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PostPosted: February 15th, 2014, 9:33 pm 
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It's a quiet month for hockey, so I had some time to edit this video on building a decent fireplace for cooking.



Until a friend of mine commented on it a couple of years ago, I hadn't really thought about how much of a difference it makes to cooking if you take the time to set the fireplace up nicely.

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PostPosted: February 17th, 2014, 11:41 am 
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Good Job!

Firepits seem to grow in size as many folk are too lazy to clear the ash away. They just add more rocks to make the pit bigger! Last year I found a fire pit that had filled up completely so previous campers had taken all the rocks from one side of the fire place and built a mirror image around the back of the existing fireplace, leaving all the ash still in the old location.

Big fireplaces are awkward to cook over, not least because most grills are to small to span the gap.

Maybe the problem is that relatively few people are actually cooking on fires. They'll happily cook on their hi-tech stove then spend the rest of the evening building a big fire to sit around.

I can happily cook a meal for up to four on one of my fireboxes so I know I don't generally need anything bigger when it comes to stone fire place.

Chris

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PostPosted: February 17th, 2014, 12:11 pm 
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Just my take on these matters.
Don't build an unsightly, blackened pile of rocks for either cooking or watching.
For cooking, use a firebox or a stove.
For watching, look at the sunset; if there's no sunset, go to bed.

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PostPosted: February 17th, 2014, 3:35 pm 
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Thanks for the video. A good fireplace is a wonderful thing.

Sad thing is the permanent ones quickly turn to shit and start to multiply. Now someone else with time, energy, and tools has clean up or rebuild the fire area.
Great for someone who wants to look at "trace" all over and around for years to come.
Not so great for someone who wants to leave the area pristine/natural.

Of course there are exceptions… high traffic areas where everybody goes and historical travel routes are two that come to mind.

Another vote for a firebox.
Once you try one, you'll never look back.


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PostPosted: February 17th, 2014, 3:48 pm 
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Definitely.

My titanium firebox accompanies me on all trips

My rule is to never build something if there is nothing there in the first place but unfortunately these last couple of years I have been leading Paddle Manitoba Weekend trips so we have been in the "near wilderness" so most areas are already heavily used with existing fire places. Even when further off the beaten track first nations hunters and fly-in fishermen will leave their mark.

Pristine/ natural? Almost all campsites are cut from the bush by someone at some point- First Nations/trappers/ other paddlers.

I would love to have the luxury of those big Northern rivers with gravel bar camping that wash everything clean each spring.

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PostPosted: February 17th, 2014, 5:19 pm 
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Canoeheadted wrote:
Thanks for the video. A good fireplace is a wonderful thing.
Another vote for a firebox.
Once you try one, you'll never look back.

Another vote here---you'll need just a small fraction of the wood that you need for a fireplace. And they are easy and cheap to make.

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PostPosted: February 17th, 2014, 7:03 pm 
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Discussion is always a good thing and this has been an interesting response. I have looked at fireboxes and twig stoves before. Both options interest me, but if you've read my trip reports you probably have a good idea of just how much gear we haul around with us already and I really think I need to focus more on lightening up rather than adding to the toys.

That said, I think if you watch the video you will see that I'm really talking about a lot of the same benefits that you get with a firebox. First off I mention that we're in Algonquin so there is already an established firepit and I even show the firepit as it is when we arrive at the site. Then I talk about how taking the time to build it into a proper cooking fireplace makes it more effective. That includes key points that I emphasize such as making a smaller firebox and keeping the grill lower down so that the pots are closer to the flame. I even mentioned that the legs of the grill are dug down a couple of inches to keep it low.

I know that some parks such as Nahanni National Park require the use of a firebox and if I ever manage to trip there then I'll be happy to use one. Similarly, if I was Crown Land camping where there aren't established sites then I would think about using one too. That would be consistent with low trace practices and safe practices.

So coming back to campfire cooking in established parks like Algonquin or Killarney or the French River, is there really much difference between using a firebox and just rebuilding the existing firepit?

