Cooking Fire Safety in the Back Country 

StealthFyre may be a revolutionary idea in survival stove technology, but some things will never change. Like the safe use of fire, for instance. Regardless of how you’re using your fire, you still need to take certain precautions in cooking fire safety. Thanks to the concept of the Dakota Fire Hole, which our stove system is based upon, StealthFyre may well be one of the safest ways to burn wood and organic material in the wilderness. But there are still many things you must consider when deploying your stove.

We may find every opportunity to encourage you to deploy your StealthFyre as a Dakota Fire Hole because we are passionate about its versatility and efficiency in such a configuration. That, and we just love using the Dakota Fire Hole everywhere we can. So, it’s only natural that we find another opportunity to bring it up in the context of cooking fire safety.

That’s because this unique fire lay keeps your flame below ground and away from flammable surroundings when built right. The nature of its design means that it can effectively use the fuel you feed it to create a nearly smoke-free fire that produces very few sparks. Fewer sparks mean fewer chances of wildfire. And once you’re done using your fire, you can simply fill in the holes and bury the ash and embers, killing the fire and leaving no trace behind.

But you still need to practice safe use of fire and never take anything for granted. Here’s a step by step method of using your StealthFyre survival stove to safely deploy a Dakota Fire Hole and get the full enjoyment out of it without burning your world to the ground.

Establishing The Location of Your Fire Hole

The first and most important part of building a safe fire in the back country is to establish a good location. Some things to consider are the presence of wind and it’s direction, surrounding foliage and underbrush, and soil conditions. You will always want to locate your fire in an area protected as much from prevailing winds as possible. This will make it much easier to start and maintain a fire, but it will also cut down on the distance traveled by any created sparks.

You do not want to build your fire near anything that can easily catch fire or be damaged by fire. That means if you have low-lying underbrush very close to your chosen site, you should try to find a better location if at all possible. Generally speaking, you should try to stay about fifteen feet away from anything that can be flammable.

But because most often it is the underbrush and dense trees that provide the wind protection you need, that also means that any sparks you produce will be traveling away from your windbreak, making the downwind burnable material more important to be concerned about than those upwind.

Look For Good Soil Conditions

Soil conditions are also very important to consider when thinking about cooking fire safety. When choosing your spot to dig, try to make sure you are as far away from tree roots as possible. Not only do they make it difficult to dig a hole, but they may be able to catch fire and smolder long after you’re gone. Sometimes though, it is not possible to find a place to dig without running into tree roots. StealthFyre is an ideal way to eliminate the dangerous possibility of a root fire when it is deployed properly.

You will also have to consider some soil conditions can themselves be very flammable. Choose your location wisely. Once you have chosen your fire location, make sure that you dig your trench a bit larger than your stove, so that it sits well in the middle of the hole with two or three inches of space on all sides. This will keep the root-ends away from the flames that could ignite them, separated by a barrier of steel and soil.

Digging Your Hole

Assemble your stove in the configuration you intend to use and place it where you will be deploying it. Then, using a stick or your shovel, trace an outline in the topsoil around the stove to establish the location of the hole. If you have a lot of dense grass in the location you are deploying your stove, you will want to cut this out as a much larger shape than your stove and save as a sod plug before digging. Leave at least six inches of bare soil between your stove and the organic material surrounding your hole. 

Cooking Fire Safety
Digging a trench in preparation for StealthFyre deployment.

The next step will be to dig your hole. Dig it to a depth of approximately eight inches so that you may leave a small portion of the stove protruding above the surface once it’s deployed. This will serve as a solid cooking surface for any cooking utensils you may be using.

Remove any roots and cut them to the very edge of the hole. If there are rocks at the depth of the floor that creates an uneven surface, remove them and fill in the created holes with soil. Tamp down the floor of your hole with a rock, a log, or your feet to create as level a surface as possible for your StealthFyre stove to rest on.

Deploying Your Stove

Building a Dakota Fire Hole with StealthFyre
Deploying StealthFyre in the trench.

Now you’re ready to deploy your StealthFyre stove as a true Dakota Fire Hole. Gently lift it up and place it in your pit. Center it and make sure you leave an even amount of space all the way around it. If you have anything under it that causes it to sit unevenly, wobble, or come apart, remove it and make sure the floor is level.

