Principle 5: Minimize Campfire Impacts
Once necessary for cooking and warmth, campfires are steeped in history and tradition. Some people would not think of camping without a campfire. Campfire building is also an essential skill for every camper. Yet, the natural appearance of many areas has been degraded by the overuse of fires and increasing demand for firewood. Moreover, wildfires continue to threaten outdoor spaces and are primarily caused by humans. We can minimize campfire impacts by keeping a few key things in mind.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts on the environment. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Use established fire rings, pans, or mound fires where fires are permitted.
- Keep fires small. Use only sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
Existing Fire Rings
The best place to build a fire is within an existing fire ring in an established campsite. Charcoal should also be limited to use within fire rings or freestanding grills. Keep the fire small and burning only for the time you are using it. Allow the wood to burn completely to ash. Put out fires with water, not dirt. Dirt may not completely extinguish the fire. Avoid building fires next to rock outcrops where the black scars will remain for many years.
Do you believe that education is the most effective line of defense for protecting the outdoors? Leave No Trace teaches millions of people the critical skills needed to care for the environment every year.
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