View Full Version : how to keep a fire going longer?

Ian H
12-07-2009, 02:00
How do you keep a fire going for as long as possible? i normally either stack the wood on top or in a triangle shape, im guessing this is wrong though as it burns quite quickly!

Can you make a fire that will last through the night and still have at least an ember for the morning?

12-07-2009, 03:07
Could you not try reducing the amount of air and thus the fuel consumed would be less?
Only way i can think of doing that is having a partial earth covered fire which would be unearthed in the morning??

Are you asking this because you need to have the fire warming you all night or just so that you have an active ember to start a new fire in the morning??

IE are you asking so that you don't have to relight a fire , say from Bow-drill and so wish to be able to rebuild the fire the next day without starting from scratch


Is it because you are finding the fire has gone out by the time you wake up the next day and you need it to burn slow and long to warm you through out the night?

12-07-2009, 03:19
If you want a hot fire for warming up or drying off while you are standing near it then place the wood standing up in a loose teepee structure. This allows lots of air in and produces tall flames, but less coals. If you're trying to ward off hypothermia this is how you want to build it, tall and hot to get yourself sorted out.

If you want a fire that burns longer and lower lay the wood flat and parallel to each other on the fire (////). When you lay the next layer make it perpendicular to the first layer (\\\\). This tends to close off the air passages and limits the burn. The fire will burn lower and form a deeper bed of coals.

What I do normally is burn my fast burning woods while I'm up and pile up larger pieces of hardwood for a slow burning fire when I go to bed.

"Can you make a fire that will last through the night and still have at least an ember for the morning?"

If you want coals in the morning there are several things you can do. Burn hardwood in your night fire. Sometimes I'll place a largish (6x8 inch?) flat rock on a deep part of the coals or dig out a small hole, fill it with fresh coals and cover that with the rock. Just make sure you get your flat rock from someplace dry, not sitting in water or wet ground. Mac

12-07-2009, 04:21
I've taken a largish Fomes formentarius, allowed it to catch and start smoldering, and then carried it in a simple birch bark container, with damp sphagnum moss around it. If you maka carry and handle (spruce roots) you can walk around feeling like an overaged choir-boy.

Just filling a metal container with embers and ashes will also last a long time; my guess is that raking all the coals and ashes together could last the night.

Ogri the trog
12-07-2009, 04:40
For a fire site to remain viable throughout the night, it has to burn long or hot prior to being left. So your fire the day/eveing before is paving the way by heating the ground around it so that the potential embers have very little work to do other than survive the night being protected by hot soil and ash around them. This brings its own risks of your fire spreading underground through peat or roots though!
You should, of course, have the kindling and fuel for the morning fire sorted out and ready to go, but there should also be an excess of fuel so that, should you wake during the night (bio breaks for instance), there is something to hand ready to put on the night fire and extend it's life.
At least if you have a fire planned for the following day, you only have its ignition to worry about in the morning.


Ogri the trog

15-07-2009, 03:58
Use hardwoods instead of soft. For the fire to burn overnight with minimal attention: build a hardwood fire, place wet wood and then green wood on top (all hardwoods, the embers last longer).

If you just want embers to start a morning fire, just "bank" the fire. i.e. bury hardwood embers under several inches of ash; topped off with an inch or so of dirt. Grandpa taught me to bank a coal fired furnace that way using just ash. I think the addition of a layer of dirt works better with a hardwood campfire.