#12 Chambers of Fire

20 Points

Dig a fire-pit that uses an air hole to turbocharge the heat. Use it to sizzle sausages, toast marshmallows or make yourself a cuppa – you’re halfway to a hangi!

Read the instructions

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For information on fire bans in your area check out the NRFA website.

 

What to do

Your mission is:

Build a fire pit in your backyard that uses an extra hole for mega air power. Check out the notes for the tool list you need (above) and fire it up!

1. WATCH AND BURN!

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2. ADULT EYES ON THE PRIZE!

Safety first on this one team! Going out in nature starting fires can have some pretty extreme consequences so this activity MUST be supervised by an adult.

First: check there are no fire restrictions by going to the NZ Rural Fire Association website and looking up your area. You may need an adult to apply for a permit for you.

You’re generally not allowed to build open fires on beaches, foreshores, parks and DOC reserves — so this is one for your backyard or private property ONLY.

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3. GET IN THE CLEAR

Locate your firepit at least three metres away the edge of your property, trees, bushes, buildings and hedges.   

Clear the ground of any dead trees, dry grass or dry root systems (cos it will stay hot in the ground for hours).

You also need to have water (garden hose, bucket, bottles) handy as an extra safety measure.

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4. DIG IN

You’re gonna be digging two holes.

The first hole (the ‘fire hole’) is a solid 25 cm wide x 40cm deep. Dig it?!

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5. KEEP DIGGING!

The second hole is your airway tunnel (around 15 cm wide), which you dig starting about 30cm from the edge of your fire hole.

You wanna dig down then across, so the airway tunnel connects with the bottom of your fire hole in a u-shape. 

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6. SAVE THE DIRT!

Not from extinction though (it’s dirt, not a whale!). Put the dirt to one side: this is for putting the fire out later, and for leaving your backyard as you found it!

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7. YOU'RE THE FIRE STARTER

Line the bottom of the fire hole with dry bark or a row of dead sticks. Place your fire-starter (e.g. a scrunched up newspaper ball or cotton ball or dry grass*) in the middle where you can reach it, and build a wee teepee of small sticks over it.

*NEVER use petrol or flammable liquids to start a fire.

With an adult watching, light the teepee with a match – a long match or kitchen fire lighter can be helpful for shorter arms!  

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8. SMOKE SIGNALS

Slowly add more sticks until your fire is established. (Don't use wood any thicker than your wrist as it'll take too long to burn down to ash to be able to put out your fire.)

Once it's going well it should not be producing much smoke. Now see what happens to the fire (and the amount of smoke) when you cover the air-hole. Amazing eh? See the 'What's Happening' tab for why.

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9. COOKING WITH FIRE

Once you’re burning, you can BBQ sausages. Grab your handy adult to place the grill or oven rack over the flames and get sizzling. Once your fire is going it will be hot so you'll need tongs or a stick to turn the sausages over.

If you don't have a grill, skewer some marshmallows on a stick and make a marshmallow kebab (see below). 

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10. FIRE-PIT HOT DOGS

When the sausages are cooked, wrap it up in some bread, squirt on some T-sauce and feast on some fresh-from-the-fire-pit hot dogs! YUM! 

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11. CUPPA TEA ANYONE?

Or get a billy (camp pot) and boil up some water to make a cup of tea as reward for all your hard digging work. Use your handy adult to handle the hot pot.  

Wild hint: double up on your wild factor and use the hot water to complete the Kawakawa Tea Party mission.

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12. MARSHMALLOW KEBAB!

You can also use your fire to toast marshmallows (dessert after the hot dogs or a meal in itself!). 

Tip: make sure your skewer stick is a green one: if it's too dry you'll toast more than your marshmallows!

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13. STEAM MAKER

When you’re done and dusted, make sure to put the fire out properly with water. Left over embers can hold the heat for up to 48 hours so really go crazy with the water. Watch as the heat from the fire turns your liquid (water) into gas (steam).

Get an adult to be your heat sensor!

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14. PACK IT UP, PACK IT IN

Then fill in both the holes with the dirt you saved from when you were digging it (you did save the dirt eh?).

This double-confirms the fire is out and triple-confirms you’re a responsible Wild Eyes citizen – leaving as little impact on the environment as possible. 

What's happening?

FIRE: SO HOT RIGHT NOW

Harnessing the power of fire would’ve been a REAL GOOD DAY, some 400,000 years ago when humans started doing it: allowing them to cook food and obtain warmth and protection from predators.

It might have confused the Croods, but cooked food enabled our brains to grow… so see if you can use your brain-filled noggin to make your very own controlled fire pit.

FIRE FUNDAMENTALS

I've got fire under my wings, so I know a bit about fire, but you should get the fundamentals of fire here.

And check out this video from our mates at Science Learning Hub about building fires safely outdoors.

HOT AS A HUNGARIAN HORNTAIL!

Dragon Challenge 28

– Is your fire hotter than a dragon's burp!

Your fire-pit is as powerful as the breath of a Hungarian Horntail. What makes it the best bush burner? Just like us, fire feeds on oxygen. The air inside the fire hole gets heated by the burning sticks, and so it rises. This creates suction which pulls air into the bottom of the fire hole from the airway tunnel.

So now the fire hole has a constant supply of oxygen coming from the airway tunnel that leads to a super-efficient, super-hot fire! 

SMOKE SIGNALLING

The extra oxygen allows for complete combustion – so there is little or no smoke (which is important if you work for the secret service or SAS).

