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I was wondering if there was a way to make a fire pit and start a fire in it, and have a way to protect the ground beneith it as much as possible.

I don't really know how I could manage to do that, but whatever item you'd advice me to use, it has to be lightweight, and not too big, something I could have in my backpack.

Maybe there's absolutely no way to do it, but I was just wondering. I hate destroying the floor when I make a campfire.

Thank you !

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@ppl Apologies. I didn't see that the OP posted an identical question here already. The answers from Sustainability SE were copied over. A moderator should be able to merge the questions. Else, this post could just be deleted. –  Earthliŋ Sep 1 '13 at 0:36
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5 Answers 5

If you absolutely must have a fire, reset your thinking from "fire pit" to "fire mound"

Creating a fire mound is a great way to enjoy a back-country fire with little to no impact to the ground / vegetation.

  1. Carry a small sheet of plastic, burlap, or a section of an old fire shelter, or anything of the like (it shouldn't get hot enough to burn if your mound is constructed properly, though embers might land on the edges)
  2. Find a previously-disturbed source of mineral soil (a downed tree root ball, a sandbar in a creek, etc.) near your camp
  3. Lay the sheet out on a level bit of ground (rock/bare soil preferred but not necessary)
  4. Make a flat "mound" of mineral soil 3-5 inches thick on the sheet, making it a bit wider than your expected fire
  5. Build a small twiggy fire on top of the mound
  6. When finished, scatter the ashes charcoal twigs (or pack out if required)
  7. Return the mineral soil back to its source

BAM! Absolutely no trace of your fire, except maybe flattened vegetation where the was. The mineral soil mound insulates the ground so grass underneath is unharmed.

For areas that don't have available mineral soil (slick rock?), you might consider a small fire-pan (think disposable aluminum turkey roasting pan) to minimize char/scar from the fire.

For more info, check out Leave No Trace principle 5.

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Well, insulating the floor from a campfire, which usually has 900-1200 degrees Celsius and burns for several hours, is quite difficult. The soil itself does a decent job, but of course that's the part that you don't want to burn... Restoring life to a scorched patch of soil will take a while, but relatively speaking a couple of scorched patches won't make much of a difference to a big forest. I would guess that collecting garbage or some other efforts would help the forest a lot more.

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There's two schools of thought here that I know of - the first is to avoid lighting a fire where there's ground you could easily damage, and the second is avoiding the heat getting to the ground. Combine both if you can.

As far as the first goes, I won't say a great deal about that because beyond the obvious (being open minded about where you camp and looking around for a good spot) there isn't much else that can be done.

As far as minimising the heat getting to the ground, when I want to take this approach I generally pile rocks on the base of the campfire, then light it the fire on the rocks. It's not a foolproof approach, and rarely leaves the ground completely trace-free, but it's a darn sight better than the mark you get just having a bare fire on the ground.

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Also, use pre-existing fire rings when possible! :) –  ppl Aug 31 '13 at 17:27
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If you are looking for a cooking system for backpacking the Caldera Sidewinder Ti-Tri have the option of using a titanium floor for this exact purpose.

In the interest of facilitating Leave No Trace wood burning practices, Trail Designs offers two styles of titanium floor plates to go under your Ti-Tri systems. The "split floor" is designed to go with the standalone Sidewinder, or the single piece floor is optimized to be used with the Inferno.

These stoves are for small twigs burning and works great as a cooking system. However, I do not have experience with their floor plates. As for the 'Inferno' it does a good job at fully burning the fuel/twigs and only leaving ashes.

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I'm not sure what you are afraid to destroy with you fire. You should remove any plants around the fireplace anyway. The bigger problems are the remains of the fireplace, such as partially charred logs, which can stay there for months. They are more an aesthetic problem, and they will be eventually utilized by the nature, but it takes much time.

From my experience, if you let the logs burn completely, and you'll scatter the ashes, the remains of the fire will disappear very quickly. If you extinguish fire with water, they will hold log. Of course, you can scatter the ashes only when they are cold, for example the day after (in winter you can do that quicker, since you can throw them into snow, reducing fire risk to null).

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