Enjoying a campfire is a cozy experience and one of the best ways to relax, unwind, and enjoy bushcrafting. However, you still need to be careful and vigilant when you’re enjoying a campfire, particularly when you want to put it out. If you fail to put your fire out properly, your fun experience might turn into a nightmare.
To avoid spreading a wildfire, you need to put your campfire out properly—and sometimes that might mean doing it without water, as you might not have much (or any) water left. This article will teach you how you can put out a campfire without water.
What’s the Best Way to Put Out a Campfire?
A common misconception is that after using a campfire, you can leave it to burn out on its own. This is a totally wrong and dangerously unacceptable idea; your fire might still be burning or rekindle after you leave, leading to a devastating wildfire.
Water is the best way to extinguish campfires, but you might not have much (or any) to hand. The next best option is to use sand and dirt. Follow the upcoming steps to put a fire out properly using sand and dirt. Although it’s not difficult, it’s not as easy as just throwing sand on the fire!
Using Sand and Dirt
- First, go and find some sand and dirt. Try to find wet sand if you can; if not, dry sand will do. And make sure the dirt is something similar to sand e.g. loamy soil.
- Remove any leaves or sticks from the dirt (they could catch fire).
- Now dismantle your fire and separate the pieces of wood so they’re not in close contact with each other. If you left them close together, rekindling could occur.
- Now heap as much sand as possible onto the fire; you can use a shovel or another implement to help you pack it tightly. The more sand you add, and the tighter you pack it, the more the campfire will be starved of oxygen and the more effectively it will go out.
- If the fire continues to smoke lightly, don’t leave! Add more sand and wait for it to die down. This step is really important; you need the fire to stop smoking altogether before you leave.
Is It Possible to Safely Put Out a Fire Without Water?
Water is the easiest and most reliable way of putting out a fire; the fact that water is used in fire service industries says it all.
As you now know, it is possible to put out a fire safely without water. You just have to be extra careful and ensure the method you are using puts the fire out completely. Paying close attention to small details—like light embers and smoke—helps you detect if the fire is completely out or not.
Since other methods aren’t quite as effective as using water, you really need to keep double-checking before you leave: check if your fire is out, double-check, and be really sure that there are no remnants of heat or smoke.
You can’t rely on someone else turning up to extinguish your fire if it rekindles—by then, it might already be too late. Done with the right attention, patience, and care, putting out a fire without water can be a safe endeavor.
How to Put Out a Campfire Without Water
You learned that the best way to put a fire out is using water—and failing that, using sand and dirt. There are, however, some other relatively safe ways of putting out a fire. These include burying, using a snuffer, and using rocks.
So, to round up this article, let’s go through four more ways to put out a fire without water. There are important safety steps to remember in each case.
Burying the Embers
This and using sand are among the safest ways of putting out a campfire. A fire needs oxygen to function, and by digging a hole and burying the embers, you starve it of its oxygen supply and put it out.
To do this technique successfully, you need to dig a hole that’s ideally six-to-seven inches deep. Then you can bury the hot embers of your fire in the hole. You can even dig the hole before starting your fire, but ensure the hole is at least deep enough to suffocate the fire.
After burying the embers, scrape the ashes and cover them with sand, too. The heat from the embers will disperse into the ground and the ashes will be put out by the sand. Done right, this method works well and avoids fire-related incidents.
Clearing and Scraping
Fire needs ashes, wood, and other debris to rekindle. After enjoying your fire, you can prevent rekindling by clearing and scraping away those waste materials. You can use a machete or a hunting knife, depending on what you have available. This is a slower, more tedious way of putting out fire, and it requires a lot of patience.
This clearing and scraping method first requires that you remove leaves from your fire. Also ensure that you separate the pieces of wood from each other and scrape off the hot ashes. Next, spread the ashes and disperse the pieces of—and your fire should go out naturally.
Especially with this method, take extra care to check closely that your fire is completely extinguished before you leave.
Using a Snuffer
A snuffer is a very handy tool that you can carry with you to put out campfires. Made of metal, a snuffer cuts off oxygen from the fire and effectively extinguishes the flames.
When using a snuffer, watch out for gaps and make sure you close it effectively. Also, double-check before you leave to avoid accidental fire incidents later on.
Although a snuffer works effectively when used properly, you have to carry it around with you and that might be inconvenient when doing bushcraft.
Finally, you can also use rocks to put out your fire—ones that are sand-like are particularly effective. First, separate the pieces of firewood to prevent them from rekindling. Next, pack some rocks tightly over your fire. Tighter is better as that will starve your fire of oxygen. As ever, make sure to double-check your fire is out before you leave.
Tip: Be careful with the rocks you’ve already placed down; they might become hot and burn your hands.
To conclude, remember that fire is a very serious business and shouldn’t be taken for granted under any circumstances. You can put out a fire safely without water—so long as you carefully follow the instructions given in this article. Safe bushcrafting equals happy bushcrafting!
I am Bruno. Navigating the urban rush by day, I find peace under the stars by night. Alongside my loyal companion and co-adventurer Lilith, we explore the balance between city life and nature’s embrace. Through writing and films, I delve into bushcraft and the wild’s allure.
GointheWilderness is my bridge between these two realms, guiding you to reconnect with your innate wilderness.
Eden is here and now; join us in rediscovering it.