safety and utility in mind is an important skill in the wilderness or in the woods. From keeping warm in cold weather to cooking food and providing light, building fire pits properly is important to making the most of scarce resources. Three important concepts are described below: safety considerations, construction fundamentals, and accessories/helpful tips.

Safety Considerations When Building a Fire Pit

Select a flat spot away from trees, bushes, dry grass, and anything else that could catch fire.

Also be aware of prevailing winds and select a location sheltered from the wind, to prevent embers from blowing out of the fire pit.

Stay away from overhanging branches and avoid tree roots on the ground that could catch fire.

Clear any flammable debris (leaves, sticks, pine needles, etc.) for at least one meter around the campfire

Build a fire pit on gravel, sand, or bare earth

Keep a bucket of water or a mound of dirt nearby to put out the fire. More info

Campfire Building Basics

Determine the size of the pit based on its intended uses (Is the main use creating light, keeping warm, or cooking food? How many people will be using the fire?) An 8-inch diameter is often enough for one to three people.

Dig out a bowl-shaped depression that is 4-8 inches deep in the center (this helps protect and concentrate the embers, allowing your fire to burn bright and hot with less smoke)

Use stones to make a ring of fire (this also helps protect and focus your fire) Caution: do not use rocks that have been submerged in water, as they can explode when heated. A stone fire pit also retains and radiates heat.

Accessories and useful tips

Incorporate a heat reflector – You can use a natural feature like a large rock or embankment as a “heat reflector” to prevent heat from escaping your fire pit area and further protect the fire from wind. Heat reflectors can also be created by building a small wall out of stones or logs.

Designate a cooking area within the fire pit – you can shape your fire ring to have a small protrusion for cooking food. The coals can be brought to this place for cooking, while the main fire can continue to burn, providing light and warmth. Embers cook food much more effectively than flames.

Drying Wood: Damp wood can be stacked around your fire pit in an “eagle’s nest” shape. Be sure to check that the wood dries out this way so it doesn’t catch fire.

Wood Selection: The small branches of softwoods provide the best ignition for starting a fire, although once the fire is established, seasoned hardwoods burn hotter and brighter with less smoke. Examples of hardwoods include oak, maple, and cherry. Also, make sure your wood is dead and dry. Wet or green (live) wood burns very smoky or often doesn’t burn at all.

Eleena Wills
Eleena Wills
Hi, I’m Eleena Wills. Being a writer and blogger, I strive to provide informative and valuable articles to people. With quality, constructive, and well-researched articles, one can make informed choices. I cover a wide range of topics, from home improvement to hair styling and automotive.
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