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Survival Skills

How to build a Dakota Fire Hole (Step-by-Step with Pictures)



If you’re out on your own, you’ll need to keep warm in the wilderness and be able to cook and boil water for drinking. Fires need to be closely monitored and kept under control, but sometimes that control is difficult to maintain.

a functioning Dakota fire pit

The wind either blows your fire out or puts it into the bush and then you have a bigger problem.

This is something that the Native American tribes of the Dakotas understood very well, and they came up with an ingenious solution, the fire hole.

So, what is a Dakota fire hole, how does it work, and how do you make one?

The History of the Dakota Fire Pit

The Dakota fire hole is an ancient technique. Back in the day, the Native American tribes were very nomadic. They were constantly on the move – following the bison herds that roamed the plains

After all, they had to eat and you can’t eat if you don’t follow the food, right? Well, unfortunately, the winds on the plains could be quite strong – as I said before, they were quite a nuisance – this made starting a fire risky business.

If the wind picked up at the wrong moment, there could be a fire with near-infinite fuel raging across the plains.

There was also the added risk of being seen by enemy raiders, and they had to cook and eat. To get around these issues, they came up with this crazy idea – to build the fire underground.

By doing this, they kept the fire contained and avoided the troublesome elements and risk of a brush fire.

This method also allowed the fire to be easily concealed when necessary. Interestingly, however, keeping the fire concealed was not the original purpose of the Dakota fire pit.

It was primarily used while the Dakota tribes were out hunting bison because it allowed for a very hot fire that used very little fuel.

The Dakota fire pit was a simple project that worked really, really well and it’s still used by outdoorsmen today for cooking and boiling water.

close-up of the tunnel connecting the two fire pit holes

How Does it Work?

So, now that we know a little bit about the backstory of the Dakota fire pit, let’s look at how it works.

The fire pit actually consists of two pits that have been connected with a tunnel. The fire is set in one pit and the other stays empty. The empty pit is the oxygen supply, air goes into the pit and through the tunnel to the fire.

The hot air from the fire rises and creates suction which draws cooler, fresh air through the tunnel creating a looping effect.

This keeps the fire oxygenated allowing it to burn at a higher temperature for longer even while covered by a cooking pot. The fire itself loses very little heat as the hole protects it on all sides.

The Advantages of the Dakota Fire Pit

  • The biggest advantage of the Dakota fire pit is that it’s simple. With two holes linked by a tunnel, it’s kind of difficult to mess that up.
  • The airflow channels the heat straight to the cooking area which means you can use less fuel.
  • Since it’s underground, the fire doesn’t produce as much smoke as a regular campfire. This is great for if you’re stealth camping as it helps with concealment. It’s also much easier to manage than your regular campfire.
  • The size of the first hole confines the fire to a small space, this focuses the heat from the flame in one spot.

The Disadvantages of the Dakota Fire Pit

  • Dakota fire pits have very particular geological needs. If the soil is too sandy, the hole won’t work well. Likewise, if there are lots of tree roots or rocks, you may not be able to dig at all.
  • They’re also very time-consuming to build despite their simple design.
  • This design is great for cooking as the heat is focused on the opening of the fire pit, but not good for keeping warm.
  • Bad weather can also pose a serious problem. Rain, for example, will fill both the fire and oxygen pits with water rendering the fire pit useless until the rain’s gone and the water’s dried up.

Why Build a Fire in the Ground?

Well, for starters you’re out of the wind which means that you won’t have to worry about the fire being extinguished by a strong gust.

You also won’t have to worry about your embers being blown into the surrounding brush by high winds, re-igniting, and raging out of control.

Sometimes you just want to get away and not be noticed on a camping trip, having your fire underground makes it barely visible allowing you to stay unnoticed.

Another reason to build a fire in the ground is security in a disaster/survival situation.

Regular campfires are often very visible – depending on weather conditions and distance – and you often end up leaving a pile of ash behind when the fire’s out.

If you’re in a situation where that’s a bad thing (i.e. you don’t want certain people to find you), then building your fire underground makes a lot of sense.

