A Dakota fire hole is a simple fire-building method that emits low light and creates very little smoke, so you don’t need to worry about unwanted attention in a survival situation. The fire pushes hot air from the fire exit points through the top of the pit. This creates suction and draws more oxygen into the hole, increasing the heat. Because of this, you don’t need much firewood compared to a standard fire ring. This technique works well in rainy situations when dry firewood is hard to come by.
Dig two holes in the dirt the same depth. Enlarge the bottom of the second hole so it breaks into the first hole. This creates a “U” shape underground. Fill one hole with firewood cut or broken to fit. Include some small twigs as kindling. You can make fire starting aids by soaking cotton balls in vaseline. Use a ferro rod or other spark producing technique to get the fire started.
Once burning, you can add a couple of pieces of thick, wet wood to act as supports over the hole for your pot, so it will not tip over, spilling whatever you’re heating (like water) onto the fire. It takes a little over 5 minutes to bring two cups of liquid to a boil.
When you are finished cooking, push the dirt back into the holes. This will quench the fire. Refill both holes and replace the grass divots to leave no trace. This type fire is not a warming or signal fire as both flames and smoke are minimal.
Billie Nicholson, Editor