How to Put Out a Campfire: 6 Things You Should Know

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Going camping is one of the best experiences that you can ever have in your life. Being able to connect with the nature and leave all your life’s hassles behind is something that anyone would crave for. Camping is the perfect medium for letting off all that steam and if you know how to do it properly, you can have some amazing memories and experiences. However, all that enjoyment only comes if you know your stuff and can handle yourself at a campsite. There is a lot of self-reliance involved in camping and one of the most important parts of that process is knowing how to handle fire.

Since there are no stoves and heating arrangements at campsites, you rely on fires to not only cook food but also stay warm. Temperatures can drop dramatically at campsites during night and having a good fire going is essential in most trips. However, one thing that a lot of people tend to overlook is the art of putting the fire out that they built.

It may be an easy thing to build a fire in most cases, but people tend to not take proper care of the fire once they are done. This can not only cause unnecessary harm to the environment, but in extreme cases it can even lead to the fires growing out of control and burning the area down. To make sure you do not because a cause for such a situation, we are sharing some useful tips along with proper method for putting out campfires.


What is the Proper Method?

We are going to take you step by step on how you can fully put out your campfire once you are done. Each step is explained in detail for small but important intricacies and ignoring any of them could lead to disaster. Therefore, you must read through each of them fully and make sure to follow every step mentioned here.

  1. Putting the Fire Out

    Before you go ahead and start extinguishing the fire, it is important to keep a fundamental step in mind. Only burn an appropriate quantity of wood that you can use down to its embers. Not only will it make your job a lot easier, but it will also play a role in minimizing the use of firewood. When you fire is burning, allow the flame to die down with only embers left in the pit. Once you have reached that stage, pour water on top of the fire to stop the fire.

    The correct method of doing so is to sprinkle the water on the fire gently and steadily. A big splash is never a good idea as that can agitate the fire even further and could lead to a large fire if you are in a wooded area. As you are pouring water, you will hear a lot of hissing and see smoke as well. Keep on pouring the water until all the embers are completely put out. In some cases, you may also have embers sitting in layers and the water may not reach those layers. In that situation you can easily forger to do a proper job and leave behind a fire hazard.

    The best way is to spread out the embers in the pit with a stick and make the entire surface flat. That would allow you to make sure you reach every ember and do not leave anything hot behind. The final goal in this step is to ensure that the entire pit and all the wood in it is wet when you leave. This would ensure that there are no spontaneous fires once you leave the campsite.

  2. Check for More Embers Anyway

    It is best to not rely on your self-confidence and always double check everything when it comes to campsite fires. Once you feel like your entire pit is wet, go ahead and ruffle through the entire collection and spread it out to expose any other hidden embers and coals. A lot of times even spreading out initially as explained earlier can leave some coals and embers behind and that can be dangerous. This step allows you to double check if the problem persists and address is thoroughly before leaving the campsite.

    A concern here for some people would be the water that they would need to use to put the fire out. If possible, camp near a water source or bringing sufficient water with you that you know would last your trip easily including for putting out fires. If that is a difficult thing for you to manage, we find it best to identify a spot where you can find some sand since that is extremely effective at putting out fires. That is also why you see it quite commonly being used for fire emergencies as well next to CO2.


  3. Check the Fire Temperature

    One of the easiest ways of deciding if the fire is completely gone is to put your hand on the fire and check its temperature. If the coals are hot you need to do some more pouring to bring the temperature down. With dry wood or grass around your location, having anything hot can easily lead to fires spreading without provocation. The temperature check allows you to make sure that the fire is fully out and is no longer at risk of reigniting once you leave the place. The ideal temperature of the fire would be when you can touch the wood with your bare hands without burning them off.

    Alternatively, if you do not want to experience the black texture of the wood and want a cleaner option then the stones you put around your fire put are your best bet. Check the temperature of the stones nearest to the fire. This may however take a bit longer to confirm since stones can take a lot longer to cool down when compared to wood. Also, the focus of your water is also on the wood itself so there is a chance that it may be extremely hot.

  4. Mixing in the Dirt

    One of the key things that you must do when leaving a campsite is to make sure that they fire you created is completely gone when you leave. To do so, once you have cooled the firewood down completely, you should add some dirt or sand to the pit and mix it up with the wood. There is a chance that you may have left behind small pieces of ember even after the entire routine for putting out the fire. The mixing will make sure they also get highlighted and get put out completely. If you can, bury the firewood completely in the ground and flatten the surface of the fire area as well. This would let the next person coming to the site start their fire without having to clean up after you.


    While such a situation would be close to impossible, if you are going to a spot where you think there is no access to dirt and sand, you can always keep a bag handy with you that you can pour onto the fire when leaving the site. Mixing all these things in allows the fire to die down the way it should and leave the campsite safe.

  5. Never Throw Water on Fire

    A common misconception about fire is that throwing water on it can put it out quickly. This has led to multiple instances where people got burnt from the flame or ended up damaging the area around it. Throwing water agitates the flames, especially if they have not yet died down fully. As described above, water must be poured on the fire slowly and gently. You may be putting yourself and the people around you in harm’s way simply because of a little bit of unnecessary haste.

    woman pouring water on campfire slowly

  6. Keep a Shovel Handy

    There are two reasons why using dirt for putting the fire out instead of water would be a good idea. The first reason is obvious: dirt and sand are a lot more effective at putting fires out as compared to water. Water is only cooling the embers down to put them out which may be ineffective whereas sand and dirt suffocates the first by cutting off oxygen which is much more effective. The second reason is the fact that unless you are traveling on a large vehicle with you directly to the camping site, you may not have sufficient water to carry with you.

    Wasting resources in such a situation is not recommended and if you are carrying limited water, then you would want to keep that for future use yourself. A camping shovel will be extremely handy as you can dig up the dirt around you and put it on your fire to extinguish it. Another misconception that we would like to clear out here is that burying your fire fully in dirt is also wrong. Not putting it out can leave the fire smoldering which can cause reignition once the inside gets hot enough.


It is obvious as to why putting your campfire out properly is extremely important. As a responsible camper, you need to make sure that you follow the guidelines provided here and always put your campfire out properly before leaving. It may save you and the people and environment around you from a lot of unnecessary problems. Save the steps defined here to along with the included tips in your checklist for your next camping trip. If you have any tricks that you think other people should know about, feel free to share them in the comments below.

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