How to Build a Fire Pit for Cooking


Building a fire pit for cooking brings you in touch with an ancient method of food preparation. A fire pit holds a fire below the surface of the ground to protect the flames from high winds. This dug in version, known as a Dakota fire pit, requires the construction of the main pit with a ventilation hole to feed the fire with fresh air as it burns. Always check with local authorities about regulations governing open fires.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Dry twigs and paper
  • Lighter or matches
  • Fire wood
  • 15 inch wide metal grill grate
  • Dig a 1-foot diameter hole in the ground, 1 foot deep, to create the main chamber of the pit.

  • Widen the base of the hole below the surface by scooping out 2 inches more of soil on all sides.

  • Dig a 6-inch wide hole 1 foot upwind of the large hole to serve as the ventilation for the pit.

  • Connect the small hole with the larger by digging a channel from the smaller hole to the side of the main pit.

  • Arrange dry twigs and paper in the bottom of the main pit to serve as kindling. Light the end of one piece of rolled up paper or a twig, and touch the lighted twig to the kindling until it ignites.

  • Wait for the fire to grow so most of the kindling burns. Add firewood a piece at a time until you have a fire of the desired heat level.

  • Set a metal grill grate over the top of the main pit for use as a cooking surface.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always extinguish all flames before leaving the campsite, and fill in the fire pit with dirt.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher or water on hand at all times to stop the spread of a fire that becomes out of control.

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  • Photo Credit camping fire image by sumos from
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