Before you think about an
open fire make sure there is are no Total Fire Bans in
place. A Total Fire Ban (TFB) is declared when there are
extreme hot weather conditions and a TFB prohibits the
lighting of fires in the open air (or any other activities
that may cause a fire, such as soldering, welding etc).
Check your local Country Fire Authority website or your
state Department of Fire & Emergency Services website for
If collecting wood be
careful of snakes and spiders. Animals make their
homes in dead tree branches so ensure logs are empty of
wildlife. Collection of wood is restricted in some
National Parks and State Forests in Australia so buy
Place a ring of rocks
around the fire but leave enough area for fire to breathe
and to be able to insert a shovel to collect hot coals. Keep
a bucket of water nearby and keep children and pets well
away from the fire area. Before leaving the campsite, make
sure the fire is totally extinguished with water.
Camp Oven Fire
When starting a campfire every precaution should be taken
to prevent any spread of the fire as well as prevent any
danger to yourself or children. Always wear shoes
around the fire and take precautions to avoid burns.
Clear or rake about 5 meters of the surrounding area of
leaves and any flammable material and keep well away from
overhead branches, tents or RV's.
Get some paper and kindling together as well as some dry
split timber or wood to add to the flames as it catches on.
Certain types of timber burn better and create more hot
coals than others and it is the coals that are ideal for
camp oven cooking as too much flame can overheat the camp
oven. A long handled shovel is ideal to remove coals from
the campfire to place under and around the sides of the camp
oven as well as onto its lid.
use accelerants such as petrol. There
is a product called ‘Little Lucifer Firelighters’
in a packet of small white cubes that the manufacturer
claims to have a special odourless and smokeless formulation
and these are suitable for lighting briquettes, coal,
charcoal, coke and wood.
The camp oven can be used directly over the campfire itself,
or another method is to place it to one side of the campfire
on a bed of coals.
To do this:
You will need to start the fire about 45 minutes prior to
commencing cooking to generate enough coals for the camp
Dig a hole in the ground near the campfire a
little larger than the camp oven you intend to use.
This is to allow enough room under and around the
camp oven to place some hot coals from the fire
Ensure the camp oven has been "pre heated"
from the main campfire itself by placing it very
close to the hot coals and rotating every 5 minutes
to give all sides some direct heat.
Test the heat of the camp oven by placing a
small piece of paper inside. If the paper goes
yellow it is likely to be moderate (162 – 190 deg
C), light brown likely to be hot (190 – 205 deg C),
dark brown likely to be very hot (260 deg C) and if
it goes black very quickly and even burns then the
camp oven is way too hot.
If cooking a roast or the like it is a good
idea to place a small cake rack or trivet in the
bottom of the camp oven to prevent food from
sticking to heated base. It will also provide
better convection airflow for efficient cooking and
allows fat to run off giving you healthier food.
Place some coals in the bottom of the hole you have prepared
but not too many, you only want to warm the bottom of the
oven. Once this is done, place more coals around the sides
and on the lid. This method gives a very constant heat and
does not burn the bottom. To monitor the temperature and
judge when to replace the coals, place your open hand
approximately 2 inches from the top of the lid and coals.
It should almost be too hot to keep it there for more than a
few seconds. Once these coals have cooled they need to be
replaced immediately to maintain a constant heat in the camp
oven. The coals underneath the camp oven will also need to
be replaced, but not as often. (Perhaps every second change
of the ones on top). This all may take time at first to
judge how often the coals need replacing, but you will soon
become an expert with practice.
For a roast allow roughly about 1 hour of
cooking time for every 1 kg of weight
Cut vegetables such as potato and pumpkin and
place around the meat about 1 hour before the meat
is ready. Smaller frozen vegetables such as
peas and corn can be wrapped in alfoil "parcels"
with a small amount of butter and a drop of water.
These alfoil parcels can be placed on the top of the
roast. You may need to cut down the amount of
coals on the lid just slightly during this last hour
to avoid burning the alfoil parcels as they will be
quite close to the underside of the lid.
Once cooked, it is best to wrap the meat in
alfoil and let rest for a few minutes to allow the
juices to settle before slicing and serving.
In the absence of available hot coals for camp oven cooking
there is a product called ‘Heat Beads’. These are small
compressed briquettes that provide a high cooking
temperature. They also require to be lit about half and
hour prior to cooking. There is also a ‘Heat Beads
Easy-Lite Barbeque Fuel’ that the manufacturer claims no
firelighters are required "just the flick of a match".
Handy tools or items to have for camp oven cooking
Camp oven carry bag or box
A camp oven lid lifter or a long tent peg or
tent peg puller
Oven mitt or welding gloves
Long handled tongs
A small broom (not nylon) to whisk the ashes off
Cake tray or baking trivet to fit inside the
Alfoil and grease proof paper
Matches or gas BBQ lighter
Paper and firelighters
Wood or heat beads
A tarpaulin to keep wood dry
- A long handled shovel to access hot coals
A bucket of water to later put out the fire
are a number of camp oven cookery books available for
recipes for food like roasts, casseroles, dampers, beer
bread, lemonade scones and much more.
How can I
prevent campfire burns?
fires an accelerant should not be used.
should be supervised at all times around campfires and
things such as fuel, lighters and matches placed out of
their reach. Ensure children do not wear flammable
clothing. Have a First Aid Kit and a
print out available of steps to take in the event of a burn
food scraps, beer cans or bottles in the fire.
manipulating coals for camp oven cooking, it is
advisable to use a long handled shovel. This
will enable you to keep your body and hands far
enough away from the fire (and smoke).
use sand and dirt to extinguish the fire as they can
camouflage the hot coals and retain the heat.
Extinguish the fire using water. Each year a number
of people, particularly children, are treated for
severe campfire related burns. A number of those
burns resulted the morning after a campfire when
children have stepped on the hot coals.