Fire is an essential component to surviving in the outdoors, and everyone should know how to start a fire without the use of matches. Something that people often overlook in regards to starting a fire is the fire pit or fire ring inside which they’ll be building their fire. Having a good fire ring to house your fire is as important as the fire itself. In this article, we’re going to take a look at how to build a great fire ring using whatever items you have at your disposal.
The Importance of Building a Fire Ring
Ultimately, knowing how to start a fire is probably more important than building a fire ring. However, depending on how well you build your fire ring will impact the effectiveness of your fire and the different ways that you can use it. Here are some of the main reasons that having a good fire ring is a must when in survival mode.
A fire ring helps contain the heat.
Once you have successfully built your fire, it can be challenging to maximize its heat. Having a good fire ring will help you block in as much heat as possible and direct that heat where you want it to go. An inefficient fire ring will allow too much heat to escape in areas where you don’t want the heat to leak out.
A fire ring helps to stop your fire from spreading.
If you’re stranded out in the woods for several days and nights, you’ll want to keep your fire running continuously through the night. This will help you to stay warm and keep predators away from your campsite. However, having a fire burning throughout the night presents a safety hazard for you and the environment around you. A good fire ring will keep your fire from spreading to your sleeping area and the wilderness around you. You want a fire, but not a forest fire.
You can use your fire pit for purposes outside of just staying warm.
Staying warm is important for survival, but a good fire ring should be multi-purposed. A good fire ring will direct the smoke and firelight upwards, making it easier for planes to see it from above. If you use rocks or similar material for your pit, you can also dry your clothing and cook your food on those rocks based on the heat that your fire gives off.
You can maximize the lighting potential of your fire.
Not only will the light of your fire provide something for planes and overhead aircraft to look for, but you can also use it in place of a flashlight or lamp. By strategically placing holes and gaps in your fire ring, you can allow light to illuminate certain areas of your campsite.
What materials can I use for my fire ring?
When you’re just trying to stay alive in the woods or any other environment, you’ll have to use anything at your disposal for a fire ring. However, some materials are certainly better than others when building a safe and effective fire.
Rock or sandstone
The perimeter of your fire ring should be constructed out of rocks or sandstone, or a similar material. Rocks and sandstone are the perfect material to construct a sturdy fire ring due to their ability to contain heat, stop your fire from spreading, and because they heat up and are multi-functional. If you have access to rocks or stones of any sort, that should be your first choice for building a fire ring.
Bricks or pavers
Depending on where you are in the world, there’s a tiny chance that it’s a previously inhabited area, and there are bricks or pavers nearby. While the chance of this happening is slim, they’re ideal for fire ring construction because of how easy they are to stack and build upon. Rocks and stones can be difficult to build upward because they usually aren’t flat, unlike bricks.
Sand or mud to fill in the cracks
If you want to maximize your fire ring, you’ll want to turn it into a pit and build multiple layers on top of each other. You can build a bigger and hotter fire when you do this, but you also need to take additional precautions. Because rocks and stones don’t stack together in an airtight manner, you’ll need to fill the cracks between the rocks with sand, dirt, or mud. Doing this will trap more heat and give you the ability to build bigger and better fires.
Dry wood and kindling for your fire
It goes without saying that you’ll need kindling and dry wood to build your fire and keep it going through the night. A fire ring isn’t much good without a fire.
Digging a shallow hole to build your fire ring isn’t mandatory, but it has an added benefit. By digging down a couple of inches, your fire ring will trap more heat and have a stable foundation.
How to build my fire ring.
Once you have your materials gathered and you’re ready to start a fire, it’s time to build your fire ring or pit.
1. Clear the area
The first thing that you’ll want to do is clear an area for your pit and the immediate area around your future fire ring. Your ring should be anywhere from 2 to 4 feet in diameter, and you’ll want to clear an additional area of 10 or so feet around your fire ring. Clear away leaves, rocks, stones, wood, and anything that could potentially catch fire.
2. Dig down if you want to
Next, you can optionally dig down a few inches where your fire pit is going to be. Digging down provides a firmer base and perimeter in which to set the stones of your fire ring. It can also allow you to build your ring higher and does a better job of trapping heat.
3. Build the first layer of the ring
Whether you decide to dig down or not, your next step is to start constructing your fire ring. Rocks and stones are the best options in most survival scenarios. Actually building your ring is fairly straightforward. Simply form a circle with your rocks or stones and press them together as tightly as possible to trap the most heat.
4. Build up and pack in the heat
From there, you can build your fire ring as high as you want and add as many layers as you think is necessary. Make sure that you are packing the spaces in between with mud, sand, or dirt as you’re building your ring up. Ideally, you’ll have a water source nearby to make your packing material wet. Wet sand or dirt will pack better and provide something slightly sticky for your rocks and stones to cling to. Wet sand and dirt will make your fire ring more airtight and allow you to build your ring higher.
5. Start the fire
Finally, once your ring is constructed just as you want it to be, it’s time to gather your wood and kindling and start a fire. Make sure that your burning materials are dry so that you can build the best and cleanest fire possible.
Can I build a fire ring inside of my shelter?
Fire rings and fires inside of shelters are actually an even better way to stay warm while you’re sleeping. The main thing to remember when starting a fire in an enclosed space is leaving an area for the smoke to escape. Trapped smoke inside your shelter could cause serious damage and potentially be fatal if you inhale enough of it.
Increase Your Chances of Survival
Hopefully, you’re never put in a scenario where you’re stranded in the woods and need a fire to survive. Most of the time, when people are in situations like that, it’s as part of a survival exercise, and they already have most of the knowledge that they need to survive. If, however, you get put into a situation like this, you now know how to build the best fire ring possible to increase your chances of survival.