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Building a Dakota fire hole

This fire building method was taught to me by Ryan. He’s always willing and eager to try out different fire builds and this is one we were both wanting to try.

The Dakota Fire Hole gets its name from the Native American tribe of the Dakota, who populated the area that is now North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota. It is believed that they used this style of fire to combat the local windy conditions and avoid starting grass fires.

The advantages of Dakota fire hole is that it burns at a very hot temperature due to the air intake system. A higher temperature fire is more efficient at converting fuel into heat so you will not need as much wood as other fire builds. Another advantage is that it’s hard to spot from a distance because the flames are underground and hot clean burning fire emits little smoke. So if your trying to be in stealth mode, this is the perfect fire to keep from being detected. You can also easily bury it if your being tracked and on the move. It’s also perfect for those windy days and is super easy to cook on.

Begin by preparing various sized dry wood. Include lots of kindling (we used wood shavings).

Now dig your two holes side by side. The size of the hole will depend on how big you want your fire to be. A deeper hole will hide the flames better. The second hole should be about a foot away from the other hole. The connection hole in the middle should be about as big as your fist. Set a few pieces of wood at the bottom of the hole that you will be building your fire in.

Using a flint and magnesium fire starting device, shave a good amount of magnesium in between a couple pieces of wood.

Lay your kindling on top of the magnesium shavings. Scrape some more magnesium shavings over the kindling.

Strike your flint over the kindling close to the magnesium shavings until it ignites. Allow the small flame to take off. Do not blow on the flame at this stage.

Add a little more slightly bigger twigs or pieces of wood as the flame gets larger.

Very softly blow allowing the flame to get bigger and catch some of the larger pieces of wood.

Keep trying if the flame starts to go out. This takes practice!

Carefully slide the flame down onto the bottom layer of wood in your fire hole.

Allow the flame to grow and begin adding the rest of your small pieces of wood a little at a time and then the larger pieces of wood once the fire is stable and has maintained.

You can blow at the other end of the hole to feed the fire oxygen which will help the fire get hotter and take off faster.

You can set a grate on top of the hole or use any pan, cast iron, or Dutch oven as we used in the photo above. Once done, simply cover the hole with the dirt you dug out to make it! That’s it! That’s all there is to it.

These are super fun to build and even funner to cook on. Hope this helps you out in some way. Be sure and let me know in the comments how your Dakota fire hole turned out.


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