While no one knows who invented the ingenious Dakota fire hole, it has proven to be an easy, efficient way to create a hot, underground campfire. This ancient technique for building clean-burning and easily concealable fires has been widely used in the past by Native Americans. Native Americans used this underground fire method so that they could hide their fires from their enemies. These small pits work well in windy condition, they use less wood, and they burn hotter than above-ground fires. Plus, the layout provides a great platform for cooking.
The Dakota fire hole consists of a hole in the ground that is about a foot or more deep and is wide enough to accommodate a small fire. Then a tunnel is dug from the surface of the ground down and around to the bottom of the pit. The roaring fire heats the surrounding air. As hot air escapes straight up out of the fire, cool air is drawn in through the tunnel. Let's explore how to make a Dakota fire hole.
The Many Advantages of the Dakota Fire Hole
The Dakota fire hole is a great camping tool because there are so many advantages to using it.
• Burns at a very high temperature
• Protected from the wind, so it's great in inclement weather
• Great for campfire cooking
Finding a Spot to Build a Dakota Fire Hole
The main thing to look for when looking for a great spot for your Dakota fire hole is that the area is flat and free of rocks and roots for easy digging. Look for soft soil that is easy to dig in with your shovel or strong stick. You also want to avoid an area that could get flooded with water (which would extinguish your fire).
Making a Dakota Fire Hole
If you plan to make a Dakota fire hole while in the great outdoors, pack a folding shovel with you so you're prepared for digging. However if you find yourself in the woods and needing to make a fire hole (maybe because you're in a windy area), then a strong, thick stick could work as an impromptu digging tool.
Creating a Fire Pit Chamber
Once you've identified a great location for your fire pit, dig a hole in the ground that's approximately a foot in diameter and a foot deep. Save this soil for a later step. You've just made the main chamber that contains the fire.
Making the Dakota Fire Hole "Chimney"
Where is the wind coming from? You'll want to position the "chimney" so that the wind hits it before it hits the fire pit chamber. To make the airway that feeds air to the fire, dig a tunnel that's approximately 6" in diameter about a foot from the chamber. Dig it down and over so that it meets up with the pit. Save this soil too. Add kindling (cedar bark, small twigs, dry leaves) and light it. Or use one of these awesome campfire starters if you can't find kindling nearby.
Cooking over a Dakota Fire Hole
Make sure you pack your frying pans, Dutch ovens, and cooking grates for easy cooking over the Dakota fire hole. With its intense heat, you can cook all your favorite meals above the fire hole. Try this delicious Grilled Lemon Chicken with Feta Rice recipe, a yummy Cobbler, or Firepit Jerky the next time you make a Dakota fire hole.
As a responsible outdoorsman or outdoors woman, it's up to you to leave the area as unaffected as possible and to extinguish your Dakota fire hole. Fill in the fire hole with the original dirt you removed and saved when you were making the hole. Then place the vegetation on top of it so it looks good as new.
Knowing how to make a Dakota fire hole is a great camping skill that will prove to come in handy someday. While producing very little smoke and reaching very high temperatures, this type of fire is a popular one and will serve you well in the great outdoors.