How Hot Is A Campfire: Everything You Need To Know

Surely, in your long experience in camping, you might have asked yourself this question - how hot is a campfire? Hearing stories of how a campfire burn a forest makes you think that campfires are no joke. Its maximum temperature may be too high that you should be careful when making one in your outdoor adventure.

I’ve been a camper for a long time now. In my observation, the temperature of a campfire may be influenced by several variables, like the type of wood and airflow. I’ll try to talk about these factors and answer the ultimate question.​


The Quick Answer

So, how hot is a campfire? It can reach the highest temperature of 2,012 degrees Fahrenheit or 1,100 degrees Celsius, especially when the wood campfire is stoked well.​

Placing a tin can over a campfire is a bad idea because campfire can melt tin and lead with a temperature of 930 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, keep in mind that aluminum melts at 1,221 degrees Fahrenheit while paper and wood starts to burn at 451 degrees Fahrenheit. This could all mean that leaving a campfire burning may start a fire if you’re being careless.

Color Determines The Temperature Of Flame

How Hot Is A Campfire: Everything You Need To Know

Did you know that color may give you an idea on how hot the campfire can be? Temperatures may rise slowly during combustion and flames happen only when vaporized fuel mix with oxygen.​

If the flame becomes deep red, then the temperature may be around 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit or 600 degrees Celsius. If orange-yellow, the temperature might be roughly 2,012 degrees Fahrenheit or 1,100 degrees Celsius. Take note of these signs because again you don’t want to burn the whole forest.

Aside from temperature, the color of flames may also rely on the chemical properties of the fuel. As chemicals react with oxygen, the characteristic color may depend on the amount of energy emitted during the oxidization process. For instance, barium outputs a green flame while carbon and hydrogen generate blue flame.

Variables That May Influence The Temperature Of A Campfire​

Size Of Wood

Variables That May Influence The Temperature Of A Campfire

There are different sizes of wood that you can use to create a campfire. As a general rule, start with the smallest wood to catch fire easily.

Tinder is the smallest type of wood. Because of its small size, it heats up and catches fire easily. It burns the lowest temperature and proves to be useful for starting campfires.

Twigs, on the other hand, are a bit thicken than tinder. This type of wood can be used to keep the fire burning once the twig has started the fire. Due to their bigger size, they slightly have a higher temperature than twigs.

Firewood is the biggest among the three. For this reason, it burns the highest temperature but catches fire the slowest. To quicken its ignition, you can break it into small pieces.

Oxygen Availability

The amount of oxygen in the air might affect the burning rate of your campfire. A low oxygen in the air will definitely slow down the burning rate and lower the campfire temperature. As it happens, be careful when a sudden blow of wind occurs because the slow fire might instantly explode into flame.

Species Of Wood

The different species of wood may also influence the temperature of your campfire. Light wood species seem to ignite quicker than their heavy counterparts, hence burn at lower temperatures. Examples of light wood species include fir, willow, and pine.

The best species of wood for campfire are the hardwood or heavy ones because they burn steadily and slowly. Most of them have little moisture and generate a substantial heat.

What Are Some Of The Best Wood For Campfire?

What Are Some Of The Best Wood For Campfire
  • Oak: Assuming it’s dry, this type of wood generates sizable heat and burns slowly and steadily. You can find this wood almost everywhere in America, making it a popular choice for campers.
  • Hickory: This dense firewood burns very well because it holds little moisture. It even burns hotter than oak.
  • Cedar: If your aim is to stay warm during a chilly night, use cedar wood for your campfire. This might lack in flame size, but it generates excellent heat and a nice aroma.
  • Apple: Another wood that produces a pleasant aroma is apple. Assuming it’s dry, it burns slowly and steadily.
  • Ash: If you don’t like a lot of smoke, try ash. This wood has little moisture, burns easily, and even burn when green.

Prerequisites In Making A Campfire

Use A Fire Ring

Prerequisites In Making A Campfire

The first thing that you need to do is find a place where to make your campfire. Many of the developed campgrounds have designated fire rings or fireplaces. You should do your campfire on a fire ring because it will reduce your impact and contain your fire.

Now, if you’re camping in a backcountry, use an existing fire ring that other campers have left behind. Before you begin, remove all flammable materials near your fire pit. The ideal base is sand, mineral soil, or gravel.

​If you can’t find a fire ring, improvise and make a mound. Simply, build a circular, flat base of mineral soil using your sanitation trowel. The height of the mound can be between 6-8 inches.

Gather Firewood

Prerequisites In Making A Campfire

Once you have the fire ring or mound fire ready, gather some firewood. Remember that the best firewood to use is hardwood or heavy species of wood because they burn slowly and steadily. Since firewood doesn’t ignite easily, start with small twigs, or dry leaves then follow with small sticks.​

If you’re staying at a campground, you can buy firewood at nearby stores. If you’re traveling over 50 miles, don’t bring wood because some campgrounds may prohibit it. You may call the campground in advance for further advice.

For backcountry campers, search for firewood far from your site. Don’t try to break off branches or cut live trees because they’re used as shelters for birds and other wildlife. Gather only wood that is thinner than your wrist.

Popular Styles Of Building Fire​

Teepee Style

The teepee style of building fire begins by loosely piling a few tinder in the center of the fire ring. Light a small cone of kindling around the tinder and add larger firewood when the fire is going strong.​

The Pyramid

The pyramid style begins with the largest logs on the bottom layer then slightly smaller logs on top. You can add more layers as long as you use smaller logs as you go. Put the kindling and tinder above.

Log Cabin

The log cabin starts by making the base with two bigger pieces of firewood in a position. Next, add a layer of two slightly smaller logs in a perpendicular position. Keep adding a few more layers, getting slightly smaller as you go. Finish with tinder and kindling on top.​

Lighting And Extinguishing Fire

You can light the tinder with a lighter or match. Once the tinder catches fire, gently blow at the base of the firewood assembly to give oxygen. This will further ignite the wood and increase the flame intensity.​

When you don’t need the campfire anymore, pour the fire with water. Stir the ashes and pour more water. Repeat this often until the ashes are cold to the touch.

If you want to the basic way of building a campfire, watch this video.​

Final Thought

How hot is a campfire? It can reach the temperature of 1,100 degrees Celsius or 2,012 degrees Fahrenheit. Tin, aluminum, and wood can burn at this rate. To contain your fire, make sure that you build your campfire on a fire ring.

Have you tried building a campfire, let us know your thoughts in the comment section. Please share this article with your friends.

How Hot Is A Campfire: Everything You Need To Know
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