Knowing how to properly put out a campfire is one of the most important parts of the camping experience. You don’t want to leave a smouldering fire that could easily turn into an out-of-control inferno. Knowing how to put out a campfire without water is a vital bit of knowledge to have up your sleeve.
If you’re camping in an area with plentiful water, putting out a campfire is as simple as pouring enough water on the fire to drown the flames.
However, if you’re camping in a drier environment, you’ll need to use one of these four methods to put out your campfire safely. Read on to learn more.
Table of Contents
How To Put Out A Campfire Without Water
1. Bury the Embers
One of the safest ways to put out a fire without water is to bury the hot embers. You can actually prepare for this by digging a small hole in the ground before you even light your fire.
This may be more work than you’ve signed up for, and may also not be allowed in certain campgrounds, so use caution.
Dig a hole that is at least six inches deep before you start your fire. This will also help to increase airflow at the base of your fire and reduce the risk of a fire spreading. When it’s time to put out the fire, use a shovel to push the embers down into the hole.
Make sure to scrape all of the ashes and cinders into the hole, then cover them up with soil. This will effectively put out your fire without any risk of flare-ups.
This method works because the fire is fully extinguished and the embers are buried, making it harder for them to catch on anything else. They are deprived of oxygen, and the heat from the embers will disperse into the ground.
Once you’ve finished putting out your fire, make sure to firmly compact the soil on top. This way, it’s harder for the embers to escape from their hole if it’s a particularly windy night.
2. Use a Snuffer
A snuffer is a handy tool for putting out a campfire. It is a large metal lid that can be placed on top of the fire pit to cut off the oxygen and smother the flames. These lids can be used for in-ground and free-standing pits since they’re large enough to cover several feet of fire.
Snuffers can be used on small campfires or even larger bonfires, making them the perfect tool for putting out an entire blaze with very little effort.
This is a very simple way to put out your campfire, and all you need is a snuffer tool. You can buy one online or at most camping stores. Many firepits come with a lid, and will usually be perfectly fitted for putting out the fire.
The drawback to using this tool, especially while camping, is that you will have to carry it with you. Since these are made out of metal, they can be quite heavy and take up a lot of space in your camping gear.
If you’re not able to find or purchase a snuffer, you can use a large piece of metal to cover the fire. This can be any large metal sheet that can cover your fire pit entirely.
When it’s time to put out your fire, place the snuffer over the fire pit and let it sit for a few minutes. The weight of the lid will gradually smother the flames until they are fully extinguished. Be careful not to touch the hot metal of the lid.
If you’re using a snuffer to put out your fire, make sure to leave plenty of time for the embers to cool down before leaving the campsite. It will take time for the fire to fully go out, so don’t try to move the snuffer until the next day if you can wait.
Keep an eye out for gaps in the snuffer and make sure they’re closed off to achieve maximum effectiveness.
If you don’t have a snuffer, a mesh fire screen can also do the trick.
While a screen won’t completely extinguish the fire, a mesh fire screen is a metal grate that sits in front of your campfire and blocks any embers from escaping. This is an easy way to keep your campsite safe and prevent any accidental fires if you don’t have the tools to put it out fully.
3. Cover the Fire with Dirt and Sand
If you’d like a more hands-off method of putting out your fire without water, simply pour lots of dirt over the flames until they are fully extinguished. If you’re using sand, you can scoop it up and dump it over the fire. It’s best to use a shovel, bucket, or large metal object so that you don’t burn yourself when trying to smother out any remaining embers.
Pour the sand over the fire slowly so that you can get an even and dense covering on your hot coals.
This method works by cutting off the oxygen supply, which is what keeps your campfire burning after you’ve put fuel on top of it.
If you’re using dirt, make sure that there aren’t any leaves, twigs, or other combustible material in the dirt that you’re going to use. This organic material may light up again, so it’s best to avoid using dirt that has any debris in it.
If the dirt is moist, this will help to extinguish the fire even faster. The water in the soil will help to cool down the embers and put out any remaining flames.
Once you’ve completely covered all of your coals with sand or dirt, make sure they are fully extinguished before leaving the campsite. To do this, feel around the surface and check to see if any hot embers are still in the pile. You can also use your shovel or a large stick to investigate and feel for any hot spots.
4. Spread Out the Remaining Hot Coals
If you don’t have access to any of the above materials, you can also smother out your fire by simply spreading the coals around.
