Building an outdoor fire pit while camping is commonly seen, but think about the energy saved by building one in the backyard. Eating food that has been cooked over an open flame has a flavor all its own. No need to pack a camper, a tent, food, clothes, etc. Use these simple steps to build an open fire pit and enjoy hot food and warmth while saving energy.
Building an Outdoor Fire Pit Safely
The most important thing to remember when building a fire pit is to build it away from flammable objects, including overhanging tree limbs, bushes, homes or other building, gas tanks and any other combustible objects. It is ideal to build the fire pit at a minimum of 12 to 15 feet away from flammable or combustible objects.
Select an area to build the fire pit. Gather enough large rocks or stones to enclose a three foot diameter circle. Using a shovel, scrape off the top layer of soil forming a shallow hole. Small rocks or sand can be added to the hole, but isn’t necessary. Next, position rocks around the hole to make a homemade campfire ring. This will keep the wood stable and the fire from spreading.
Wood for Burning in an Open Fire Pit
To build a proper campfire, gather wood of all sizes. Start with small dead twigs and bark. Gather dry leaves, grass, and needles. These materials are called tinder. The tinder is used to start the fire. It is small, dry, and does not need any gasoline, oil, or other dangerous substance to be lit.
Next, gather twigs approximately 1 inch round or smaller. This is called kindling. If enough tinder is gathered it will stay lit long enough to catch the kindling on fire. When burning outdoors, the wood that produces the best heat and the hottest coals for the longest time include maple, ash, hickory, and oak. Gather enough wood to last the entire cooking time.
How to Build a Fire for Cooking to Save Energy
Lay the tinder inside the center of the fire pit. Next, scatter the kindling over the tinder. Do not lay the kindling flat on top of the tinder. Air is needed to circulate to start a fire. Now, lite the tinder and allow the flames to catch the kindling ablaze. When the fire is burning nicely, add another handful of kindling. Wait until the new kindling has caught fire.
Now, begin to add larger pieces of wood. Do not try to add full size pieces of wood right away. It can smother the fire, thus putting it out altogether. Gradually work up to larger pieces that will stay lit longer. It is best to lay the larger pieces in a criss-cross manner to allow for air circulation. This allows for a longer cooking time.
Things to Remember Before Building a Fire
Larger fire pits can be achieved simply by gathering more rocks and making a larger circle. When large rocks cannot be found, stack the rocks higher. Always check local laws about building fires. If the weather has been dry, check to see if there is a burning ban in the area.
Do not try to start a fire in windy conditions. The wind can blow the fire out of the fire pit and could cause a fire somewhere else. Do not cut a tree down expecting to use it to burn immediately. This is called green wood. It will not burn well and needs to be seasoned, or dried out. Never leave a burning campfire unattended. When finished with the fire be sure to put it out completely.
There is a sense of pride when eating food that has been cooked over an open flame. Especially one that has been built with your own two hands. Using a fire pit occasionally or daily will save energy. If sticks or cast iron are used to cook the food there is little or no messy cleanup saving water and detergent as well.