How Hot Does A Campfire Get? Some Points To Consider

At the end of a long day of hiking, there’s nothing like sitting round a roaring fire with your fellow campers to chat, to cook and to relax. But have you ever wondered exactly how hot that campfire can get?

The temperature of a campfire is determined by several variables so here I will consider the question of the maximum temperature you can expect your campfire to reach as well as some of the factors that affect it.

The Simple Answer

Wooden Charcoal Burning In A Campfire

First of all, to give you a simple answer to this question, campfires can sometimes get hot enough to melt aluminum. The melting point of aluminum is 1221°F so we can place the upper temperatures for a campfire somewhere around here.

However, most of the time, campfires do not reach a high enough temperature to cause aluminum to melt so we can assume that a more normal temperature for a campfire is somewhat less than this.

The melting point of silver is 1763°F and it is unlikely that any campfire would be able to reach this temperature – although personally, I’ve never actually tried to melt any silver over my campfire!

There is a widely-held belief that the color of flames can tell you the temperature of a fire but this is not strictly true. The color of a flame depends just as much on the type of fuel as the temperature and so the color of the flame is not a reliable guide.

Having said this, just as an indication, if you are using a charcoal fire, a deep red color would indicate a temperature of around 1100°F and orange-yellow would indicate a temperature of around 2000°F – although, again, a regular campfire is unlikely to reach such a high temperature.

Factors That Can Affect The Temperature Of Your Campfire

Campfire In The Snow Of Winter

There are several factors that can affect the temperature at which your fire burns that you should be aware of so here I will list the most important ones for you.

1. Type Of Wood

Stack Of Fire Wood

There are basically three types of wood that you can burn on a fire: Tinder, Kindling and Fuel wood. 

  • Tinder is the very smallest type of twigs that you can collect and it catches fire the easiest. This type of wood is useful for starting fires and burns at the lowest temperatures.
  • Kindling is slightly thicker than tinder and is used to get the fire burning once the tinder has caught. It burns at a higher temperature than tinder.
  • Fuel wood is the main fuel for your fire once it has started and burns at the highest temperature of the three.

2. Species Of Wood

Pine Logs Fire Wood On White Background

Stack Of Pine Logs Firewood

The wood from different species of trees has different properties and this affects the temperature at which it burns. Just as an example, you will find woods like willow and fir burn at lower temperatures than pines. Green woods also produce much less heat.


3. Air Flow

Most people are aware of the fire triangle and that to start a fire you need the three elements, fuel, oxygen and heat. The basic precept of fire-fighting is that if you remove any one of these elements the fire will go out.

If, on the contrary, it has a poor supply of oxygen and the air is still, it will burn at a lower temperature.

Safety Tips

Wood Burns In Campfire Ring

A Campfire Ring

Fire is inherently dangerous and some basic safety precautions should be taken to ensure everybody is able to enjoy pleasures of a campfire in safety.

  • You should make sure you clear a large area around the fire of anything flammable that may allow the fire to get out of hand and potentially cause a forest fire
  • A campfire can continue to burn at high temperatures for several hours so make sure that you don’t sleep too close
  • Make sure that any children on the camp are properly supervised. When you make a campfire, it is a great opportunity to teach kids about campfire safety
  • Always use a fire ring if one is available
  • Never build a fire that is larger than you need or that is too large to control​

Conclusion

To summarize, we can say that the temperature of campfires can vary depending on several different factors but they will rarely exceed a temperature of around 1200°F, the melting point of aluminum, unless you specifically set out to make a fire that will do so.

The reasons we build campfires are to keep warm, to cook food and for the simple pleasure of spending an evening around a campfire. For these purposes, a campfire is not required to reach extreme temperatures and almost any fire will do.

Here are two links to sites I found with information on how to construct a campfire:

What do you think? Do you have any information or opinions about the temperature of a campfire? What do you think the best temperature for cooking on a campfire is? 

As always, I’d love to hear from you so please leave me your comments and if you like my article, don’t forget to share!​

Julie McClain
 

Chief editor here at Outdoorzer. I'm an outdoor lover and ever since I was a little girl, I've worked hard to learn all I could from my Dad about Camping, Hiking, RVs and surviving in the woods.

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