One of the quintessential components of camping or hanging out in the backyard is to have a roaring fire. While an outdoor fire pit provides warmth and comfort, what happens when you need to put the fire out? If you want to extinguish the flame safely, there’s a five-step process. Spoiler alert, it’s more than just putting water on it and walking away.
If you don’t have water, don’t worry. We’ll also discuss other methods of putting a fire out so you can stay warm, dry, and safe.
How to Put Out a Fire Pit
If you’re camping, it’s essential to put out a fire pit properly. Without the correct methods and steps, you may leave some hot embers, which could start a wildfire. Even if you’re trying to extinguish your fire quickly, you don’t want to rush and go too fast. Here are the steps involved in putting out a fire safely.
1. Don’t Add Any More Fuel
You should start this step a while before you’re ready to put the fire out. This way, you can enjoy the warmth while also letting the fire die down. For example, if you have a wood burning fire, simply stop adding logs or sticks about 20 minutes before you’re ready to extinguish it.
2. Let the Fire Die
As the fire loses fuel, it will start to die until there are barely any flames left. Before moving on to the next step, let the embers cool down as much as possible. If you’re trying to put it out quickly, just wait until there are no more flames. Ideally, the coals should be gray, not red or orange, before moving to step three.
3. Douse the Remaining Fire With Water
The easiest way to extinguish a wood burning fire is with water. Be sure to douse all the embers until they’re no longer smoking or steaming. There’ll be a lot of smoke at first, so plan accordingly. If possible, use your hands to test the ambient heat from the remaining embers. If they’re still pretty hot, add more water if possible. Don’t touch the coals directly, though, as you could burn yourself.
4. Stir the Ash and Embers
It will take a while before the center of the embers cools down, even after adding water. So, stirring the fire pit helps the heat dissipate. You can also discover any other hot spots that may still need dousing. Ideally, you can put water over the embers, stir, and add more. Doing this a few times ensures there won’t be any errant sparks that could fly off and ignite something.
5. Check the Fire and Your Surroundings
Once the fire is thoroughly extinguished, make sure it’s also relatively cool. The embers won’t be cold for a while, but you shouldn’t have to wait until then to leave your pit.
That said, you should check your surroundings and ensure there isn’t any fuel around. Examples could include dry leaves, twigs, or fallen branches. Wind can carry tiny sparks, igniting these fuel sources and starting a wildfire.
If you’re using an outdoor fire pit at your house, you shouldn’t have to worry as much about your surroundings. Still, make sure there are no low-hanging trees or anything similar hanging over the pit.
How to Put Out a Fire Pit Without Water
Water is one of the best options for extinguishing a fire because it absorbs the heat rapidly and turns it into steam. However, there are a few other ways to put out a fire pit if you don’t have water. If you recall science class, fire needs three things to survive – oxygen, fuel, and heat. So, removing one of these elements should put a fire out almost immediately.
1. Cover With Sand or Dirt
Sand and dirt are also excellent options for extinguishing a flame. With enough dirt, you can choke the fire out so it can’t get any oxygen. Depending on the size of the fire, you may need quite a bit of dirt. If you’re out camping, you may be able to scoop some handfuls from the ground surrounding the fire pit. One primary advantage of using dirt is that it reduces the amount of smoke because it snuffs the flame immediately.
We don’t recommend this method if you have a pit at home. The reason is that the sand and dirt will still be left inside the pit, making it harder to start the next fire. That said, if you can clean your pit after each use, you don’t have to worry about this problem.
2. Try a Snuffer
Another way to choke a fire out is to cover it with a snuffer. For a large fire pit, you’ll need a pretty big cover to extinguish all the flames. There must be no gap between the snuffer and the ground. If there is, the fire will continue to burn, potentially melting or burning the snuffer. Even if this piece is made of heavy-duty metal, the fire will make it too hot to pull off. There will also be a lot of smoke with a snuffer, so be ready for it when you pull it off.
3. Turn Off the Fire Pit (Gas Only)
If you’re using a gas fire pit, you can’t use water or dirt to extinguish it. Using these methods could damage the system, breaking your fire pit so you can’t use it anymore. With this option, there will still be some residual heat, so be careful to keep flammable and meltable items away from the pit.
4. Use a Fire Extinguisher (Last Resort)
Water and/or dirt are the preferred methods for putting out a fire. However, if it’s starting to burn out of control, a fire extinguisher is the best method. You should only use this option if you don’t have enough water or dirt to chock the flames out naturally. An extinguisher should be saved for last because it creates a huge mess that is hard to clean up. Also, if you’ve never used one of these devices before, you may accidentally spray too much and make an even bigger problem.
What You’ll Need to Put Out a Fire in a Fire Pit
Realistically, all you’ll need to put out a fire is a water source. If you’re out camping, you should have a canteen or gallon jug that’s only meant for fire extinguishing. In this case, you can put any water in the container, such as from a river or pond. Since you’re not going to drink it, it doesn’t have to be clean.
If you don’t have a water jug handy, you should have sand or dirt ready. When camping, soil should be plentiful nearby. However, if it isn’t, you should collect some dirt in a bag or container and set it next to the fire pit. This way, you’re ready to put the flames out immediately if necessary.
FAQs About Putting Out a Fire Pit
Although putting out a fire pit is pretty straightforward, there are some elements to consider before starting. Here are answers to several burning questions that you may have.
Can You Leave Embers Burning in a Fire Pit?
No, you should never leave burning embers in a fire pit. As they burn, they’ll release sparks, which can get carried in the wind and ignite a nearby fuel source. As a rule, if the embers are still glowing or red, you need to continue extinguishing them.
Can You Leave a Fire Pit Burning Overnight?
No, you should never leave a fire pit burning overnight. When camping, it may be tempting to keep a fire going while you sleep, but again, sparks could fly off and start a fire. Also, if you’re sleeping next to the fire pit, they can catch your camping materials on fire, such as your sleeping bag or tent. If you’re worried about the cold, you must bring thick clothing and blankets. You can also use a cold-resistant tent to help yourself stay toasty.
Next up: Want to keep the night going? Find out how to keep a fire pit going!