A Dakota Fire Hole built with StealthFyre
The Dakota Fire Hole configuration after being buried.

Now begin filling in the pit around the air intake tunnel to hold the stove in place, and then fill in the spaces around each tower. Line the inner walls of longer stoves with stones when working in loose or sandy soil. This keeps the walls from caving in.

Starting Your Fire

By now, you should have a nice little Dakota Fire Hole with enough buffer zone around its edges to prevent any fire from creeping out of its boundaries and getting out of control. There are two ways to have and maintain the fire in this type of pit. The Bottom-Up fire, and the Top-Down fire. 

Bottom-Up Fire

A Dakota Fire Hole
A bottom-up style fire in a StealthFyre Dakota Fire Hole.

Make sure you have all the firewood collected that you will need. Then begin your fire by making a small tinder bundle and igniting it by any method you choose. Drop this flaming bundle into the fire hole and immediately begin feeding it kindling. This is the best method for maintaining a small flame that can be concealable while at the same time being controllable. In order to keep your flame small, you shouldn’t overfeed this type of fire. You will find that with very little effort you will have created a hot burning fire. And the more you feed it, the larger and more visible your fire will be. 

Top-Down Fire

The Dakota Fire Hole
A top-down style fire, also known as a Swedish Fire log style fire. Built inside of a Dakota Fire Hole.

In order to begin building this type of fire, start by packing your firewood into the fire hole. Then place your flaming tinder bundle on top of the firewood. Filling your fire hole with sticks standing on end creates a Swedish Fire Log style fire. This is an effective way of creating a thick, hot bed of coals for grilling meats. But will also create a tall flame for several minutes.

This method can produce uncontrollable results in some situations, but with a Dakota Fire Hole, you will be able to control it by restricting airflow through the air intake tunnel. In this way, you will be able to slow down the burn somewhat, but you will find that the flame is still much harder to control than with the previous method. The top-down fire is a great way to get a prolonged burn with sustained heat out of your stove, but it comes at the cost of a large, noticeable flame.

Maintaining A Safe Fire 

Your coals will indeed remain below ground in this fashion. But there’s a few things you need to be concerned about when it comes to cooking fire safety. Chief among these is making sure that you ALWAYS use DRY firewood. Wet wood not only produces a lot of smoke that actually contains a large percentage of steam. The moisture boiling out from burning wood is the actual culprit in the snapping and crackling of fire.

It also sends burning embers into the sky and large chunks of coals across your campsite. Never use wet wood or living material in your fire if you want to avoid these scenarios. If your fire should get too large, you can possibly smother it by placing something inflammable over the fire. But it’s always a good thing to keep water and a shovel nearby.

Properly Putting Out Your Fire

StealthFyre Modular Survival Stove system
A double barrel Dakota Fire Hole recently pulled from the sand after cooking Chicken Fajitas on the Gallatin River.

Water is always the best option for safely putting out your flame. But it can sometimes be too valuable to waste unless it’s an emergency. When using your StealthFyre stove as a Dakota Fire Hole, you may want to pull it up and move on before the fire dies out. You can easily pull the stove up out of the soil with a couple of strong sticks.

When you pull your stove up, the soil will fall in to cover your coals and smother the fire. You can then set the stove to the side and finish off the task of burying the fire. Do this by filling in the hole you dug with the soil you put to the side. Tamp this soil back into the hole with your feet to pack the ground. If you have a sod plug to replace, do so and tamp it into the ground as well.

Congratulations! Cooking fire safety is critical to a successful meal in the great outdoors. You have just safely deployed your StealthFyre stove, cooked a great meal, and left no trace of your passing!

Are You Ready To Join The Revolution?

All of our stoves are made in the United States on a small scale, and that means the utmost quality. Each kit is made of durable 304 Stainless Steel sheet. Cut, not punched. StealthFyre is not a mass produced product by a massive corporation. It’s the innovative ambitions of an American family wanting to make this wonderful new idea available to the world.

When you purchase your new StealthFyre Modular Survival Stove, you’ll be doing more than getting a great deal on one of the coolest new outdoor products this side of the 21st century. You’ll be doing even more than supporting a small American business. You’ll be helping to bring a revolutionary new era in outdoors adventures to the entire world.