How to Dig a Dakota Fire Hole

Native Americans used a Dakota fire hole to hide cooking fires from their enemies. These small pits also excel in windy conditions and consume less wood while burning hotter than open fires. Plus, the layout provides a great platform for cooking. Here’s how to channel your inner Sioux.

The fire hole works by sucking fresh air into the combustion chamber. Hot air rises from the hole, drawing air through the air vent and into the base of the fire. The cycle is self-sustaining, and digging the air vent on the upwind side of the fire hole helps capture the breeze like the air scoop on the Bandit’s Trans Am.

Dig the fire chamber first. Excavate a pit 1 foot in diameter and 1 foot deep. Now widen the base of the chamber a few inches so it has a jug-like shape. This lets you burn slightly larger pieces of wood.

Dig the air tunnel next. Start about a foot away from the edge of the fire hole, on the upwind side, and carve out a mole-like tunnel 5 or 6 inches in diameter, angling down to the base of the fire chamber.

That’s it. Top the fire hole with a grate or green saplings to hold a pot over the flames. When you break camp, refill the holes and leave no trace.

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