How Hot Is a Campfire? Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Firewood

Any avid camper knows that the best thing after a long day playing outside is a solid campfire that brings people together for warmth, light, and socializing. However, it is important to understand the temperature of a campfire to ensure safety while enjoying its benefits. 

Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a newbie, understanding campfire temperature will help you make the most of your outdoor experience.

So how hot is a campfire? In this article, we’ll explore factors that affect the heat of the campfire, temperature ranges, and safety considerations to follow while enjoying a good ol’ campfire. 

Campfire Temperature Where You Cook 

A teapot, suspended on a log, is heated over a campfire

The temperature of a campfire varies based on several factors, including the size of the fire, the materials being burned, and the weather conditions. 

Generally speaking, a typical temperature inside a campfire can reach between 1500 to 1650 degrees Fahrenheit (815 to 898 degrees Celsius) and the temperature above the flame where you cook can reach up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit (315 degrees Celsius). 

However, if you have a large fire, the internal heat level can go up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit (1093 degrees Celsius).

If you don’t want your cooking surface to be that hot, you can move it away from the fire. As you move it further away from the fire, the cooking temperature will decrease accordingly. 

It is crucial to maintain a safe distance from the fire to avoid any injuries or damage to your camping cooking utensils.

Food is cooked on a grille over a campfire

Temperature Range of a Campfire

Surface Temperature

The surface temperature of a campfire refers to the average temperature of the flames and the surrounding area. 

The temperature of the flames can vary based on the type of wood used and the airflow, with a hotter fire producing hotter flames. 

The surface temperature of a typical campfire can range from 1,100 to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (593 to 982 degrees Celsius).

Internal Temperature

The internal temperature of a campfire refers to the temperature at the core of the fire. This is where the flames are the hottest, and red-hot coals are often visible.

The internal temperature of a campfire can range from 1500 to 1650 Fahrenheit (815 to 898 Celsius) on average.

However, in the case of larger fires, the internal heat level can reach up to 2000 degrees F (1093 C).

Heat Radius

The heating radius of a campfire is the area around the fire that feels the heat. This area can vary depending on the size of the fire and the weather conditions. 

On average, the heat radius of a roaring fire can extend up to six feet from the fire’s edge. It’s essential to keep this in mind when setting up a campsite to avoid any potential fire hazards.

Factors Affecting Campfire Heat: Understanding the Key Elements

When it comes to building a campfire, understanding the factors that can impact its heat is essential for a safe and enjoyable experience. 

Here are some of the main elements that can affect the temperature of your campfire.

A woman sits near a campfire and a white tent on a lake shore

Type of Wood

The type of wood you use is one of the most critical factors affecting the heat of your campfire.

Hardwoods such as oak, hickory, and maple burn hotter and longer than softwoods like pine or spruce.

Dry wood burns hotter than wet wood, so it’s essential to find at least some dry wood before starting your fire.


The airflow around your campfire can impact its heat as well. A well-ventilated fire will burn hotter than one that’s smothered by ash or debris.

Properly stacking your wood and ensuring that there’s enough space between logs can help improve the airflow around your campfire.

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions such as wind and humidity can also impact the oxygen flow and heat of your campfire.

Windy conditions can cause the fire to burn hotter, while humid weather can make it more challenging to ignite your wood.

Size of the Fire

The size of your campfire can also affect its heat. A larger fire will generate more heat than a smaller one, but it’s crucial to ensure that you’re not creating a fire that’s too large to control.

It’s best to start small and slowly add more wood to the fire to gradually increase it if you need, but watch out for the oxygen flow and make sure that you follow fire safety tips.

Tips for Building a Campfire 

Human hands build a campfire

Building a campfire is an essential skill for any camper or outdoor enthusiast! Here are some tips on how to build a good campfire.

  1. Gather your materials
    Before starting, make sure you have enough dry tinder, kindling, and firewood to keep your fire going. Look for dry twigs, leaves, and bark as tinder, small sticks as kindling, and larger logs as firewood. Check your fire starter and make sure it works.
  2. Choose a safe location
    Always use a fire pit if one is available. Otherwise, choose a spot that is away from any flammable materials like trees, bushes, or tents. Make sure there are no overhanging branches or vegetation that could catch fire.
  3. Start with a tinder
    Lay your tinder in the center of your fire pit, then light it with a lighter or matches. Tinder can include dry leaves, pine needles, paper, or other easily ignitable materials that will quickly catch fire.
  4. Add kindling
    Once the tinder is burning well, add small sticks and twigs as kindling to feed the fire. Arrange them in a teepee shape around the tinder, leaving space for air to circulate.
  5. Add firewood
    Once your kindling is burning well, add larger logs as firewood. Place them parallel to each other on top of the kindling in a teepee shape, leaving enough space between them for air to circulate.
  6. Maintain your fire
    As your fire burns, continue to add firewood to keep it going. Avoid adding too much at once, which can smother the fire. Keep an eye on the fire and never leave a campfire unattended.

Remember to follow fire safety precautions and avoid starting fires in areas where they are not permitted.

How Can You Tell How Hot a Fire Is – Color and Temperature 

Using an infrared thermometer may be the most accurate way to measure temperature, but let’s face it, not everyone has one of those lying around in their camping gear!

