Confession: I’m not an experienced camper, just an enthusiastic novice
I camped in a lovely place this weekend and our campsite had a ready-made firepit complete with a one foot high (approx) circle of large rocks around it.
Prior to this trip, I’d assumed the sole purpose of the rock circle was to confine the fire, making it safer. Several observation from this weekend have me adding other, equally important functions for the rock circle.
The evening was cool (low 50’s) and a mild breeze blew. The fire started easily with a few scraps of paper and twigs. The addition of slightly larger sticks, however, resulted in extinguishment. Undeterred, my camping savvy GF re-lit the thing. This time, more cautious with additions (real meaning-forbidding me to smother the fire), slowly she built it up.
Within 15 minutes or so the campfire blazed. The flames attained a height of 1-2 feet (high enough, but with a margin of safety, my GF assured). Nevertheless, unless I was nearly on top of the fire, or in the path of the smoke, it didn’t feel very warm. Furthermore, our difficulties maintaining a roaring blaze continued for an hour or so.
At this point, without an increase in flame intensity, the campfire gradually became warmer from our vantage. Additionally, logs added to the fire ignited easily and save for the addition of logs by us, the campfire became self-sustaining. Concurrently, I noticed that the rocks in the rock circle were hot.
Was the absorption and re-radiation of heat by the rock circle contributing to these changes? The geometry is perfect to focus thermal radiation toward the center of the circle. Might this have a catalytic effect? I considered also that the embers may play a role though I’m unsure of the magnitude of the contribution.
Any thoughts? Any observations from un-rock circled campfires?