How to Design an Outdoor Rock Firepit

How to Design an Outdoor Rock FirepitCamping outdoors and campfires seem to go together. It's pleasant to gather around a firepit as evening chill settles over a camp, to tell stories or plan the next day's adventures. But fire in the outdoors is a serious business and it is important to design and build a safe fire pit to protect yourself and the natural setting you are visiting from damage. Before considering a camp fire in the wilderness, be sure to check area regulations to see if any open flame or campfires are allowed. When fire pits are allowed it is important to select your campsite with building a fire pit in mind.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Camp shovel
  • Rocks
  • Bucket of water
Step 1
Select a fire pit location that is close to your tent or camp. Keep at least 8 to 10 feet away from your tent. The ground should be clear of brush, grasses, leaves or other flammables. It should not be under an overhanging tree limb. It should not be on top of exposed tree roots. Limbs and roots can easily catch fire and turn a campfire into a wildfire. Make sure the prevailing breeze doesn't blow smoke back into your camp.
Step 2
Search the surrounding area for rocks that are approximately football size. Use your shovel to turn rocks over as rocks can be habitats to many creatures including snakes, scorpions and spiders. Collect enough rocks to form a circle at least 3 to 4 feet across.
Step 3
Draw a circle where the pit is to be built. Dig 6 inches beneath the soil of the circle and pile the dirt to the side (you will return it later). The best soil for a fire pit is sand, gravel or dirt.
Step 4
Arrange the rocks around the fire pit so that they touch and so that they will contain any burning wood inside the pit. You can also arrange a portion of the fire pit to accept a grill, if you intend to cook over the campfire. Use flat-topped stones on three sides so that the grill will sit flat.
Step 5
Keep a bucket of water adjacent to the fire in case an ember escapes or if the fire spreads. Place the shovel in the dirt pile so that it can be quickly used to throw dirt on a fire to smother it.
Step 6
Quench the fire thoroughly before breaking camp and cover the fire pit ashes with the piled dirt. Double check that the fire is completely extinguished and the area restored prior to leaving the camp. It may be necessary to leave warm stones in place; if so, bank cool dirt around them. Do not put leaves or other combustible material over the fire pit dirt. If the fire pit stones are cold they can be returned to more natural locations.

Tips & Warnings

Learn about the best wood to burn in the area where you will be camping. Some woods are explosive when burned and are not allowed as firewood.
Do not build or use a fire pit if conditions are windy.

Article Written By F.R.R. Mallory

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.

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