Oh, and keep in mind that our one guaranteed trip each year has been our spring fishing trip in late April or early May. Believe me, beautiful as the sunset is, having the warmth of the campfire is a pretty important part of the experience.

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PostPosted: February 17th, 2014, 8:50 pm 
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There are differences.

A portable firebox can be placed where convenient. Under a tarp out of the rain, out of the wind, down on the beach, even on table.
Several times while out during very cold/wet conditions, we've pulled off the water and quickly set up the firebox for a recharge. Quick, direct heat with a minimal amount of wood consumed.
How's this… when shower time comes, set up your shower with a nice toasty firebox kicking' out the heat beside you. Trust me. It's awesome.

Again, not dissin the permanent fireplace, just discussing differences.


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PostPosted: February 17th, 2014, 8:51 pm 
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Splake wrote:
Both options interest me, but if you've read my trip reports you probably have a good idea of just how much gear we haul around with us already and I really think I need to focus more on lightening up rather than adding to the toys.


I've watched a bunch of your videos and concur - you do carry a lot of stuff. LOL!

Agreed on the merits of a fire on May fishing trips. I've rebuilt my fair share of fire pits for this reason. Last year with 115mm of rain in 3 days, it was all we could do to sort of 'smoke dry' some of our clothing! The smell still lingers in a bunch of my gear.


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PostPosted: February 19th, 2014, 8:22 am 
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Nicely done Splake! That's how I make mine too, but for solo I downsize it with a little Purcell Trench Grill.

The tall flat rock like you have at the back is important. It is the "chimney" rock. It will send the draw and smoke up. The one-sided opening low in the front is key to focusing the draw, and you can see in your video how the draw was working well, and where the tall flames were coming up the back, and where the smoke was going - the chimney rock is a big part of this.

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PostPosted: February 19th, 2014, 10:06 am 
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Thanks Hoop!

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PostPosted: February 19th, 2014, 10:21 am 
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I like your video Splake. When in APP, rebuilding the firepit is usually the second thing I do; right after tidying up the place of litter. Till now, I was thinking I was obsessive about fireplaces. They're so often built for bonfires rather than cooking. On litter collection walks, I've even seen divots left by campers scrounging for more rocks to add to the already massive fire ring. I too like to build shelves for pots and pans, and maybe the odd seat around the fireplace. The excessive extras I scatter. I know they'll be found by future bonfire builders. That's okay. I'm not the only "architect" out there. I've only just bought a firebox, and can't wait to downsize my needs. It didn't come with a base though, so I'll experiment with a tin pie plate.


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PostPosted: February 19th, 2014, 5:18 pm 
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Good job on the fireplace, Splake. I understand the benefits of a campfire for heat when it's cool and, sometimes, for smoke to repel the bugs. I quite enjoy sitting around a campfire. For cooking, though, a little wood stove/firebox consumes a small fraction of the wood req'd for a campfire----I'd say 10% or less. As far as weight and bulk for packing, my homemade stove, for e.g., is slightly more than 1 # and packs away as flat(ish) sheet metal in our pack. Those on the market are also fairly light and compact.

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PostPosted: February 19th, 2014, 5:25 pm 
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Odyssey wrote:
It didn't come with a base though, so I'll experiment with a tin pie plate.


Don't bother with an al. pie plate. It will melt when exposed to the base of the fire. To protect the ground from heat you'll need an air gap between the fire and the ground. A pie plate will catch the ashes if you create an air gap to protect it from melting.

In the areas where I camp in Ont I don't see this as much of an issue. I can almost always set my stove up in (1)the burnt over and scuffed area of an existing firepit, (2)on a bare chunk of the Cdn Shield, or (3) on a sandy beach.

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PostPosted: February 19th, 2014, 6:50 pm 
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At the risk of going slightly off topic, why buy a firebox without a base? One of the benefits of a good firebox is to be able to move it around your site. Admittedly it's not a good idea when 3 foot high flames are coming out the top, but picking it up with a pair of leather gloves to relocate from the beach to under a tarp makes for a good camping experience.

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