The art of putting out a campfire the right way.

At some point in the evening things will draw to a close and it’s time to crawl into the tent for the night.

But before everyone disappears there is one important thing that needs to be taken care of: it’s time for putting out a campfire. Remember, never leave a campfire unattended!

Whether a fire ring or fire pit is being used, it’s best to let the campfire flames go out by themselves before adding water when putting out the campfire. It’s best to do this a while before everyone heads off to sleep. I’m usually the last one left at the campfire so I make putting out the campfire, my responsibility.

Once the campfire stops burning and the flames disappear, there will be some glowing coals.

Stir the coals around with the, leftover, stir stick from the last section. Or, I like to use my metal shovel to break up the coals a bit. The idea behind this is to have very few coals left over and nothing but ash. Coals will turn to ash but it takes a little time. Ash is very easy and safe to dispose of.

After the glow of the coals begins to fade, gently pour or, it’s even better to sprinkle or splash some water over them. If too much water is pitched or sprayed onto the coals at once there will a flash of hot steam and a cloud of ash that could cover you and your camping equipment.

Note: Water is the best thing to use when putting out a campfire! Dirt and sand only cover the coals, but underneath the dirt the coals keep burning! Not only that but they can burn for a very long time. If there are any underground roots in the area they can smolder for weeks and months possibly starting a forest fire long after the campsite has been vacated. Double check to make sure of this when putting out a campfire!

Once there doesn’t appear to be anymore glowing coals, pour in more water and mix it with your stir stick. If there is no longer any hissing sound when water is added, then it’s safe to crawl into the tent.

In the morning before the campsite is vacated it’s best to check for any additional hot spots. Add more water and stir the ash/water mixture around a bit more.

If a fire ring was used try to remove some of the leftover coals and charred wood. I’ll usually leave the larger pieces of charred wood for the next camper. But I will remove as many lumps of coal and dispose of them in a metal trashcan. It’s a courteous thing to do for the next camper!

If a fire pit was used, remove the lumps of coal and charred wood and dispose of them as well. Now is a good time to shovel the dirt back into the pit mixing it with the ash. Make the campfire area appear as if it was untouched.

Click here to leave the putting out a campfire section and head back to the main campfire page.

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