Why? Because when you’re done you can just bury it – who’s going to know you were there if there’s no sign of a fire? It’s kind of hard to track someone if there’s little to no trace of them, isn’t it?

Are Smokeless Fire Pits Healthier?

Yes, since a smokeless pit uses less fuel, it’s not producing the same amount of smoke that a regular fire would.

This means you’re not inhaling as much, if any smoke, greatly reducing if not eliminating the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and lung damage via smoke inhalation.

The smoke that is produced is typically dispersed by the fire itself before it reaches us so we avoid inhaling and smelling like smoke.

Where to Build your Dakota Fire Pit

A Dakota fire hole/pit can be made on any flat surface that’s been cleared of vegetation and debris (i.e. rocks).

If you’d like to further disperse the smoke, you can build the hole under a tree – just make sure it’s tall enough that it won’t catch fire.

You should avoid digging in areas where:

  • The ground is very rocky – it’ll be harder to dig your hole with rocks in the way.
  • The soil is loose and/or sandy. The soil must be able to keep its shape while you dig or you’re just going to be wasting your time constantly re-digging a collapsed hole.
  • There are tree roots that you’ll have to cut through.
  • The hole will probably fill with water easily.

Building Your Own Dakota Fire Pit in 3 Easy Steps

You don’t need much in order to build a Dakota fire pit…

  • A flat surface that’s been cleared of vegetation and debris
  • A spade/shovel to do the digging
  • Rocks to hold your pot

You don’t really need much more than a shovel in order to make a Dakota fire pit because you’re basically just digging. You can also use it to clear the vegetation from the area where you want the pit to be.

Vegetation and debris can make digging the hole more than a little bit difficult – vegetation can also create a fire hazard. You can also grab a few rocks to line the fire side of the hole.

If you’re in a tight spot and you don’t have a shovel, you can use a strong stick to dig your Dakota fire pit.

Step 1: Check the Location

The first thing you want to do is check your location. Is the soil good for the pit (it’s not sandy or too rocky)? Keep an eye out for any potential hazards (i.e. flooding and fire) and changes in the weather conditions – i.e. wind direction.

Step 2: Mark Your Holes

This is the other important step because your holes need to be positioned in the right place if you want the pit to work.

The oxygen chamber should be around 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter and aimed toward the prevailing winds.

The fire pit/chamber should be about 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter and positioned downwind of the oxygen chamber with a distance of about 5-6 inches (8-10 cm) or so between the two holes (for the tunnel between them).

Step 3: Dig the First Hole

Once you’ve got your holes and tunnel marked, it’s time to start digging. Start by removing any vegetation (grass) from the area. When that’s been done, you dig the two holes.

The first hole that you’ll dig is the oxygen chamber, dig a hole with a slight downward slope (to allow air to enter the hole) with a diameter of about 15cm.

You want a reliable draft that will send air directly to the base of the fire and keep it oxygenated.

two holes of Dakota fire pit seen from above for size comparison
Notice how the diameter of the oxygen chamber is visibly smaller from the diameter of the fire chamber.

Step 4: Dig the Second Hole

When you’ve finished digging the oxygen chamber, you move on to the second hole. This one should be downwind of the oxygen chamber and around 25cm in diameter. It needs to be large enough to hold a small fire comfortably.

Step 5: Dig the Connection Tunnel

two holes in the ground with connection tunnel

When the holes are dug, you dig the tunnel which should be roughly 20 cm long between the two holes and 15cm in diameter – you can change this if needed.

Lighting and Extinguishing Your Fire

When it comes to lighting your fire, you set it up the same way you would set up a regular campfire – the only difference is that you’re setting it up in a hole.

lighting a dakota fire pit

You use a bit of tinder and because you only have so much space to work with, small twigs as fuel. You can line the hole with rocks to hold your cooking pot/pan securely over the flame.

Adding fuel to the hole, simply lift the pot and drop new sticks into the fireside of the pit.

When you’re done with your fire, and you want to put it out, there are a couple of ways to do it…

One way is to throw dirt/sand into the hole over the fire, this starves the fire of oxygen which, of course, means it can’t burn.

