How to Set Up an Outdoor Fire Pit

How to Set Up an Outdoor Fire Pit
You may find yourself ready to fire up your backpacking stove at the end of a long hike and discover you are either out of fuel or the stove has become inoperable. You will have to set up a fire pit to cook over, but this must be done with utmost care to prevent an unmanageable fire. Using a fire pit to contain your campfire will keep your fire safe and from accidentally catching the woods on fire. The basic design for a portable fire pit is quite easy and you should have yours ready for use in no time at all. Gathering the proper materials and keeping the flame low are necessary precautions.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Search for a safe area to prepare the fire pit. Never start a pit in a meadow where sparks can easily ignite a grass fire. Be aware of hanging branches, particularly late in the season if the plant material is dry and easily combustible. If a water source is nearby, the shore is the best place to build your pit.
Step 2
Clear an area of all brush or fallen leaf material, leaving only an earthen floor to work with. You should have an area at least six feet in diameter cleared before building your pit. If you are making a fire on a shoreline, the underlying gravel is a good, safe spot for building a fire. You will need to clear a level spot down to the gravel in order to have a flat spot to build the fire on.
Step 3
Dig out a small pit in the ground and line the rim with rocks. If you are not traveling with a shovel, use a flat rock or stick to help loosen the soil. The higher you can build the rock wall the better, because this will prevent wind from getting into the fire and blowing sparks into the surrounding area.
Step 4
Keep a full water bottle nearby in case the flames begin to jump or spark. Do not build your fire so high that it becomes unmanageable. A massive flame could be difficult to contain. Use only small branches and twigs to burn and feed the fire occasionally instead of all at once.
Step 5
Cover and soak the fire when you are finished with it. Soak the firewood and cover the area with dirt or sand and wet down the area a second time. Never leave hot embers exposed or walk away from a burning fire when you are in the woods.
Step 6
Leave no trace and break up your fire ring in the morning before you leave. Scatter the rocks and fill in your pit. This is also a good opportunity to ensure that warm coals aren't lingering behind.

Article Written By Nikki Jardin

Nikki Jardin began freelance writing in 2009 and focuses on food and travel articles. She has been a professional cook and caterer for more than 20 years. She holds a degree in environmental science from Humboldt State University.

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