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Recreation Advocate

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Campfire Grill Combo - It Works

Campfire in a canFrom a grill to a campfire - unique product provides versitility and function, and is environmentally friendly

Early afternoon and the motorhome was parked.  I finished the final campsite chores and began thinking about dinner preparations - hamburgers grilled over charcoal.  And, I had a new charcoal grill provided by Camp-Fire-in-a-Can to try.

Nationwide, land management agencies and campground operators are removing traditional fire rings and charcoal grills.  They are maintenance intensive and often collect unsightly trash.  And, ground fires when not properly extinguished, have been linked to forest fires.  In all, a long cherished tradition of a campfire is becoming a memory of the past.

This has created an opportunity for Camp-Fire-in-a-Can.  Their product is a combination charcoal grill and wood burning fire container claiming to be environmentally friendly.  Their product would be used for the evening meal and evening campfire.

 





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Capmpfire in a can - grilling burgersThe fire container is in a compact self-contained “can”.  The base is a heavy gauge steel that serves as the base for the fire.  The base sits on top of a circular sheet-metal spacer that serves as support and an insulator to keep the heat away from the ground.  Studies have found that excessive heat on the ground can damage the vegetation and inhibit seed germination with a resulting perpetual circle where the fire burned.  While the goal is to not transfer heat to the ground, proper precautions do call for clearing flammable material from the around the fire container as a safety step.

Next are two sheet-metal cylinders that contain the fire and serve as support for the optional cooking and smoking grill.  These cylinders have perforations that allow air-flow  to keep the fire burning. I soon had the grill assembled and charcoal lit. The ample air-flow soon had the coals ready for cooking and with hamburgers in place on the grill, the sizzling began. 

Grilling over charcoal is different than grilling over a propane flame.  Propane is hotter and will cook in shorter time.  One thing with the Camp-Fire-in-a-Can is the two sheet metal cylinders, one rests on top of the other.  For normal set-up (the campfire), the both cylinders are used. For grilling, only the lower section is used to keep the cooking surface closer to the heat source.  This set-up also accommodates the smoker feature.Campfire in a can - campfire

As this was my first time using this cooking arrangement, I did note differences from past experience with other grills.  I did find that cooking time was lnger than anticipated. More heat ar closer to the flame?  And, there is no way to move the cooking surface closer to the flame.  So, next time, a few more charcoal brikettes will be used.  There is nothing better than a slow-cooked hamburger that retains flavor and juice.  And, the CampFire-in-a-Can provided a great grillling surface to for a flavorful meal.

After dinner, I set the grill aside and used the remaining coals to start a campfire.  The fire container does not accept large diameter logs.  During the evening, I tried construction grade 1x and 2x4s along with a mix of hardwood and pine.  Overall, hardwood and pine less than 3 inches in diameter worked best.  Larger logs need to be split and provide a good fire source.  The construction scrap burned with uneven heat.
Campfire in a can - morning after
Overall, after using the charcoal for dinner and a subsequent five plus hours of campfire, there was remarkably little residual ash.  What did remain was easily disposed.  The perforated sheet-metal rings provided ample air-flow contributing to a clean and complete burning fire.  And, once cleaned up and packed away, there was no residual mark on the ground vegetation.

The unit is functional and compact.  My setup is for charcoal and wood.  The unit is also available with a propane burner so that charcoal and wood are not an issue.  While that may be a better solution for RVs with space, many of my trips are in a jeep with limited space.  Not having to deal with a bulky propane bottle is a plus.

Overall, the CampFire-in-a-Can provides a combination grilling and campfire source that is environmentally friendly.  One word of caution, always check the local land management agency fire risk conditions before using ANY open flame heat source in fire risk areas.

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