You can control the fire by opening and closing the air tunnel. See what happens to the fire (and the amount of smoke) when you cover the tunnel. These Native Americans are signaling their mates – it is like text messaging but with fire! I wonder what a smoke signal emoji looks like?

The Smoke Signal 1905 by Frederic S. Remington

– The Smoke Signal, by Frederic Remington, 1905

LEAVE NO TRACES

The heat is more concentrated in our fire-pit design because it’s contained in the hole with the fire directed upwards. This means you can do more with less wood!

Plus it’s low impact on the environment – it’s underground so safer when it’s windy, and it's easy to fill in with the dirt that you kept from digging the hole (after you’ve made sure it's well out using water from a hose or bucket!). 

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– Wait where did I leave the car keys...?

All FIRED UP?

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I'll have mine medium rare please!

There are some times when a fire-pit really isn’t what you’re looking for – when you’re trying to heat yourself and others up (because the heat in a fire-pit doesn’t spread as widely as a normal fire) or when you’re signaling for help (cos with the right wood, the fire-pit's fire is too efficient and there’s hardly any smoke)! 

But you wanna burn some marshmallows? A fire-pit is the pit for you. 

Inspiration

ORIGINAL FIRE STARTER

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– Maui and the magic fingernails

Your Dakota fire pit is an easier way to get fire than when Maui had to steal it from the fingernails of Mahuika! Read about the legend here.

To this day the Kahu, our native hawk, still has red singed feathers on the underside of its wings to remind us how close Māui was to death when he stole fire from Mahuika.

So, probably best not to steal fire, eh! Or anything, really, eh.... 

KAI COOKER

A hangi is an earth oven. Māori, Samoans, Tongans and Pacific Island tangata have been cooking this way since way back. A hangi is a way of slow cooking kai over several hours underground. No, they weren’t trying to hide their veggies, they were making them awesome. 

A Dakota fire pit isn’t quite a hangi, but it’s a stepping stone to underground cooking, where you literally use err ... stones to heat your kai! For hangilicious info on how a hangi works click here

AHI AWESOMENESS

Harnessing fire is one of the skills that anthropologists reckon make humans humans (although in Australia they reckon their falcons are also deliberate fire-starters-check it out here!). 

The bracken fern that came up in the ashes of a burn-off was a big source of kai for early Māori – the roots were used in an old school boil up!

'Ahi' is the Māori word for fire ...

STEELE LOUIS HAKI AHI MAORI FIRE STICK 1988.13.1 b

Louis Steele ‘Haki Ahi, Maori Firestick’ 1918 

Big backyard burn-off

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– Your fire had better a LOT smaller than this one!

Early Pākehā in New Zealand also used fire to burn off the dense forest cover. It was to clear the way for settlement, so the land could be turned into farms and houses.

An unfortunate side-effect was that for a heap of our native manu mates, it was more like burning down the house!

FIRE-STARTING WITH BEAR

Your mum or dad might use a lighter or matches to fire up the bbq but they're no good when they're wet (the lighters or your parents). As Bear shows us here flint stones can be used to start fires in all weather (rain or shine) and were the original fire-starting tool way back when. Whatever you use: adult supervision is a must!

Fire is serious and its power always has to be seriously respected!

What other members have done:

#12 Chambers of Fire

Marshmallows of Doom!

Marshmallows of Doom!

coo3.12
RedCow
Me and my sister dug for ages. The hard part was that there were lots of rocks (get it? Hard rocks?! Ha ha!) I burnt three marshmallows because they dropped in the chamber of fire!
#12 Chambers of Fire

Chambers of Fire

Chambers of Fire

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RJAngry
I dug a fire pit in the front lawn and my friends came over and helped. We ate sausages and marshmellows.
#12 Chambers of Fire

FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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WIN 20170319 16 13 52 Pro.3
perfectbanna 40
By perfectbanna

FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#12 Chambers of Fire

flame on

flame on

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Bobmon
made a fire in our bacyard
#12 Chambers of Fire

Sparking fire

Sparking fire

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Hailstorm
First i dug 2 holes both 40cm deep and 35cm square, 25cm apart. Linked with an air tunnel. Built the fire in one side and lit it up. It went great, we boiled a pot of water on it.
#12 Chambers of Fire

hot!

hot!

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JGspy
It was fun outside but it was hard digging the holes. It took us ages.We roasted marshmallows and cooked bacon and eggs for lunch. We discovered that blowing in the hole made the flames rise.
#12 Chambers of Fire

The hot flames

The hot flames

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Drumazor
We cooked lunch on our fire pit. And we enjoyed having lunch outside in nature. WE had lots of fun while doing it
#12 Chambers of Fire

Sausage fire pit

Sausage fire pit

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NickFlash
We dug two holes, then dig through the middle, we collected wood and put it in. We lit the fire and grilled our yummy sausages they were tasty!
#12 Chambers of Fire

Chambers of Fire

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thebuglover 70
By thebuglover

Chambers of Fire

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thebuglover
Good idea with the oxygen pipe. I made the air pipe slightly deeper, so that the ashes would be separated from the fire. You can just use a garden tool in a moist garden. We smoked the basil a little!
#12 Chambers of Fire

Our back yard sausages

Our back yard sausages

Wildwallys
What we did: Dug two square holes got sticks and lit the fire, found some bricks and put a old wahing line wire over it. What we would do next time: not bother using the washing line wire.