Advantages of the Dakota Fire Hole

August 25, 2016, by Ken Jorgustin


A Dakota Fire Hole is simply a method of building a fire that utilizes a number of advantages over other types of fires. It will burn hot, it will use little wood, and will release very little smoke (stealth).

First though, here is how to build a Dakota Fire Hole (pit)…


How to dig a Dakota Fire Hole

Dig a hole about a foot in diameter and a foot deep. It is helpful to enlarge the bottom of the hole by several inches to accommodate larger/longer pieces of firewood. This will be the chamber of the fire pit.

Note: A great little shovel for digging the hole:
Genuine US Military Original Issue Entrenching Shovel

Next you will dig the airflow tunnel. Dig the airway tunnel beginning about one foot away from the fire chamber hole. The diameter of the airflow hole should be about half-a-foot and will angle down towards and into the bottom of the main fire chamber. Ideally this airflow hole should be upwind from the main fire hole.

Fill the fire pit partway with kindling and light the fire. Gradually add sticks to build a stronger fire.

The fire creates a suction which is drawn into the airflow tunnel, resulting in a much hotter and efficient burning fire.


Advantages of the Dakota Fire Hole

The fire burns very hot.

Less firewood is needed than conventional fire methods.

Food or water will cook faster.

The efficiency of the burn creates less smoke, which means less visibility.

This method is particularly useful and manageable if it is very windy compared to other methods.

The fire burns below the surface of the ground which shields the flame from being seen, especially at night.

Since the fire is below the surface, green sticks across the top of the hole, or other methods can be used to easily support cookware.

When finished, the evidence of a fire is easily removed when you fill the holes with dirt and cover the surface with natural surrounding material.



Build the Dakota fire hole near the base of a tree to help diffuse the smoke, which will help avoid detection.

Choose an area with favorable soil. Avoid rocky or rooted areas.

Be wary of soil which may ooze with moisture or fill with water.

Note: I originally posted this article several years ago, however this technique of fire-building is worth a repeat, along with any of your new comments…