How Hot is a Campfire?

If you’re planning on cooking over a campfire, you should be aware of the temperatures a campfire can reach. How hot is it, anyway? In this article, we’ll talk about the average temperature of a campfire along with the elements that influence its heat. Also, keep in mind that some metals can melt over a campfire. To find out more, keep reading this article.

How Hot is a Campfire?

So How Hot is a Campfire? A well-stacked campfire can reach temperatures of around 1650°F (900°C). However, this depends on the wind and the type of wood that is being used. Average campfires have temperatures of over 1000°F (573°C), while the outdoor festival bonfires reach temperatures of over 2000°F (1093°C).

We’ll go through several factors that influence the temperature of a campfire later on. Here’s a short answer about campfire temperature.

What is the temperature of a campfire? There are two different temperatures to be aware of.

  • Internal Temperature: The average temperature that a campfire can reach in flames is around 1650°F (900°C), which is known as the continuous flame zone.
  • Cooking Temperature: Temperatures of around 600°F (320°C) are expected above the flames (known as the thermal plume zone), where there are no visible flames. This is the area where you place your meal for cooking. The temperature drops as you move away from the flames.

Bigger campfires (such as bonfires) may reach temperatures above 2000°F (1093°C).  Obviously, you’re not going to cook over a full-fledged bonfire. A standard campfire will heat up to the point where even aluminum can melt, but a cast-iron frying pan doesn’t.

You’ve probably seen what happens when a soda can is tossed into a fire: it melts and practically vanishes, leaving only the top and the bottom of the can be solid.

The Average Melting Points For Metal

For reference, below are some typical metal melting points.

  • Aluminum Alloy: 865-1240°F (463-671°C) – In this case, the melting point depends on the alloy type.
  • Aluminum: 1220°F (660°C)
  • Cast Iron: 2060°F (1127°C)
  • Stainless Steel: 2750°F (1510°C)

Note! Watch out for the camping cooking equipment that’s made of aluminum, which might melt if it is placed near a fire. Rather go with stainless steel, you’ll be able to use it again after it cools down.

As stated previously, some camping cookwares are constructed of aluminum so keep it away from direct flames to avoid damaging it. The temperature of the flame is indicated by its color.

Cooler temperatures are recognizable by red, whereas higher temperatures are indicated by blue flames. The most intense flames of them all are white flames.

3 Things That Affect Campfire Temperature

The temperature of the fire will vary, as it does with all flames, based on a variety of factors.

  1. Oxygen flow: A campfire in a metal fire pit will not become as hot as one that has a steady supply of oxygen.
  2. Fire size: the amount of fuel used will determine how hot the fire may become.
  3. Fuel type: softwood, hardwood, or resinous wood, and the dryness of the wood (seasoned or green).

A good fire requires three ingredients: heat, air, and fuel. A big, fast-burning fire stacked high will burn far hotter than a steady, well-prepared fire. This is the type of fire we want for cooking.

Things To Build a Good Campfire

Build a Good Campfire

Now, let’s talk about how to start such a fire. It requires three steps:

  1. Tinder: Small branches, dried leaves, and other flammable materials that quickly catch fire and create heat to ignite the bigger pieces of wood. Tinder can also be made from paper, cardboard, or a fire starter.
  2. Kindling: Next up is the chunkier pieces of wood. They will burn more easily than the logs you pile on top. Bigger, thicker twigs, tiny branches, or slivers of your primary fuel chopped off larger logs can also be used. As they burn down fast, these will begin to generate coals, providing an excellent foundation for the fire.
  3. Fuel: This is usually the larger, harder wood that is put over the top of the fire, which requires a lot more heat and flame to get it to burn, but once it does, it will burn down well to produce an ideal fire for cooking.

When cooking, you’ll want the heat to be even to help you cook consistently, the same as when you cook on a stove. It may appear spectacular to load everything on at once and create a roaring fire, but it is not optimal for cooking.

A hot campfire may reach temperatures above 1650°F (900°C), which can melt aluminum, and it will quickly consume your fuel supply and destroy the food.

If you want your cooking to be successful, you’ll need to burn down your fire a little to have a nice flat base of coal. Begin with kindling and tinder.

Tinder will heat up and catch fire on the kindling, which will then produce enough heat for your larger pieces of fuel to burn. As the logs burn, they form an even heat foundation, similar to a stove, and you can adjust the temperature by adding more logs.

It’s important to consider the sort of wood you’ll be using. Dry, old hardwood burns far hotter and longer than fast-burning softwoods, such as pine.