Alternatively, you can let the fire burn through the fuel – just don’t leave the fire completely unattended (that’s just irresponsible).


Who invented the Dakota Fire Hole?

The basic concept of the fire hole can be found all over the world, but its original founding/invention is attributed to the Native American tribes of the Dakotas.

What’s the Point of a Dakota Fire Hole?

The purpose of the Dakota Fire Hole is to have a tightly controlled heat source for camping and cooking that isn’t at risk of having the wind blow out the match/sparks.

Are Dakota Fire Holes smokeless?

Almost. Dakota fire holes still produce smoke but they are incredibly hot-burning and don’t need much in the way of fuel to get going. The reduced fuel requirement means that you don’t end up with as much smoke as you’d get with a regular fire. Placing the hole under a tall tree allows you to disperse the smoke through the foliage.

How do Dakota Fire Holes work?

Your oxygen chamber/pit is slightly sloped to allow the air to enter. Air flows through the tunnel to the fire pit/chamber and keeps things burning.

How deep do Dakota Fire Holes need to be?

The depth of the hole depends on how far underground you want your fire to be. On average, however, a good depth is around 30cm.

dakota fire hole pinterest

Source link: by Greg Seebregts at

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Be Prepared: Surviving a Total Loss of Fresh Water Supply




If there’s one thing every prepper knows, it’s that disaster can strike at any moment. This can lead to significant disruptions in your daily life, such as a water shortage. Whether it’s a short-term issue like a frozen pipe or a long-term crisis like a total loss of fresh water supply, being prepared is crucial. Understanding the causes and knowing how to respond can make all the difference.

Types of No-Water Emergencies

Several occurrences can lead to water contamination or a complete lack of running water. Here are some common scenarios:

  • Broken Pipe: Broken pipes can occur due to aging infrastructure, extreme weather conditions, or accidental damage. When a pipe bursts, it can result in the loss of access to clean, running water and potentially cause significant water damage to your property.
  • Contaminated Water: Chemical spills, sewage backups, and other forms of pollution can render water supplies unsafe. Even if the water appears clear, it might be contaminated and unfit for drinking, cooking, or hygiene.
  • Frozen Water: In regions with harsh winters, frozen pipes are a common issue. When temperatures drop below freezing, water inside the pipes can freeze, causing the pipes to burst. This can lead to significant water damage and loss of running water.

How to Survive Without Clean or Running Water

While water outages are typically short-term in developed countries, extended periods without access to clean water can occur. Here are some essential tips to ensure your family’s survival during such times:

Stock Up on Bottled or Jugged Water: Always expect the unexpected. The general recommendation is to have at least 1 gallon of water per person per day. For a family of four, this means at least 28 gallons per week for drinking, cooking, and hygiene.

Have an Alternate Water Source: In case of long-term water outages, having an alternative water source can be lifesaving. Options include:

  • Well: If feasible, drilling a well can provide a reliable source of groundwater. However, well construction and maintenance are complex and may require professional assistance.
  • Rainwater Collection: Setting up a rainwater harvesting system can help you capture and store precipitation for later use. Ensure that your collection surfaces are clean and have a method to filter and purify the water before use.
  • Local Freshwater Source: Natural water sources like streams, rivers, lakes, or ponds can be used, but must be treated and purified to remove pathogens and impurities.
  • Filled Bathtub/Sinks: During imminent water crises, fill bathtubs and sinks to store additional water.
  • Proper Water Storage and Conservation: Invest in high-quality water storage containers and keep them in a cool, dark place. Use food-grade barrels, tanks, or jerry cans. Also, practice water conservation by using water efficiently and recycling greywater where possible.

Water Purification Methods

Having multiple water purification methods is essential for ensuring access to safe drinking water. Here are some methods to consider:

  • Drops/Tablets: Chlorine, bleach, or iodine tablets can be added to water to kill microorganisms. Follow the instructions carefully for effectiveness and safety.
  • Boiling Method: Boiling water for at least one minute (three minutes at higher altitudes) is one of the simplest ways to purify water.
  • Multimedia Filters: Filters using activated carbon, charcoal, or reverse osmosis technology can remove contaminants, including heavy metals and microorganisms.
  • LifeStraw: This modern product can filter up to 4,000 liters of water, making it a practical tool for emergency water purification.
  • Liquid Chlorine/Bleach: Use suitable chlorine or bleach products for water purification. Ensure that you follow guidelines to avoid health risks.
  • Desalinator: For those living near the ocean, a desalinator can convert seawater into potable water through reverse osmosis.