Some people might suggest using your hand to tell how hot the campfire is as a second option, but that’s definitely not a good idea. You don’t want to end up with a painful burn! 

Red fire: A red fire is the coolest, with a maximum temperature of 900-1,800°F. (500-1000°C). Red flames typically come from the glowing embers and coals of a fire. It’s important to note that the darker the flame, the colder it will be.

So, what do you do if you want to know how hot your campfire is without breaking the bank? Here’s a little trick that’s practically foolproof – just take a look at the color of the flames! 

Campfire coals are glowing in the dark

Orange fire: An orange fire is hotter than a red fire, with internal temperatures of 1,800-2,100°F (1000 to 1200°C). An average campfire can certainly reach this temperature, but it will depend on the fuel you use and how you stack the wood.

Orange fire

Yellow fire: A yellow fire is even hotter, with a temperature range of 2,100-2,500°F (1200 to 1400°C). Remember, getting your campfire to this temperature will be challenging.

Yellow fire

White fire: The occurrence of white flames from a fire is rather uncommon. But it’s doable if you’re making a large bonfire. The flames of white fire have an average temperature between 2500 and 2900°F (1400 to 1600°C).

White fire

Blue fire: A blue fire is the hottest, with a temperature range of 2,600°F and 3,000°F (1,427°C-1,649°C). The flames turn blue when the temperature is extremely high and the gas molecules start to glow. 

Blue fire

The sight of a blue campfire is a rare occurrence. It’s not something you can achieve through regular means. A conventional campfire simply can’t generate enough heat to produce the blue hue.

Can a Campfire Melt My Pot?

Yes, your campfire can melt metal cookware and utensils. But not all metals are created equal when it comes to handling heat. 

So, it’s crucial to know which metals can withstand the heat of a campfire without melting. And, the key to this lies in understanding the average melting points of common metals used in camping cookware. 

Two metal pots are heated over an open campfire

This will help you avoid any damage or hazards and ensure that your camping trip is both fun and safe. 

Here are the average melting points of four common metals used in camping cookware:

  • Aluminum: 1,220°F (660°C)
  • Aluminum alloys: 865°F to 1,240°F (463°C to 671°C)
  • Cast iron: 2,060°F (1,130°C)
  • Stainless steel: 2,750°F (1,510°C)

As you can see, aluminum has the lowest melting point among these four metals, making it more vulnerable to damage from high temperatures.

Stainless steel has the highest melting point, making it the most durable and heat-resistant material for camping cookware. A cast iron frying pan is one of the most popular ways of enjoying campfire cooking.

Precautions with Campfire Heat

A group of people sits around a campfire in a forest at night

When enjoying the great outdoors, it’s important to take precautions with campfire heat to ensure everyone’s safety and protect the environment. Here are a few things to take into consideration:

Fire safety:

  • Before lighting a fire, check for any local fire restrictions.
  • Choose an appropriate spot for the fire, away from flammable materials like bushes and low-hanging branches.
  • Remove any waste or plants from the area surrounding the campfire pit.
  • Keep a source of water nearby, such as a bucket or hose, to extinguish the fire if necessary.
  • Keep the fire under control at all times, and before leaving, make sure it is completely out.


  • Keep a safe distance from the fire and make sure children and pets are supervised.
  • Use long tools, such as tongs or a stick, to tend to the fire and avoid getting too close.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as gloves and closed-toe shoes, when handling the fire or hot cookware.

Environmental impact:

  • Only use dead wood that can be easily broken or gathered from the ground. Never chop down living trees or branches.
  • Use established fire pits if available to minimize damage to the environment.
  • Avoid building fires in areas with sensitive ecosystems, such as dry grasslands or wetlands.
  • Ensure the fire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold before leaving to prevent wildfires and minimize the impact on the environment.

By taking these precautions, you can enjoy the warmth and beauty of a campfire while staying safe and protecting the environment.

Types of Campfires

Several different types of campfires can be built, depending on the purpose and location of the fire. Here are a few examples:

  • Cooking fire: This type of fire is built specifically for cooking food. It is usually a small fire, with a low flame, that is made with dry wood or charcoal. The fire is often built in a pit or on a grate, and the cookware is placed directly over the flames.
  • Warming fire: A warming fire is built to provide heat, rather than to cook food. It is typically larger than a cooking fire and may be built using larger pieces of wood or a few logs. The fire may be built in a fire ring or pit, and people will often sit around it to warm themselves.
  • Signal fire: A signal fire is built to attract attention, often for rescue or other emergency purposes. It is usually built on a high point and may include materials that produce colored smoke or flames to make it more visible.
  • Comforting fire: A comforting fire is built for the primary purpose of creating a cozy, inviting atmosphere. It is usually smaller than a warming fire and may be built using fragrant woods or other materials that produce pleasant aromas when burned.
Marshmallows are roasted on a fire

So, that’s everything you need to know about how hot a campfire can get. Remember, with great heat comes great responsibility!

It’s crucial to take precautions and be aware of potential hazards when building and maintaining a campfire.

We hope this article has provided you with valuable information, and if you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments. Stay safe and happy camping!

Alex Buchnev

Alex Buchnev

Alex loves kayaking, fishing, and all things outdoors. When he's not out there in the wild, he's probably typing away at his laptop or trying to be the world's best father for his two lovely daughters.

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