How to Put Out a Fire without Water? [Guide]

Having a campfire is a necessity when it comes to most outdoor trips. Especially if you plan on camping in the outdoors, you will need a fire for many things. You will need it for cooking, warming up, and light. But before you start the fire, you need to think about how you will put it out later!

Here is the interesting twist: water can be scarce when it comes to outdoor trips. You need it for drinking and hygiene, and you might have it in limited amounts. If that is the case, you will want to preserve as much water as possible for drinking and hygiene. Instead of putting out the fire with it, you will have to develop another way to do so.

Do not worry. I have a few simple methods that you can follow to put out a fire without any water. You can use a snuffer, some dirt, sand, or mix the dirt and sand with the coal. You can also position the fire so that you will make it easy for yourself to put it out. I will discuss all these methods in the step-by-step guides below.

Leaving the fire to put itself out, especially when camping in an area with a high risk of fire, is a big no-no. You have to use one of these methods to extinguish the fire before leaving the area. So, make sure that you read the guide below and remember everything I mention in them when you set out on your next trip!



What Puts Out a Campfire Besides Water?

Let’s be clear about this – to put out a fire correctly and in a matter of minutes, you need water. Using water to put out a campfire is the easiest and quickest way to do it. If you happen to have enough water, you should use it to put the fire out.

A campfire consists of hot ashes, an open flame, burning wood, and burning coals when you think about it. All these things have in common that they are hot, and this hotness makes the fire keep burning. When you take out the heating element by pouring water on the fire and cooling it down, you immediately make it stop.

So, water is very effective in extinguishing fires. If you happen to be camping near a stream or camping in an area where you have access to water and plumbing, you can use the water to extinguish a fire. In all other cases or when you do not have that much water available to you, you can resort to using other things.

Think about this for a minute – another fire element is oxygen. The fire needs the oxygen to keep burning, so it will stop if you take that element away from it. So, if there is something that you can use to cover the fire completely and extinguish it like that, that would be great!

This is where the so-called snuffer comes in. This is a metal lid that you can use on the fire to extinguish it. It would help if you made sure that the lid was large enough to cover the entire fire or metal fire pit. At the same time, please try to remember not to touch the hot metal as it can burn your hands.

Having said all that, I have covered the way to extinguish a fire by taking away its heat and its oxygen. The last element that makes the fire is the fuel, so taking that out of the equation can also help you stop the fire. This is the easiest thing – stop adding fuel, and the fire will stop. It might take a while to stop and cool down, but it will get there with time.

Last but not least, you can extinguish your fire pit or campfire by throwing dirt or sand over it. This is another method that limits the oxygen and the heat of the fire. You can also use the position of the fire to make it extinguish faster. If you want to learn more about these methods, make sure to check out the detailed step-by-step guides given in the next section!

What Is The Quickest Way To Put Out A Campfire? - 3 Methods - Step-By-Step Guides

As promised, I will give you a few detailed guides on the best ways to put out a fire without water. Remember that all these methods will not be as quick or as effective as water. You might have to spend a few hours waiting for the fire to extinguish. But under no circumstance should you leave the area without the fire being completely stopped or extinguished!

If that is clear, you can direct your attention to another thing. That is the fact that you need to carry some tools on your trips, like a shovel. You can use any shovel for all methods below, but you must have one. You cannot complete any of the methods without it!

A shovel can also come in handy when preparing your campsite for the tent or various other reasons. Once you make sure that you have packed it, you can set off on your trip. Before you leave the trip, you can extinguish all existing campfires or fire pits using these three methods below. Let’s get into them and see what they are all about!

Method 1 – Extinguishing a fire with dirt or sand

The first method involves throwing any dirt or sand that you will find around the fire over its flames. That will make the fire slowly die, but it will take a more extended period for it to do so. For this method, as mentioned before, you need a shovel. After you make sure that you have one, here is what you need to do:

Step 1 – Burn the wood

Considering that you have had the fire going on for a while, you might have some wood still burning in it. You can use that wood for cooking food or warming yourself up while it is still going because you will need to start burning it out soon.

What you should do is stop adding any dry wood or regular wood to the fire and fuel. You should leave nature to take its course and let the fire burn out. As soon as you see that there are no more flames and that the fire is getting cooler, you can move on to the next step.

Step 2 – Start throwing sand or dirt

Take your shovel and start searching your campsite for dirt that you can use. It needs to be regular dirt, not moist, that you throw over the fire. You can use as much dirt as you need depending on the size of your campfire.

Using the shovel, throw the dirt directly over the fire. Also, try mixing it with the coal. This will help the coal cool faster and thus, stop producing heat and fire. The dirt will also limit the amount of oxygen the fire is getting.

Once you see enough dirt in the fire pit, you can move on to the next step.