Spread them so they are evenly distributed and don’t have any hot spots nearby to ignite again. With enough space between each coal, there’s no way for them to light up again and they will let off the remaining heat quickly.
This is the slowest and most tedious way of putting out your fire, but it will work in a pinch if you don’t have any other materials. It’s also easier to tell if your fire is completely out when the coals are spread out because they will glow a faint red when they are still hot.
Make sure to do this well before you’re heading to bed in your tent so that you can avoid any potential dangers. A spark can easily reignite a pile of hot coals, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
If you’re using this method, keep in mind that it may take a few hours for the embers to cool down completely. One way to slightly speed this up is by constantly using your shovel to spread out the coals and break them down even further. This will help to release the heat even quicker.
Preparing a Fire Before Extinguishing It
If you were to bury or pour sand onto a raging fire, it would be very chaotic and even dangerous. There are a couple of steps you should take to wind your fire down before extinguishing it fully.
Stop Adding Wood to the Fire
The first thing you should do is stop adding wood to the fire. This will help to cut off the oxygen supply and make it easier to put out the flames.
If your campfire is still going strong, this may be all you need to do in order for it to slowly die down on its own.
Reducing the Air Supply to the Fire
If your fire is starting to die down but isn’t quite out yet, you can try to reduce the air supply. This will make it more difficult for the fire to continue burning. You can do this by adding rocks to the fire, which will help to smother out sections of heat at the bottom of your fire.
Knock Over the Fire
If your fire is still burning, you can try to knock it over with a long branch or stick. This will help reduce the oxygen supply and make it easier for you to finish putting out the flames.
Remove Any Logs That Haven’t Fully Ignited
If you have a few logs that aren’t fully lit, pull them out of the fire and place them to one side. You can use these as fuel for your next campfire if there is enough fresh material left on them.
Once all of this is done, you should be able to finish extinguishing any remaining embers with ease!
Can You Leave Embers Burning in a Fire Pit?
In general, it’s best to put your embers out overnight. Many campsites have specific laws and safety rules against leaving embers in your fire pit, so it’s always better to play it safe.
This helps to prevent any fires from starting and ensures that your embers will be out for the next person to enjoy.
If you’re at a campsite, make sure to set up your tent far away from the fire. This will reduce the chances of an ember or spark blowing onto your tent and starting a fire. Keep all tarps and other flammable objects far from the firepit overnight.
If you leave burning embers in a fire pit at home, you risk the chance of catching fire on your patio or lawn. If you have a metal fire pit, it can be especially dangerous because the embers may not go out quickly and could continue to smoulder for hours after you’re done with your fire.
At the very least, invest in a fire screen for your home fire pit. This will help to keep sparks and embers from flying out of the fire pit and onto your porch or lawn.
How Long Does a Campfire Take To Burn Out?
It usually takes around four to six hours for a campfire to burn out completely. If you put out the fire properly, there should be no remaining embers that can start a fire.
This timeframe can vary greatly, depending on certain factors:
The Type of Wood Used
Different types of wood will burn for different lengths of time. Hardwoods, like oak or hickory, will burn for longer than softwoods, like pine.
If you’re using wood that is well-cured, it will burn hotter and cleaner than wood that is still green and fresh. However, damp wood may be easier to put out overall.
Make sure to check the moisture content of your wood before starting a campfire. You can do this by checking the wood for green leaves or sap, which may indicate that it’s not fully cured.
The Size of Your Logs
The larger your logs are, the longer they will burn. You can expect smaller wood pieces to burn out in around two hours. Larger logs may take up to six hours to fully combust and become nothing but ash.
As mentioned above, you can simply remove a larger log and place it on the side if you want it to smoulder out and be usable for another night.
How Much Air You Let in
The more air you let into your campfire, the hotter it will burn. If you want to smother your fire and put it out faster, block off some of the holes or openings that allow fresh oxygen into your firepit. This can be done by placing sand on top of them or using rocks. If there is a significant source of wind, consider using chairs or other large objects to block the wind flow.
The Size of the Fire
A small fire will usually burn out in a shorter time than a large one. A massive bonfire with thick logs burning for hours can take up to 24 hours or more to fully extinguish! An average campfire will usually burn up in around two to 6 hours if it is made of dry wood.