Practical Tips for Water Use

Knowing how to use each water source efficiently is vital. Here are some tips:

  • Drinking: Allocate a strict daily water intake to ensure hydration. Mark water levels on bottles or jugs to control usage.
  • Cleaning: Use disinfecting wipes and sanitizing sprays to maintain cleanliness when water is scarce.
  • Bathing: Utilize sponge baths, outdoor showers, or waterless cleaning products to maintain personal hygiene.
  • Non-Potable Uses: Assess the quality of available non-potable water sources and use them for tasks like toilet flushing and clothes washing.
  • Emergency Cases: Keep clean water available for treating injuries, using products like disinfectant wipes, alcohol, and clean towels.
  • Extreme Use Cases: Hidden/Forgotten Water Sources
  • Water Heater: In an emergency, your water heater can be a valuable source of water. Properly drain the heater to access the water inside.
  • Pool Water: With proper treatment and purification, pool water can be used for various needs during a crisis.
  • Oxygenate Flat Tasting Water: Improve the taste of stored water by using agitation, aeration, mechanical devices, or adding small amounts of hydrogen peroxide.

The loss of fresh water, whether short-term or long-term, can pose significant challenges. By stocking up on water, having alternative sources, and knowing how to purify and use water efficiently, you can ensure your family’s survival during a water crisis. Start preparing today—before it’s too late.

How prepared are you for a water emergency? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below and help others learn how to stay safe and hydrated in times of crisis.


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Now More Than Ever: You Need a Fallout Shelter




In today’s increasingly uncertain world, the threat of nuclear war looms larger than it has in decades. Escalating tensions globally, particularly in regions like Israel and Ukraine, have heightened concerns about the potential for catastrophic conflict. As families seek to prepare for worst-case scenarios, building a fallout shelter in your basement can provide a crucial layer of protection. This guide will walk you through the steps to create a safe and effective fallout shelter in your home, ensuring that you and your loved ones are prepared for any eventuality.

Why Build a Fallout Shelter?

The primary purpose of a fallout shelter is to protect you and your family from the immediate dangers of a nuclear explosion and the subsequent radioactive fallout. A well-constructed shelter can significantly reduce your exposure to radiation, provide a safe space for survival, and give you peace of mind during these tumultuous times.

Assessing Your Basement

Before you start building your fallout shelter, you need to evaluate your basement to determine its suitability for conversion. Here are the key factors to consider:

Structural Integrity

Ensure your basement is structurally sound and free of leaks. Cracks in the foundation or walls can compromise the shelter’s integrity and allow radiation to penetrate.

Space Availability

Choose a location within your basement that offers enough space for your family and essential supplies. A minimum of 10 square feet per person is recommended for comfort and survival needs.


Ensure that the chosen area is easily accessible and can be quickly reached in an emergency. The entrance should also be securable to protect against external threats.

Designing Your Shelter

Radiation Shielding

The key to effective fallout protection is adequate shielding. Materials such as concrete, bricks, and earth are excellent for blocking radiation. Aim for walls that are at least 12 inches thick with concrete or 24 inches thick with packed earth.


Proper ventilation is crucial to prevent suffocation and ensure a fresh air supply. Install an air filtration system capable of removing radioactive particles. Consider manual ventilation options in case of power outages.

Water and Food Supply

Stock your shelter with a sufficient supply of water and non-perishable food. Aim for a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day and a two-week supply of food. Include a water filtration system for long-term sustainability.


Prepare for sanitation needs by including portable toilets, waste bags, and sanitation chemicals. Proper waste management is crucial to prevent disease and maintain hygiene.

