How to Put out a Campfire Safely

How to Put out a Campfire Safely

Camp fires are an important part of a camping experience. You can cook loads of enjoyable foods, roast marshmallows, sit around gazing at the stars, chat and enjoy the outdoors with the warmth of the fire…and so on.

I’ve covered how to build campfires, as well as meals and other things to do once you have a strong fire burning.

But knowing how to put out a campfire safely is equally, if not the most important part of running a camp fire.

In this article, I cover how to safely extinguish a campfire with either water or loose dirt. As well as some additional safety tips everyone should be aware of.

Putting out a Campfire with Water

Everyone knows that water and fire don’t mix. If you have enough spare water to completely disguise the fire it’s always a safe way to do so.

Before you go ahead and throw some water on the fire please read the following:

Pour Water over the Fire

Standing to the side of the fire and at a safe a distance as possible pour some water slowly over the fire.

Be careful not to inhale the smoke as the water hits the hot wood or coals. There may be some hot steam and spray back too, so don’t rush pouring the water over.

Spread the Embers and Ashes

Using a long stick poke at the ashes and embers to break them up and move them around a little.

You may see some pockets of heat and red spots as you’re doing this. Break it all, otherwise, there is a chance a fire can reignite later.

Pour More Water over the Area

Even if the area where the fire was looks completely out you should still pour some more water over the ashes to be sure.

Soak the area thoroughly so there is no risk of hot embers catching alight again.

Check the Heat

After a few minutes check the ashes to see if they are still retaining heat. The best way to do this is by putting your hand near the ashes, there shouldn’t be any risk of burning yourself but don’t touch them.

If you can still feel some warmth coming off the ashes stir them around again with a stick like you did earlier on.

Putting out a Campfire with Dirt

If you don’t have enough water to put out a fire then dirt can be just as good, or if you have sand this is even better. Here is what you need to do:

Wait as Long as Possible for the Fire to Die Out

The longer you can leave the fire to burn out naturally the better. Using dirt isn’t as quick as the water method above, so plan ahead.

Spread the Embers and Ashes

Use a long stick or a tool like a shovel or fork to break up all the embers and ashes and spread them around.

Depending on how long the fire has been burning you may see some hot embers still in the firepit, break them all up and disperse the heat.

Shovel Dirt or Sand into the Embers

A shovel makes this part easier, but if all you have are your hands then it’s time to get dirty. Throw dirt into the fire pit a handful at a time and start mixing it into the ashes.

If you just throw dirt on top and leave it there is still a chance the fire can reignite later. Give it a good mix around.

Check the Heat

Just as you would with any other method of putting out a fire you need to check the ashes when you’re done to make sure they are cool.

Just place your hand over the ashes and check it’s cooled off. If it’s still generating heat shuffle some more dirt in.

Additional Tips When Putting out Camp or Pit Fires

Some additional tips for added camp safety when putting out fires:

  • Leave as much time as possible for the fire to cool off before leaving the campsite. It can take hours for a fire to be completely safe.
  • Let the fire cool down on its own for as long as possible before using water, sand, or any other method to extinguish it.
  • Make others on the campsite aware you’re going to put a fire out before you throw anything on it. Every should be standing a safe distance away and be paying attention to avoid the risk of injury.
  • Don’t cut corners. Fires can spread incredibly quickly, don’t kick the ashes if you don’t have a stick, and don’t throw any old fluid on if you don’t have water.



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