How Often Wood is Added to the Fire
If you’re constantly adding wood to your fire, it will take longer for the flames and embers to die out. Make sure that you only put a few logs into the pit at one time so that you can pace yourself and have a predictable rate of burn.
If you’re using wet wood, your fire will take significantly longer to burn out. The same goes for larger fires – it will take longer for them to die down than a small campfire. If you’re constantly adding wood to the fire, it will also take longer for it to burn out.
Bad weather conditions, such as high winds, can also make it more difficult for a fire to die down.
In general, it’s always best to play it safe and put your campfire completely out before leaving the campsite. This will help prevent any unwanted fires from starting!
Can You Pour Water On A Fire Pit?
Putting out a fire with water is one of the most efficient and effective ways to extinguish it. However, you should keep in mind that pouring water on an open flame can be incredibly dangerous. It will cause the flames to flare up and could potentially cause injury. If there’s too much water being poured onto the fire at once, it could also result in steam, which can be just as dangerous and may scald your skin.
If you’re looking to put out a small fire safely and effectively, try using a shovel or bucket to pour water over the embers little by little. This will help to cool them down gradually without causing any sudden bursts of flames.
You should also shovel sand, dirt, or other dry material onto the fire pit to help smother the embers. This will remove any access to oxygen and put out your flames safely and quickly!
Disadvantages Of Putting Out A Campfire Without Water
There are some obvious disadvantages to putting out a campfire without water. For example, it will take longer for the fire pit to die down and become nothing but ash. If you’re trying to put your flames out in a timely manner, using water might be more effective overall!
In addition to taking more time, putting out a campfire without water will retain heat for a longer period of time. This means that it might be hot to the touch long after you’ve packed up and left your site! Make sure to let other campers or fire-goers know that your firepit is still hot before they attempt to use it for their own fires or grills.
Keep small children and animals away from the area until the fire has cooled off completely.
The final drawback to putting out a fire without water is that it can be more difficult to completely extinguish the embers. In some cases, they may smoulder for hours or even days after the initial flames have been put out! This could lead to an uncontrolled fire if left unchecked.
You will have to carefully monitor the area around your extinguished firepit to make sure that there are no remaining sparks or embers. If there are, they could easily reignite and start another fire!
In short, putting out a campfire without water can be more difficult and time-consuming, but it’s not impossible. With a little bit of patience and perseverance, you can use these methods to extinguish your flames and prevent any unwanted fires from starting.
What Is The Best Way To Put Out A Campfire?
The best way to put out a campfire is with water. It will help you get the job done quickly and efficiently, without any of the drawbacks that come along with other methods.
In addition to putting out the flames themselves, water will also help to cool down the surrounding area. If you’re trying to put out a large fire that’s spread into an entire pit or ring, using water is the best way to prevent any damage from occurring!
You can use a shovel to stir up the ashes and embers to make sure that all of them have been extinguished.
Once you’re certain that your fire is completely out, it’s a good idea to spread sand or soil over the top of the pit. This will help smother any remaining flames or embers from reigniting.
This is the fastest, most efficient, and safest way to put out a campfire if you’re lucky enough to have access to water at your campsite.
Make sure not to completely soak any partially burnt logs that you would like to use the next day. They may be too moist to light and could end up ruining your fire.
Instead, run water on the parts of the wood that are burning and carefully place it along the side of the fireplace. The next day, the heat and sun should dry up any remaining moisture so that you can use these logs again.
When Is It Safe to Leave My Firepit?
It’s typically safe to leave your firepit after all of the embers have been extinguished and there is no longer any flame present. Make sure to double-check for any remaining sparks or embers before leaving, as these could easily reignite and start another fire!
You can check by looking for any glowing or red embers. If you can’t find any of these, there is a good chance that your firepit has been successfully extinguished and poses no threat to the surrounding area.
Next, look for smoke. Is there any smouldering happening in the firepit?
Finally, use your hands and hold them in different areas around the pit. This will let you know if there are any hotspots or remaining areas of heat.
If you don’t see any embers, smoke, or feel any heat, you can safely assume that your fire has been extinguished and is no longer a threat.
Campfires can provide a lot of warmth and comfort while camping, but they also require a significant amount of caution. By following these simple tips, you can safely put out your campfire and avoid any potential dangers. Have a great time camping, and enjoy your fire!