By Mitra Cazaubon
Camping just isn’t camping without a fire. Whether to roast marshmallows or keep you warm; you got to have one. Better yet, a campfire you can use to cook is ideal. In this article, I will give you the step by step process to build a campfire specially designed for cooking.
1) Before you start your fire ensure you are allowed to light a fire in your location. If your area is dry and hot, be extremely careful or don’t light a fire at all.
2) Your tent should be at least 25 ft away from the campfire downwind.
3) Don’t light a fire near the base of any tree, as this can kill or damage the tree. Neither should you light a fire near dead stumps as fire can travel underground through the dead roots and damage neighboring trees.
4) To avoid accidents clear dry overhanging branches or low hanging branches. Keep water close by in case of an incident.
5) Rack dry leaves and debris away from your fire location (not downwind of the fire).
A cutting tool for processing your wood; and a small shovel for digging a trench and maneuvering hot coals are all the tools you’ll need. You can use a Y stick or your shovel as a rake to get rid of dry leaves and debris before lighting the fire.
Constructing a Trench Fire for Campfire Cooking
Dig a 4ftX1ft trench about three inches deep. You can get the same effect by lining the area with stones. I used both techniques, digging the trench and lining one side with rocks. This configuration gives me the added benefit of a reflector wall made of stone which is ideal for keeping warm and for smoke reduction.
Get your firewood, two Y sticks (to be placed on either side of the trench), one or more sticks with hooks (for hanging pots) and a long stick the length of the trench (for ridge pole). Process your firewood, kindling, and tinder ensuring that you cut them to fit inside your trench.
Take your two Y sticks and put them on opposite sides of your trench (see photo). Secure them by digging a small hole for each stick. Place your ridge pole onto your Y sticks.
Place your tinder along the entire bottom of trench then light. Add kindling over tinder allowing the fire to breathe. Then add firewood diagonally to the previous layer. Allow wood to burn through the length of the trench. Crave notches in your hook stick to hang your pot.
Start cooking. Place some pots directly on the coals or hang those that can be hung, roast your meat on the stick or add a grill and barbecue.
Campfires are great for making that excursion more memorable, and one of the best for cooking is the trench fire. You won’t need a separate fire for grilling and cooking since the trench fire will allow for a variety of cooking styles and cook pots.
A simple three stone fire, instead of the trench, can also work if you don’t want to be extravagant. But for multiple pots, baking, roasting meat and chatting around a trench fire with reflector wall is perfect.
Next time you go camping with friends show off your skills and build a trench fire to cook up a storm.
Here is a video that also shows a completed cooking trench and the finished result in action…