Emergency Supplies

Equip your shelter with essential emergency supplies, including:

  • First aid kits
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Radios (preferably hand-cranked or battery-powered)
  • Blankets and warm clothing
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Tools for emergency repairs
  • Building the Shelter

Wall Construction

Begin by constructing the walls using your chosen materials. Concrete blocks are highly effective and can be reinforced with rebar for added strength. Ensure the walls are thick enough to provide adequate radiation shielding.

Ceiling and Floor

The ceiling should be as heavily shielded as the walls. If your basement ceiling isn’t suitable, add a layer of concrete or earth above it. The floor should be solid and free from cracks; consider adding a layer of protective material if necessary.

Entrance Protection

Install a sturdy, sealed door that can withstand blasts and radiation. Metal doors with rubber gaskets are effective. Ensure the door can be securely locked from the inside.

Ventilation System

Install your ventilation system, ensuring it can filter out radioactive particles. Include manual ventilation options, such as hand-cranked fans, in case of power failure.

Interior Setup

Arrange the interior for maximum comfort and efficiency. Place cots or sleeping mats along the walls, leaving the central area free for movement. Store supplies in an organized manner to make them easily accessible.

Testing and Maintenance

Regular Inspections

Regularly inspect your shelter for any signs of damage or wear. Check the integrity of the walls, ceiling, and floor, and ensure the ventilation system is functioning correctly.

Supply Rotation

Periodically rotate your food and water supplies to ensure they remain fresh and usable. Replace expired items promptly.

Emergency Drills

Conduct regular emergency drills with your family to ensure everyone knows how to quickly and safely access the shelter.

Building a fallout shelter in your basement is a proactive step towards ensuring your family’s safety in the face of nuclear threats. By carefully assessing your space, designing for maximum protection, and maintaining your shelter, you can create a secure environment to weather any storm. In these uncertain times, being prepared is not just a precaution; it’s a necessity.

Do you have any tips on building a fallout shelter in your basement? Leave them in the comments below. 

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Survival Skills

3 Practical Ways To Tie a Shemagh



One of the most iconic pieces of headwear in the world, and one that is instantly recognizable, is the shemagh. Basically a giant bandana, this staple of Middle Eastern tradition has become a fashionable accessory elsewhere in the world and an indispensable part of a warfighter’s kit in arid, desert climates.

tying a shemag featured

They work wonderfully for keeping the sun off your head, face, and neck and sand out of your mouth, nose, and eyes. But compared to a bandana, it’s a lot more involved in tying on a shemagh, though you can learn easily enough thanks to our step-by-step guide.

Below you’ll find three proven ways for tying a shemagh, each suitable for different purposes and preferences. Let’s get right into it!

Military Style

The first method is the so-called military style, greatly preferred by military forces, as you might imagine, because it’s quicker and easier to don hastily when protection is needed.

This is a great one to start with since it is so similar to tying a bandana on, something you might already be used to…

military-style tied shemagh
wearing a shemag tied military-style

Step 1: Fold the shemagh in half. Holding the shemagh lengthwise, bring one corner to another to make a triangle with the corner hanging down in front of you. Being rectangular, it won’t be perfectly symmetrical, and that’s okay.

shemagh folded in half

Step 2: Place over the head. Pick out a spot that is about 3/4 of the way down the folded edge. Place this point in the middle of your forehead with the corners behind you.

If you are right-handed, the short end should be on the left side of your head. Keep hold of the folded edge the entire time. See picture for reference:

shemagh over head

Step 3: Bring the short end under the chin. Grab the corner at the short end along the folded edge. Wrap snugly directly under your chin, and bring it up along the right side of your face, pointing upward.

bringing shorter end under chin

Step 4: Wrap the long end around the front of the face. Keeping everything taut, take hold of the short end with your right hand now. Hold it in place, then use your left hand to bring the long end around in front of your face, covering your nose.

wrapping long end over face

Step 5: Continue wrapping the long end. Go all the way around behind your head until the corner overlaps the short end you are still holding on to.

Step 6: Tie. Make sure everything is snug enough, then tie both corners together with a pair of overhand knots.

tying shemagh

Step 7: Adjust. Make sure the shemagh is secure over your nose, under your chin, and across the top of your head and forehead. Undo the knot and retie it if necessary to make adjustments.

