How to Create a Campfire With Less Smoke

 How to Create a Campfire With Less Smoke

While we have seen in previous articles that smoke can be an effective means of signalling for help, there may also be times when we want to create the least amount of smoke possible.

You will find guides online that apparently give directions for creating a campfire with no smoke at all, it’s rubbish. All campfires are going to create smoke but there are ways that we can minimize the amount of smoke produced.

How to Create a Fire With Less Smoke

It helps to first check to see which way the wind is blowing. You can do this easily with a little of your tinder. Just drop it from head height and see which way it drifts.

Clear an area on the ground around where you will be building your fire being sure that there are no sticks, pine needles or vegetation that could ignite from the fire.

Place rocks around the area that you have just cleared in a horseshoe shape. The open end facing the direction from which the wind is blowing.

Dig a 6- to 12-inch-deep, 6-inch-wide trench, about 2 feet long, between the open arms of the horseshoe of rocks.

Close the horseshoe by adding a large flat rock that spans the trench. At this point, you should now have a round fire circle, with the trench passing under the rocks.

Place two-thirds or your tinder on the ground in the middle of the rock circle. Stack kindling around the tinder in the shape of a tepee. Make sure that you leave plenty of gaps so that oxygen can penetrate the fire, but not so much that too much heat escapes.

Light the remaining third of the tinder and once burning, place it into the tinder in the fire circle.

Continue to add larger fuels once the kindling is burning on its own. Once lit, the fire will draw oxygen through the trench, raising the temperature of the fire.

  • Select fuels that burn hot, such as oak, hickory, maple and beech.
  • Always use the driest wood possible.

Avoid using pine needles or straw as tinder as these create too much smoke. For the same reason, you should also avoid wet or green leaves.

When extinguishing the fire, allow it to cool before dousing it with water, as this creates a large cloud of smoke and steam.

Extra Tips

  • Make sure that the wood you are using is dead and dry.
  • Gather the right type of wood. Hardwood, such as maple, ash and oak, burns hotter and cleaner than softwood, such as pine and a hotter flame means less smoke.
  • Place a log on top of the kindling and light the fire with matches and add more wood as needed, varying between medium-sized kindling and larger logs. Keep leaving some space between the pieces of wood, but not so much that they won’t catch fire. This will reduce the smoke and increase the flames.

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