How to Put Out a Campfire

How to Put Out a Campfire

Many of us love to go camping, but while doing so, don’t necessarily understand the importance of knowing how to put out a campfire. In fact, something unknown to many campers is that humans are the direct cause of 85 percent of wildfires in the United States.

The reason being? Many campers don’t understand the importance of putting out a campfire after using their best camping cookware, and instead, end up leaving them unattended. While sitting around a smoldering campfire with family and friends is great, it’s important to know that even just leaving burning coals behind after you leave poses a high risk. The best way to combat this is to douse your campfire with water until the coals are cool to the touch before you leave.

Within this article, I will provide insightful tips and the best practices for maintaining safety protocols on how to properly snuff out the flames of your next campfire.

Make Sure to Douse with Water

Make Sure to Douse with Water
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When you’re done roasting marshmallows using your best ultralight backpacking cookware and enjoying your preferred alcoholic beverage around the campfire, fight the urge to crawl right into your sleeping bag. Even if you’re confident that you’re safe, and you know how to put out a campfire, always plan to let the last log burn down to ash, not coals. If you don’t have time or need to suddenly leave, you can pour water directly onto the flames using the metal bucket you brought with you.

Although this is a good tactic if you have to leave quickly, experts say that it’s better to let the fire burn down on its own, because at that point, it’s easier to tell if the fire has been completely extinguished. Once there are no flames, make sure to take it a step further and drown the embers in water. To do this properly, you’ll need at least two buckets of water, if not more depending on the size of the fire. By the time you’re finished, there should be standing water in the campfire.

If it’s a worst-case scenario and you don’t have any water nearby, don’t panic. You can still pour sand or dirt on the fire until it is completely covered to make sure the fire is extinguished.

Mix the Fire Up, then Douse it Again

To mix the fire up, use your shovel (or a stick) to mix the remaining embers and water. If you still have logs, make sure you spend extra time dealing with them properly by stirring and scraping them to get all of the embers off. When you’ve finished, make sure to rotate the log so that it’s sitting in the mixture of ember water that you’ve created.

Once that’s done, you should pour on the second bucket of water to make sure that you’ve completely soaked the log. If you still hear a hissing sound or continue to see red embers, you should continue to pour water onto the fire until you no longer hear or see these two indications of an ongoing fire.

Your last and final check to determine if the fire is completely out is to feel if there’s any heat left emitting from the pit. To do this safely, hover your hand about four inches above the coals, and if you can still feel the heat with your hand that close, then start the whole process over again.

Always remember, if you know how to put out a campfire, then you know that if the remnants of your campfire are still too hot to touch, then it shouldn’t be left alone.

Observe your Campfire Before you Leave

Experts say that the best practice before leaving is to wait around even until after the last ember has fizzled out. Many say that it’s best to stay with it for even a little longer after that to see if the wind picks up. If the wind has picked up, remember to also look around the area for any glowing embers. Try to enjoy the peacefulness of the dark in your campsite and soak up the view of the night sky in the darkness before going off to bed in your tent.

Double-Check Your Campsite

Always remember to review your campsite multiple times before you leave for stray sparks, embers, and any trash that you may have created whilst visiting that site. Other than accidentally being cautious and taking all the right steps to put out a campfire, we want to also remember to respect nature by not littering.

How to Build a Fire Safely

How to Build a Fire Safely
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One of the first things you should do while considering building a campfire, whether it’s on a camping trip or in your backyard, is to first make sure that it’s allowed in that location on that day. Your local Forest Service office will have up-to-date information on this matter, as will any campground you decide to visit.

A fire ban in your area means that air temperatures, relative humidity, wind speed, or a combination of all three pose a major risk for a wildfire in your area. Even if you know how to put out a campfire, it’s always best to obey the ban; it’s there for a reason. If there isn’t a designated fire pit, it’s always best to bring your own. However, if neither of these options is available to you, don’t build your own.

Putting together your own fire pit can lead to an extremely hazardous situation if done incorrectly. If you’re trying to cook while camping, it’s always good to be equipped with one of your best camping grills in case there is a fire ban.

Make Sure You’re Properly Equipped

There are many ways to build a safe campfire. To start, make sure you have a shovel and a water source nearby when you do. There are many accessories sold at Ace Hardware and many other hardware retail locations that will be a major help for you while building a safe campfire.

The most common are round point shovels, and even foldable shovels if you are tight on space or lack a larger vehicle. To transport water to the fire efficiently, you’ll need a lightweight, sturdy bucket, preferably metal. This way you won’t have to worry about causing any leaks in your bucket that could potentially slow you down from transporting water to the fire in a dangerous situation.

How to Put Out a Campfire: Conclusion

Maintaining safety protocols while building a campfire is one of the most, if not the most, important tasks while camping. Following the steps that have been mentioned in this article such as being properly equipped, dousing your fire in water, and surveying the scene before you leave will ensure that you know how to put out a campfire. I hope you all make sure to practice these safety measures and enjoy safe camping and fire-building experience!

Written by Tallon Haag

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