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Indian Fire Cooking holes

Discussion in 'Bushcraft' started by sarawolf, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. sarawolf

    sarawolf Monkey++

    Indian Fire holes for cooking
    First I selected a site where I would be sure there would be some wind. Most of our winds come from the south so I ended up behind the garage and hidden from the road. But where I would be sure of a nice breeze.

    Then I started to dig. I decided to use the post hole digger as it was here and I was doing this at home. A shovel or camp shovel like a fox hole shovel also works. So the holes were around 8 inches across.

    I dug both holes about 11 inches down; anywhere from 9 to 12 inches works and my holes were about 11 inches apart, 9 or 10 inches works also.


    I started to dig down inside the holes to join them.

    A hand width dug with my large spoon worked well for the joined hole for air to get to the second hole where you will lay your fire.

    I collected dry pine needles, sticks and pine cones. I also pushed in some dryer lint and dry moss from the trees. Fire starters can also be used, charcoal etc.

    I also collected some flatish home grown lava rock that we have plenty of for my cooking hole. The pot will be placed on these rocks and that way air still gets in from the top also to allow air flow. You can also lay a rack on top of the rocks for your pots or # 10 cans to sit on.

    I made sure I had some dry bark and pieces of wood to add to my fire. It didn't take much to get a good hot fire going.

    Next I let the fire burn for a a few minutes to make sure it was going good and nice and hot.
    I didn't even use the rest of this bark the fire got hot with very little to keep it going.
    Also if there is a lot of wind you may need something to help direct the wind toward or away. A board, plywood or say a tarp held up with branches works.

    I covered my pot as my dog was nosing around and I didn't want any thing blowing into my lunch.

    Within 5 to 6 minutes my food was good and hot.

    Before I went back inside all I did is shovel some of the dirt from digging the holes back into the fire hole to smoother the coals. Done.

    I covered both my holes with a piece of sheet metal because I saw the rain storm was headed in as predicted. Anything bigger then the holes works.
    This kind of works like an in ground rocket stove.​
    If you are moving to another area while camping just fill them back in.
    Items needed:
    1. Shovel, camp shovel or post hole digger
    2. Hand trowel: optional
    3. Small hand hoe: helps get dirt out of the hole easily
    4. Large strong spoon
    5. Rocks
    6. Matches
    7. Fire starters - Optional (but i love them)
    8. Dry small stuff for starting your fire
    9. Pots, lids, pot holder, spoons etc
    10. Something to block or direct the wind if needed.

  2. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Indian Fire Hole

    That's a great post sara....nicely illustrated with graphics, and clearly explained. I have saved the post as an .mht file for future reference. Nice to see you posting again on sm.

    It's a good low signature method of cooking and heating up grub. Most of the combustion is below ground level so it emits lower light than a conventional above ground fire...forced draft oxygen feed, so burns fuel more efficiently. Because the fuel burns more efficiently, the fire is less smoky, so smoke and smell signatures less. All in all, a good sneaky way of cooking food. (requires less fuel too, so saves time as well...all good things. Probably not the kind of fire though for a SAR beacon, unless you are in E&E mode in Indian country.

    Edit: This method of cooking may not be recommended for peat type soils....you may just start a peat fire that may not be able to be put out easily. Make sure that you dig down to mineral earth.

    modernwoodsman likes this.
  3. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

  4. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

  5. solid method of cooking both for the stealth and also for the quality of the 'stove" aspect of them.

    one of the reasons a small shovel or trowel is in my kit most of the time.

    Beats heck out of a cut digging stick.
    chelloveck likes this.
  6. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Here are a couple of Youtube clips on Dakota fire-holes

    Here are a couple of Youtube clips on Dakota fire-holes.

    Dakota fire pit part two - YouTube

    Start this one at about 50 seconds to miss the opening promo footage. UNfortunately you have to put up with a minute or so about the demonstrator bitching about cheap folding shovels.

    Dakota Hole Fire - YouTube
  7. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    Dakota holes were developed on the prairies to keep from setting the place on fire. The wind is often brisk so in keeping the fire low you are safer. The design gives you a forced air heating effect and is very hot.
    modernwoodsman and Brokor like this.
  8. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Yup, not to mention a Dakota fire pit is stealthy. Worth every minute of preparation.

    I remember camping at a campground one summer, and the owners gave me loose instruction on where I could camp. The next morning I found out I was camping off their property and may have given their neighbor reason to complain. I assured the campground owner that I left no trace. They went up to check and returned dumbfounded..."Didn't you make a campfire?" they asked. Sure enough, nobody could tell I was ever there.
    modernwoodsman, sarawolf and BTPost like this.
  9. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    What a go Broker. Started taking a small piece of plastic sheating with us to put loose dirt on. When finished you replace the dirt, replace the cut sod, and rake the site with a couple of sticks---no trace.
    modernwoodsman likes this.
  10. Great posts guys! I like using the fire hole also because you can set a pot down in the hole and cook. However, you will need dig a small breathing channel down one side of the fire pit so the pot does stop air flow.
  11. ExHelot

    ExHelot Monkey

    There is a variation for woodlands that entails digging the holes near a tree so that what little smoke there is will be dispersed through the branches and leaves. This works well even without a breeze since there is usually an updraft near a tree due to its structure. Be careful not to build near large roots as they may become damaged and harm the tree.
  12. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I've never tried these but will give it a shot. Thanks for sharing
  13. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    The same concept of draft is what "propels" "rocket stoves". Get plenty of chimney effect and just a little heat goes a long way--and exactly where you need it.
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