Step 8: Finished! You’re ready to face the wild.

With just a little bit of practice, the military-style shemagh wrap goes on very quickly. It’s my favorite method for getting protection in a hurry.

Bedouin Style

The Bedouin style wrap is slightly more involved, but more compact and very quick to take off when required. It also allows you to uncover your mouth if you want without untying the entire shemagh…

bedouin-style wrap bandana
wearing a shemag tied bedouin-style

Step 1: Fold the shemagh in half. Holding the fabric lengthwise, bring two opposite corners together. Again, it won’t be perfectly symmetrical, and that’s okay.

folding shemagh in half bedouin

Step 2: Lay the shemagh on the head. Place the middle of the fold on your forehead with the corner pointing backwards behind you.

placing shemagh over head

Step 3: Fold the bottom edge up, criscross ends. Fold about two or two and a half inches of material upward, then cross the two loose corners around the back of your head (without tying them):

crossing the two ends

Step 4: Wrap the first side. Gather one side of the material and wrap it around your head, staying above your eyes.

grabbing first end

wrapping first end around forehead

Step 5: Tuck first side. After completing one complete wrap, tuck the end into the fold you made earlier to secure it.

tucking first end behind head

Step 6: Wrap the second side. Now gather the remaining material from the other side:

bringing second end to front

…and bring it around covering your nose and mouth:

wrapping around second end

Step 7. securing second side behind head

After covering the front of your face, bring it back up, pull it snug, and then secure the end into the fold you made previously, as you did with the first wrap.

securing second side

Step 7: Adjust. Take a moment to make sure everything is snug and secure. If you can’t secure the ends of the fabric, simply start over, make the initial fold, and keep everything tight and taut as you wrap. If you keep it tight, it will secure the ends when you tuck them in.

Step 8: Done! You are ready to go. If you want to uncover your mouth, you can simply loosen it up and pull it free where you tucked it, and it can hang down without undoing the entire shemagh.

This method isn’t as intuitive as the military one we looked at first, but again with just a couple of repetitions, you’ll soon be able to put it on in just a couple of seconds, and then you can cover and uncover your mouth and nose as needed.

Traditional Style

The traditional style of tying a shemagh is super quick and easy, though it’s an all-or-nothing proposition.

traditional shemagh wrap
wearing a shemag tied traditional-style

If you don’t get the tension and placement right the first time, you’ll have to undo the whole thing to adjust it, and unlike the Bedouin style, you cannot just uncover your mouth if you want to. Nonetheless, it is a good method to know…

Step 1: Fold the shemagh in half. Holding it lengthwise, bring two opposite corners together. Just a reminder, it won’t be even and perfect, but that’s okay.

folded shemagh

Step 2: Drape the shemagh over the top of your head. The corners hanging down in front of you. See picture:

shemagh over head

Step 3: Bring the left side tightly under the chin. With your left hand, grab the right side hanging down in front of you, bunch it up, and then bring it under your chin tightly and up along the left side of your head.

bring left side under chin

Step 4: Wrap the right side in front. Now with your right hand, grab the left corner, lift it up so it is even with your nose, and then bring it across in front of your face.

Make sure you are still holding the right side you brought under your chin tightly so that everything stays snug; otherwise, it won’t hold.

wrapping right side

Step 5: Bring both ends behind the head. Holding on to both ends still, continue on and bring them both behind your head, tying them off with two overhand knots to secure them.

tie both ends

Step 6: Check and adjust. Make sure the fabric up front covering your nose is secure, but not mashing it flat; otherwise, you won’t be able to stand it for long. If it’s too tight or not tight enough, start over at the point where you have the fabric hanging down in front of you.

Step 7: Done! After you get the tension just right, you’ll be all set.

The traditional method is deceptively simple. You’ve got to get the tension just right for it to be comfortable and also stay secure, and it takes a couple of tries before you nail it.

But once you do, it’ll be just like tying your shoes: you’ll be able to do it without thinking about it and get it perfect every time.

tying a shemagh pinterest

Source link: by Tom Marlowe at

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