How hot is a campfire?

Being able to build the perfect campfire is an essential skill for any outdoors enthusiast. From providing warmth to cooking food, there are countless uses for a campfire. Understanding what factors affect the temperature of your campfire can help you get the most out of it. In this article, we will dive into the specifics of what impacts the temperature of your campfire and how you can use that knowledge to your advantage. 

In general, the temperature of a campfire depends on several factors, such as the size of the fire, the amount of fuel used, and even weather conditions. A small fire might have an average temperature between 600°F (315°C) and 900°F (492°C), while a large fire can reach temperatures of 2,000°F (1093°C). The hottest spots of the fire are near the center and in the areas where burning material is falling from above.

Campfire wood set on fire
Burning campfire wood, Source: Unsplash

Campfire Temperature

The heat generated by campfires comes from the combustion of wood or other materials, which is an exothermic reaction. This reaction releases energy in the form of heat, light, and sound. The fire consumes oxygen from the air to produce carbon dioxide gas, water vapor, and dust particles.

The temperature of a campfire can also vary depending on the weather conditions and environmental factors such as wind speed and humidity. A campfire will burn hotter on a dry day with little wind than it would on a humid day with strong winds. Additionally, fires lit in areas surrounded by trees and shrubs may not reach the same temperatures as those built out in an open area.  This is due to reduced oxygen levels and reduced airflow.

It is worth noting that the hottest part of the campfire is not the red flame but rather the glowing embers of charcoal and ash at the base. This area can reach temperatures much higher than those near the flame. This part of the campfire is “seen” burning a white flame, so it is best to avoid direct contact with these areas when tending to a campfire.

Factors That Affect the Temperature

Type of Wood Being Burned 

The type of wood being burned can significantly affect how hot your fire gets. Hardwoods like oak, hickory, or cedar burn hotter than softer woods like pine or spruce. This is because hardwoods contain more energy-rich cellulose fibers.  These energy-rich cellulose fibers ignite easily and burn for longer periods of time. As such, hardwood fires tend to reach higher temperatures than softwood fires. 

Fuel Source 

Another factor that plays an essential role in how hot your fire burns is how much fuel it has access to. This means that if you have access to plenty of dry kindling and logs, you’re likely to have a hotter fire than if you only had access to wet wood or other fuels such as charcoal briquettes or kerosene lamps. It’s important not to overload your fire too much, though, as this could cause it to smother itself and lose its heat source quickly. 

Also, if you overload it, there will probably be more smoke and it will be hard to get rid of campfire smell.

Amount of Oxygen Present in the Air 

The amount of oxygen available in the air also affects how hot your fire will get. Suppose there is not enough oxygen present in the air. In that case, your fire will be unable to reach its maximum temperature potential as it won’t be able to burn as efficiently as it could if more oxygen were present.

To ensure that your fire is burning as hot as possible, it’s essential to make sure that you have adequate airflow around your fire.

Campfire Structure 

The structure that you build your fire also plays a vital role in determining how hot it will get. The classic teepee structure is excellent for fires that need lots of air circulation, which helps to create more heat. A log cabin structure is also a good option for those looking for higher temperatures, as it helps to contain the heat and keep it near the center of the fire.

A rocket stove is another excellent option that directs air up through the burning wood. The structure helps create an even hotter fire than what you would get with a traditional teepee or log cabin-style fire pit.

Click here if you wish to learn how to build a rocket stove out of a single log all by yourself.

Tips for Building the Perfect Campfire

  • Gather plenty of tinder, kindling, and logs to use as fuel.
  • The best tinder materials are dry leaves or grass, paper, pieces of cardboard, or commercial fire starters.
  • For kindling, use small dry branches or twigs.
  • Create a structure with your firewood that will allow for good air circulation.
  • Start the fire with a match or lighter and begin adding small pieces of fuel at a time.
  • Avoid overloading the fire, as this can reduce its temperature.
  • Monitor the fire and adjust the structure if necessary to ensure that it is burning at its maximum potential.
  • Be careful which type of cookware you use since a strong fire can melt some metal cookware.
  • When you’re finished, make sure to completely extinguish the fire with water or sand before leaving your campsite.

“For wood gathering: If you can’t snap it, scrap it. And Higher is Dry-er. Make sure your wood is dry. If it isn’t dry enough to snap easily, it’s still more alive than is ideal for starting your fire. Higher refers to both elevation vs sea level and vs the ground. Once started you can dry out larger/moist pieces by leaving them along the outside of the fire pit before putting them in. Less moisture in the flames = less smoke.”Reddit

Campfire Safety Tips

Choose Your Location Carefully 

When you’re picking a spot for your campfire, it’s essential to consider the risks associated with different locations. The ideal spot should be away from overhanging branches, tents, or other flammable materials. A single spark can cause a whole lot of trouble.

It should also be at least 15 feet away from any dry grass or shrubs that could catch fire quickly. If possible, try to find an area that has some natural protection, like a large rock or dirt mound nearby; this will help contain the fire if it gets out of hand. 

Prepare the Area 

Before you light the fire itself, take some time to prepare the area around it for safety. Start by clearing away any debris, such as dried leaves or twigs, in a 4-foot radius around the intended site. This will help reduce the risk of accidental fires due to stray sparks flying into surrounding materials.

You should also dig out a shallow pit in which to place your campfire. This helps contain any flames and makes it easier to control the size and heat output of your fire. You can also place rocks around the perimeter of the campfire for added protection and containment.

Also, keep a bucket of water nearby so you can douse any potential flare-ups quickly and safely. This is especially important if you are playing campfire drinking games. Always ensure a “plan b” is by hand, in this case that’s a bucket of water.

Use Proper Fuel Types 

As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to use only certain types of fuel when starting your campfire. Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids! For best results, opt for dense wood such as oak or maple that will burn slowly and steadily; this is the best type of fuel for keeping your fire burning hot for longer periods of time.


A campfire provides us with much-needed warmth on those chilly nights. Therefore it’s important to understand just how hot they get so we can stay safe while enjoying them. Understanding the science behind combustion and being mindful of safety precautions allows you to enjoy many cozy evenings around your warm fireside companions without worry! Happy camping!

About Antonio

I’m Antonio, a passionate traveler, and outdoor lover who’s running this website. I started this site to share my passion for camping, traveling, and bikepacking.