Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dakota Fire Pit

Dakota Fire Pit:
Over the last few years I have experimented with several variations of the Dakota Fire Pit and thought I would do a brief overview of the concept and show where it thrives and where it falters. First off if you live in an area where there is limited soil before you reach shale or other rock strata I apologize that this will not work for you and you will have to live vicariously through others for now. For those of you who have a thicker layer of soil please try this out and cook a meal over it, its perfectly designed for cooking, generating lower amounts of detectable smoke (when stealth is required or you simply don't want smoke in your eyes or shelter) and having a fire in a primitive shelter, making a fire last all night. Without further delay here is a video I made over the weekend of a quick Dakota Fire Pit I made.

Step-By-Step Instructions

1) Select your digging tool(s) of choice. I selected an E tool (U.S. Military issue folding shovel) for digging the two main holes and a digging stick (4' long x 1.5" thick with a sharp point and flat shovel live surface)  for digging the tunnel between the two holes.
2) Dig your main hole (one on right)  down to desired depth (up to joint of E-Tool for a small cooking pit or several feet deep for an all night fire in a primitive shelter). Once your main hole is dug begin you feeding hole (can be used to feel longer fuel and is mainly used for feeding oxygen to the fire) you want a minimum of 1.5' between the two holes for stability and to enable physics to help decrease the amount of smoke generated. I begin my hole by digging straight down where I want the hole to end and then taper it down to allow for airflow and feeding fuel if it is used for cooking. ***CRITICAL NOTE- Make sure the prevailing wind direction is from your feeding hole toward you fire hole or in the case of my picture Left to Right*** A side note- I have found if you line the hole with granite or other rocks which can withstand heat the burn times almost double decreasing your need for firewood even more!
3) Dig out the area in between your two holes using your digging stick. Be sure to leave at least 4-6" of surface soil above the hole or you will have a cave in. The bigger the hole in between the more airflow and the greater the ability to feed fuel if needed when cooking over your pit.
4) Make your fire lay. Since this pit was only designed for demonstration or cooking I merely used a tinder bundle and added smalls to the fire for a sufficient burn time to cook a bushpot full of food. If you are using this pit inside a primitive shelter for an all night type you would need to obviously have a much deeper and wider main hole in which you can build an upside down fire (I will be making a post on this type of fire soon and may revisit this post when that time comes).
5) Add your fuel and get the flame level below the surface of the fire pit hole and you are ready to cook!


The Dakota Fire Pit is an extremely effective means by which you can cook with a very limited amount of fire wood. Layer the main pit area with with granite or other fire retardant rocks and you will further decrease the amount of fuel needed to maintain a fire in this pit. When utilized correctly this fire pit will put off minimal smoke and can burn nearly all night with a arm bull of firewood! I have used this style of fire in a few primitive shelters and it has provided sufficient warmth and the fire has stayed lit the entire night with minimal maintenance. Now I wont say it puts off a ton of heat as it doesn't but the ground near the pit stays sufficiently warm and if you keep the fire near your core it will easily keep you warm through the night, and it the fire dies down to a coal base merely a log onto the fire and you will have another hour or two of warmth. Overall, I highly recommend that you test out the Dakota Fire Pit and see how it can meet your needs in the wilderness!

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