Monday, June 2, 2014

How to Build a Dakota Fire Hole

Earlier this month my general info-gathering led me to salivate over YouTube plans for building a rocket stove out of six cinder blocks but have as yet been unable to locate the rare and exotic H-Fence block. Then I stumbled upon something called The Dakota Fire Hole (or pit). No blocks, just two holes in the yard. Hey! I've got a yard! I even have en eight foot by eight foot spot in the yard where the previous owner burned his garbage! So using the tools pictured to the right, I started in. Yep, just a sturdy garden spade and some crow-bar-type tool that mysteriously come to live at my house. I'm not even sure what it's called or what what project might have called for it's existence.

It took me about twenty minutes and though I was sweating at the end it was mostly because I have no upper body strength. My pit ended up being about one foot deep and nine inches across. Had I had a laptop out there next to me it would have surely been covered with dirt. But before it burst into flames I would have read that making the fire bit broader at the base is beneficial, like one foot across. Alas, mine was just a straight pit.

The internets would also have been helpful in reminding me that the air shaft could have been dug diagonally. The most difficult part (and the part that got me the dirtiest) was digging the hole that connects the two pits. Also I would have placed this air shaft upwind of the fire hole instead of due north.

Actually it's probably a good thing I reduced the efficiency with the air hole location because look at this baby go! During the move I somehow had the mental capacity to hold onto a grill from an old, er, grill?

One of the benefits of the Dakota Fire Pithole is that it is amazingly efficient. I used only about this much wood to cook three 1/3# burgers, four hot dogs and two bratwurst. In about ten minutes.

Ten minutes? Oh yeah! That's the other benefit... this thing is a rocketstove in the ground! Yessir, this wee little pit cooked the burgers in about six minutes and the weiners in less than five. According to my wife, the burgers tasted like the ones her dad makes although I'm pretty sure he doesn't have a Dakota Fire Pit on his property. Maybe I'll dig him one for Christmas. The high heat created a crunchy exterior but not one that was charred and burnt like happens on my gas grill when one of the kids develops a poopy diaper that needs urgent attention and then the dripping grease flares up while I'm gone and coats the meat with char and some weird oily grease-gas. Nope, this is pure and simple ultra-high-temp crisp! And just like candy taken from strangers, it was delicious!

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