The Dakota Fire Pit

dakota-firepitA Dakota Fire Pit is a technique created by the Dakota Indians. It is a very effective method of building and maintaining a fire. It is relatively simple to construct and is super-efficient when it comes to burning fuel. The fire will burn hotter while using less wood – which in a survival situation can mean the difference between life and death.

The pit consists of two holes – a fire chamber and an air flow tunnel.

To start creating your Dakota Fire Pit you will need to dig a hole which measures about one foot deep and is about the same in diameter. This will be the fire chamber. It is worth considering making the bottom of the chamber a few inches wider to allow for longer pieces of wood to be used to get the fire going.

Once you have constructed your fire chamber, you will need to dig your air flow tunnel. The placement of this is important in order to get most efficiency out of your fire pit. The tunnel should be upwind of the fire chamber and about one foot away. The tunnel should measure about half a foot in diameter and needs to angle down towards the fire chamber so the two eventually connect at the bottom of the chamber.

The pit is now complete.

At this stage we should be able to get a fire going. To do this we are going to partway fill the chamber with kindling and light the fire with our chosen method. We will then gradually add sticks until we have a strong fire. The rising heat from our fire will create a draft that will “suck” air into the fire pit through the air flow tunnel, causing a very efficient burn.

Advantages and Disadvantages

This method of fire has some advantages over a standard campfire. The main advantage is the previously-mentioned increase in heat output. Our fire will burn extra hot using this method; this means any food being cooked or any water being heated will be ready for use in a much smaller amount of time.

We will need less fuel (wood) as the efficiency of the burning is much greater than other fire methods. This is due to the draft being drawn in the air flow tunnel.

A Dakota Fire Pit makes our fire much easier to manage in windy conditions as it is mostly sheltered from the elements. It can be difficult to light and maintain a fire in high winds so by using this method, you can get a fire up and running in no time.

If we are trying to conceal our location from others, this is a great way of staying out of sight while still being able to get a fire going for warmth, cooking etc. As the flame is underground, it is well hidden from view even at night so you can have a stealth fire wherever you are.

Obviously with advantages come the disadvantages and the Dakota Fire Pit is no exception.

The first disadvantage to consider is rain. If it is raining heavily, your fire chamber could fill with water putting the fire out. Also if there has been rain in the hours before you attempt this fire, the soil may make it difficult to get a fire lit in the first place.

The fact that the fire is underground, although great for stealth, can cause issues for adding fuel to the fire. It can be quite awkward to get that extra couple of sticks into the fire chamber where they can burn.

The main disadvantage is the initial time it takes to build the fire pit. It can take a little while and a fair amount of effort to get the fire chamber and the air flow tunnel dug but once this has been complete, it is very easy to keep the fire lit.

This is a great method for fire lighting and burning. It needs very few tools – a small shovel and some fire building materials are all that is required. Whether camping with the family or in a survival situation, an efficient fire is of the utmost importance and with a Dakota Fire Pit; you can have a very hot burning fire as long as it is needed.


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