Because green, freshly cut wood has a lot of juice and isn’t completely dried out, it burns at lower temperatures. For cooking purposes, you’ll need some nice hardwood logs that burn steadily.

At What Temperature Wood Burns?

Temperature When Wood Burns

The heat of a campfire should never be underestimated. Even with the simplest bonfire, the temperature can get extremely high and dangerous. The typical bonfire temperature must be approximately 600°F (315°C) for the fire even to start.

This temperature is the best wood fire burning point, and reaching it will be the time when the majority of the wood will begin to burn quickly.

This releases gases, which burn and raise the temperature to above 11000°F (593°C). You’ll be left only with charcoal and ashes after you’ve burnt all the gasses. These gasses burn at temperatures of 2012°F (1100°C) and above.

You can imagine how hot this is when you know that aluminum melts at roughly 1215°F (657°C).

How Hot is the Hottest Part of a Flame?

We already mentioned the colors of the flames and their relation to their temperature of it. Red is often associated with heat, but it isn’t actually the hottest section of a flame. The blue and white sections will be the hottest, and their temperature can reach 1670°F (910°C).

How Hot is the Coolest Part of a Flame?

When the fuel and oxygen are barely interacting, the flames are the coldest. There isn’t enough heat being produced in these kinds of flames. Therefore, how can you estimate the maximum temperature a campfire can reach?

It appears the answer is in the color of the flames. When your campfire has a deep red hue, it means it is at roughly 1112°F (600°C). When the flame turns orange or yellow, the temperature reaches 2012°F (1100°C).

Related Article: The Best Portable Fire Pits for Camping

Watch Out For Wind Closely

Wind can affect campfire

The melting point and color of the flames will be affected by the wind. The wind increases the amount of oxygen in the catch fire and decreases the moisture on the wood’s surface. These factors make it more flammable and cause it to melt at a higher temperature.

Keep in mind that the direction of the wind might shift suddenly and take someone off guard. Be careful when it’s windy because it can generate sparks, which can be quite dangerous.

A basic guide for optimal heat.

You will need these three things to ensure that you make a good campfire:

  • Oxygen
  • Fuel
  • Heat

Select the right size of wood.

Choosing the right size of wood, you’ll use is an important step when making a campfire. Make sure you have kindling, which is wood that’s about as wide as your finger. You can progressively add heftier pieces of wood to raise the temperature once it ignites.

Chopping wood with a hatchet gets difficult once you move to larger chunks. However, when you think ahead and bring prepared wood with you, a few logs might extend the life of the fire.

If you are going on a camping trip, this article will also be good to read: How to Purify River Water For Drinking (5 Methods).

Step-by-Step How To Build A Campfire

The proper way to build a campfire

There are a variety of methods to build a fire triangle, all of which will have an impact on how hot the fire may get. The key is to ensure that oxygen can reach the type of wood, which is accomplished by stacking the wood correctly.

  • Begin by placing your type of wood in the center of the area where you will build your campfire pit.
  • Here’s one life hack: if you don’t have Tinder, Doritos (or any other chips) will do the trick.
  • Arrange the kindling in a teepee formation above the tinder. While you’re building this, the wood diameter will gradually rise, retaining the inner campfire warmth.
  • Build another teepee on top with the smaller wood you’ve gathered.
  • The bigger teepee will gradually crumble after the fire ring is lighted.
  • After that, you may add larger logs of wood to the fire, allowing for a rising fire temperature high enough to melt.
  • Watch out for the color of the flame and the oxygen flow, since these are the indicators of the temperatures a fire may reach.

Safety Measures Are Necessary

The warmth of a campfire isn’t the only thing you need to be aware of. Sometimes there are more pressing and delicate concerns at hand. Massive wildfires have recently erupted from such campfires in the United States and Australia.

Such fires do great damage and cost a lot of money, not to mention the stress they cause to families and nature.

Californian wildfires in 2019 are anticipated to cost approximately 20 billion dollars. Australian ones caused damage of 75 million dollars. At times of dry, windy weather, you should be even more cautious and reconsider building a campfire.

Wind shifts, a fire igniting a tent, and falling into a fire are all potential hazards. When it comes to organizing a campfire, safety should always come first. It’s crucial not to build a campfire that’s bigger than you’ll need for cooking.

If possible, keep the fire as small as possible so that you can quickly put it out if something goes wrong.

Final Thoughts

Now that you are familiar with the temperatures a campfire can reach, it is very important to be careful not to cause a fire. Today anyone who goes camping or on some trip will most likely build a campfire.

So be careful! I hope we helped you in this article to get a better picture, and if you have additional questions feel free to comment.

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