Putting Out Your Campfire
By far more important than building a good campfire is to make sure you completely put it out! Every year, careless people destroy thousands of acres of wilderness and forest land by leaving campfires. Please be a Campfire Dude and not one of those Duds.
- Extinguish your campfire at least 1/2 hour before you plan to leave.
- By planning ahead, you should have burned down all the coals to ash. There should be very few chunks of coal left and no partially burned wood.
- If you are extinguishing a burning fire rather than hot ash and coals, first use a stick to stir the wood and ash. This is to extinguish the flames as much as you can.
- Sprinkle water over the coals. If they are hot, this will cause a lot of steam mixed with ash so avoid standing directly above or downwind of the fire. You may want to move your gear too.
- Once you have wetted down all the ash and coals, use a stick to stir everything together.
- Continue to sprinkle water and stir until no more steam rises and you hear no hissing steam.
- Let the fire area sit for 10 minutes. Good opportunity to get more water.
- Feel the area for hot spots - hold the back of your hand close to the ash, but not in it. Feel around for heat spots.
- If everything is cold, you done good, kid! If there is still heat, sprinkle more water and stir.
- Once you feel no heat, the ash can be disposed of:
- Scoop all the coals, ash, and partially burned wood into a bag, cooking pot, or some other container.
- Carry it far out into the woods and spread it around.
- Or, carry it down the trail a 1/2 mile and then disperse it far off the trail.
- Scatter unused wood back into the surrounding woods or leave it nicely stacked if this is a high-use, established camp site.
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