Put Out A Campfire

Photo of author
Jay Elliott

Chief Camping Officer

Building and gathering around a campfire are one of the most exciting and rewarding activities to engage in when camping. A campfire is essential for camping for many reasons: It provides you light when the night darkens, warmth on a cold evening, a platform to cook meals, and a venue to spend quality time with your fellow campers.

However, with the positive things it provides comes the significant responsibility required to ensure safety.

The main danger of fire is the possibility of it spreading, especially when surrounded by dry and combustible material. Therefore, it is essential to be responsible for correctly putting out your campfire when not in need.

Shovel and water

One of the most well-known ways to extinguish a campfire is using water and, optionally, a shovel. To do this, fill a container up with water, preferably a bucket, then soak your campfire pit with water at the end of the night. Using the shovel or stick, spread the ashes and embers apart from each other to ensure that you extinguish the entire area.

In addition, for assurance, you may scrape off the outer burnt layer of the wood and sticks you have used and see if there is still burning taking place.


Sand is an excellent substitute for water when putting out a campfire. All you need with this process is a shovel. The first step is to leave the fire to die.

Then, scatter the burnt wood and twigs apart with a shovel to ensure that no embers are burning beneath its ashes.

Next, smother the embers with sand or dirt to quench the fire entirely. If the fire is not yet out, avoid burying it with sand or dirt as this may result in further ignition of fire and make the sand/dirt scorching hot.

The last step is to feel if the burnt wood and twigs are extinguished and cooled. If so, you have entirely quenched the fire, and if not, repeat the process till the heat is gone.


Another effective way to quench a campfire is with mud.

The steps in this method are similar to the previous two ways. First, patiently wait for the fire to stop burning. Next is to scatter the pieces of burnt wood and twigs apart and scrape the outer burnt areas.

This action is to ensure that embers are exposed when we dump the mud on top of it. The third step is to smother the embers and ashes with mud. Lastly, place your palm above the fire pit and feel it if any heat is still released. Once there is none, it only means that you have successfully extinguished the fire.

Should you put out a campfire?

Yes, it is best practice to extinguish your campfire when not in use. Despite being warm and cozy, a campfire can result in various hazards and risks.

Keep in mind that when camping, you are around dry and very combustible materials such as wood, leaves, and twigs that only need a spark to ignite a forest fire.

Moreover, nature is unpredictable. There is no way to tell when it will be windy – a simple blow can spread fire to a forest. It is crucial to remember these three components of the ignition and combustion of fire: fuel, air, and heat, which are all present when camping.

Can you let a fire pit burn overnight?

A safe practice among campers is never to leave a fire unattended. One responsibility that comes when creating a campfire is keeping an eye on it.

Campers observe this practice because fires can quickly spread, especially when you’re out in the woods. Remember, nature is full of highly flammable and combustible resources, which is exactly why it is so crucial to extinguish a fire pit before sleeping.

You may think that you have fully put out the campfire because fire isn’t longer visible, but it may still ignite if there are any ashes and embers left. That is why it is essential to know the proper and safe way to quench a campfire to prevent unwanted disasters. 

Can you sleep with a campfire on?

It is perilous to leave a fire unattended, especially when in the wild. A well-known and very applicable saying by experienced campers is, “if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.” This saying is very practical when camping in the wild; it directly refers to fire and all the danger that comes with it.

Fire can be very lethal, especially during dry seasons and windy days. It may spread quickly through the dry and combustible resources around you, putting not just you, your family, and friends in danger but also the environment and the wildlife living in it. Therefore, it is safest and recomended to extinguish your campfire before sleeping.