How to build a fireplace
Today I'd like to share with you how to build a safe and traceless fireplace. This is part of our Campfire hike, but the knowledge is to important not to be shared. I like this type of fireplace. It has low edges, so the heat spreads nicely and you can dry clothes by it, warm yourself while you cook. You are able to fully customize it by size and placement. Though I really couldn't stress it enough - build it close to water. Have you built one of these? Or do you keep to the already prepared fireplaces or a gas-stove?
If I know that I won't return to the site where I'm building - or if there's a lot of people coming to this place - I always remove the fireplace afterwards. Once it's done, there's nothing but a small patch of sand and wet ashes on the ground.
I had a fireplace like this when I lived in a tipi, but then it was protected from the weather and i used it on daily basis (so it was continuously sealed with old ashes). Beneath the heavens, you might need to repair this fireplace every now and then if you choose to leave it. But I strongly recommend to remove it. Not only for the looks, but also more importantly to see wether or not some embers have fallen through and dug themselves into the ground. If there's a black patch underneath your fireplace, dig deep in it and soak it completely. Put more water on it than you think is needed. I'll write more about ground-blazes in the upcoming post about forest fires.
Some fire safety before we start:
- Always respect Fire bans and avoid making open fires when it's dry and windy. A fire ban can be very local, so check the websites of the municipality or county administrative board.
- In Sweden there are also special rules in Nationalparks and Nature reservs as all visitors are obliged to inform themselves about. You'll find these rules on the website for the Nationalpark/nature reserv or on a sign in connection with the park.
- Make your fire small, you seldom need a bonfire to boil some pasta. Start small and build upon it. Extinguish properly with lots of water - and don't Pee on it! It's disrespectful and disgusting. You can remove the fireplace when you are able to kiss the wet coals and stones. You see - don't pee on it. ;)
- a pair of working gloves in leather.
- something to cary water and sand in, like a bucket, plastic shopping bag or a pot.
- eventually a small planting spade
I start by creating a circle with stones and try to puzzle them as close together as possible. I find these stone under overturned roots or in banks of sand. I avoid taking stones from the water. They might explode when heated, not like a bomb - but small splinters fly and can be dangerous enough.
Then i fill the circle with smaller stones and puzzle them together so they cover as much of the ground as possible. Same thing here, look for stones on land.
fill the gaps between the small stones and the outer circle with sand. If you don't have a beach nearby, look for sand beneath overturned roots. The sandy earth looks yellow, grey or ocra like in the picture above.
Ready to rock! :) If I've a stream or lake close by, I bring water in a bucket/pot or plastic bag for extinguishing the fire. If I didn't bring any of it i take a bouquet of fine, dead spruce branches, dip them in the water and wet the embers. Otherwise I wait for the embers tog o out. If using twigs from the surrounding, it doesn't take long. Then I offer my drinking water on the last ashes before putting my glove on and tearing the fireplace apart.
When did you make a campfire last time? Please share on instagram and tag us @tracelessintiveden, so that we may join you in the wild!
Burn your campfire in peace
Photografer 2,3,4: Erik Stormark