Step 3 – Wait it out

This is another important step that you need to follow. Even though there are no more flames in the fire, that does not mean that it cannot reignite at any time. Taking the proper measures to extinguish the fire includes waiting for a few hours to see that it cools down completely.

This can take a while, so you can consider packing or chilling for a while during that time. Go around the fire now and check if there is heat coming from it. Once there is no heat in the fire, it will be safe for you to leave the campsite and head home.

Method 2 – Extinguishing fire by mixing coal with dirt

This second method has some similarities with the previous one. For this method, you will need a shovel and some dirt. The twist is that you will be getting the dirt from somewhere else. Keep reading to find where that somewhere is!

Step 1 – Let the wood burn

Depending on the moisture content of the wood you are using, the fire can burn longer and hotter or shorter and cooler. If you are using dry wood, the fire will be hotter, but it will also burn quicker. If you are using moist wood, you will have to wait quite a while before the wood burns out.

Whatever the case, you need to wait for the wood to burn out, meaning there should be no more open flame in the fire pit. After seeing that that happens, you can move on to the next step.

Step 2- Use the shovel to dig through the ashes

As you know, the wood that burns turns into embers. After leaving embers burning for as long as needed, you can go over them with your shovel. That will divide them into smaller pieces, some of which will even turn to ashes.

To help extinguish the embers that are still hot, you can turn them around and mix them with the ashes. Use the shovel to dig through the fire pit and mix the ashes around. This will help extinguish whatever flame or heat is still in the pit.

Step 3 – Mix the ashes with dirt

After doing all this, you need to throw dirt on the fire. This time, instead of getting dirt from elsewhere, you will be using the dirt under the fire pit. So, this means that you will be using that shovel yet again!

Take the shovel, make sure that you are standing in a safe place outside of the fire pit, and try to reach the bottom of the pit. With the shovel, start taking the dirt from the bottom of the pit and mix it with the ashes in the pit. Take as much dirt as needed, depending on the size of your fire.

You can do the mixing at once or divide it into several sections. As long as you feel some heat in the fire, you will need to keep adding dirt. Stop only when you are sure that no more air is making its way to the embers.

Step 4 – Wait it out

As a final step, you can wait it out. This step can be optional – if you have managed to extinguish the fire thus far, you will be ready to leave the campsite. But if there is still some heat in the fire, make sure that you sit around and wait for the fire to extinguish completely.

Only when you are sure that there is no more heat in the fire can you move away from the campsite. Use your shovel one final time to turn around the dirt and ashes. It is better to be safe than sorry, so take all measures needed before you head home!

Method 3 – Extinguishing a fire with the help of its position

This method is somewhat different from the previous two because it starts before you start the fire. With this method, the position is everything. So, make sure that you follow the steps and do it right!

Step 1 – Prepare the terrain and dig a hole

First things first, you need a hole for the fire. Inspect the terrain, find a good spot where you can dig a hole, and start digging. You will need a big hole – one that will fit all your wood. So, make sure that you prepare the terrain properly.

Step 2 – Start the fire in the hole

After you have the hole prepared, you can start making the fire. This should be easy as you can start the fire regularly. It will not take any extra effort. It might even be easier than in other situations to do this.

Add as much wood as needed and keep the fire going for as long as needed. Before you get to bed that night or leave the campsite, consider starting with the extinguishing. When you are ready to do that, move on to the next step.

Step 3 – Let the wood burn out

As mentioned before, to extinguish the fire you will need to let the wood in it burn out. Do not add any fuel or new wood to the fire at this point. Whatever is in there will be enough to heat you before putting the fire out.

Step 4 – Add the dirt to the fire

To ensure that the fire gets extinguished, you will need to add some dirt over it and stop the flames. In this case, you can use the dirt that you prepared when digging the hole. You will not need to search for dirt or do more shoveling – you can use the dirt that is right next to your fire!

This is what makes this method so much easier when it comes to extinguishing. Using the shovel, take the loose dirt and start throwing it over the burnt wood and embers. Use as much dirt as you need to cover the fire.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should not stir the embers and the dirt. By doing that, some embers might come on top and reignite. So, add the dirt over the fire and let it cool down.

Step 5 – Check before leaving

It might take a few hours before the fire pit cools down. You can go around the pit and check to see any heat coming from it. You will be able to tell when there is no heat coming from the ground anymore.

When that happens, you will be free to leave the campsite. The chance of the fire reigniting is slim to none, but still, check that everything is okay before you leave.

kettle is heated on a campfire


Thank you for sticking with me through this guide! I hope that I could answer all your questions about fires and how to put them out with or without water. Again, pouring water over the fire is the easiest way to extinguish it, but that is not always an option. You can try using a snuffer or throwing some dirt and sand over it to make it stop.

Let me know in the comments below if you know any other effective ways to put out fires without water. I would love to read all about your experience with this and read the stories of your camping trips. So, do not hesitate to share that with the other readers and me!

Andrew Mullen

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