Skip to content

Stuff You Should Know: The Dakota Fire Hole

The Dakota fire hole is an unusual and lesser-known style of campfire that is made via holes in the ground. The fire typically burns efficiently, is difficult to smother, and creates less smoke at the cost of being difficult to set up. This technique is mainly utilized however as it’s difficult to spot. Since light is contained and smoke is reduced the Dakota fire hole is taught to members of the U.S military to prevent them from being spotted by enemies.

The fire hole itself is made up of 2 holes that are connected to each other. The first hole is usually dug with a width of about a foot to a depth of 1-2 feet for a small, personal fire. Then, another smaller hole is dug about a foot away and is connected via a tunnel to the other hole. The second hole is necessary for this technique to work; oxygen would not be able to reach the fire otherwise. The only entrance to the fire (the top of the hole) would have heat and flames pushing any away. Having a hole connected to the fire offers a way to pipe oxygen into the flames.

A side view example of a Dakota fire hole being used to cook food.

The fire burns hotter as the nearby earth protects the flames from the elements. The fire is immune to wind, and no cold air surrounds the fire. This design improves the efficiency of the combustion process, meaning fewer materials need to be burned. Since smoke is the result of inefficient combustion, far less will be created compared to a typical fire. Naturally, the fire is far more difficult to set up than most other styles, and without any tools, the process can be grueling. Regardless, the Dakota fire hole offers a lot, and the ability to have a difficult to spot fire means the effort might very well be worth it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *