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Camping in the great outdoors during a fire ban, or just looking into options for your own backyard? During fire bans, open flames are prohibited. But that does not mean that you need to sacrifice the warmth, glow, and ambiance of a campfire altogether.
In this post, we are going to introduce you to some of the top campfire alternatives to consider for use during a fire ban.
But first, let’s go over some fire ban basics so you understand the legal and safety issues.
A fire ban is a restriction that a jurisdiction places over the use of fire. Usually, fire bans are temporary, coming into effect when conditions are especially hot and dry.
Each jurisdiction sets its own rules for fire bans, so it is always important to check with yours.
Violating a fire ban carries legal consequences. You might have to pay a hefty fine if you break the rules.
Types of Fire Bans: Partial vs. Full
Fire bans broadly fall into two categories. During a partial fire ban, you might be able to enjoy traditional wood fires within particular windows of time each day. Note, however, that you may still have to follow some tight rules regarding the fires.
During a full fire ban, on the other hand, you cannot set an open fire at all, no matter what time of day it is.
What is Prohibited and Allowed Under a Fire Ban?
The exact regulations in effect during a fire ban depend on where you are located as well as the specifics of the ban in question.
Some rules apply pretty broadly, however. For example, under a fire ban, burning firewood, manufactured logs, or combustible materials is generally prohibited.
But in many cases, you can still use certain propane-fueled campfire alternatives.
The government of British Columbia states:
“Often, campfire prohibitions still allow the use of CSA-rated or ULC-rated cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or of portable campfire apparatus that use briquettes, liquid fuel or gaseous fuel, as long as the height of the flame is less than 15 cm tall. However, in extreme fire conditions these may also be prohibited.”
So, that is great news! Just note the caveat at the end, and make sure you always double check.
How do you do that? Your local fire department or wildlife authority should have a non-emergency line you can call. You also can take a look at the authority’s website for the latest updates.
The Solution for Campfire Lovers: Fire Pits and Fire Pit Alternatives
Now that you know a bit more about fire bans, let’s take a look at some alternatives to traditional campfires.
1. Propane fire pits
While there are a number of campfire alternatives out there to consider, our top recommendation for your next camping trip is a propane fire pit.
Portable fire pits can fit within British Columbia’s fire ban guidelines. They just need to be CSA-certified and allow you to adjust the flame height to under 15 cm.
While using a fire pit instead of a traditional campfire may be an adjustment, you won’t miss the ash or smoke. And guess what? You can still roast marshmallows.
Plus, you can use smokeless fire pits on your patio with proper clearance (for patio use, also consider fire tables).
For more information about using a fire pit in your backyard, see this guide to laws and restrictions by state.
We also have a guide that specifically tells you what you need to know to choose a fire pit that is safe to use during a fire ban.
- A CSA-approved propane stove offers you the experience most similar to that of a traditional campfire, but can be safe and legal to use during a fire ban.
- You can enjoy both warmth and light with a propane fire pit along with real, beautiful flames.
- You can use a fire pit at a campground, in your backyard, or on a deck or patio.
- Fire pits are not built for cooking.
Recommended Products: Outland Living Fire Pits
Outland Living makes a line of fire pits that are appropriate for use during a fire ban. These include their Standard, Deluxe, Premium, Cypress, and Mega models, all of which use propane as fuel.
Every one of these fire pits can be used at your campsite with a regular propane tank. They are CSA-approved, and are made of high-quality materials. Their sturdy steel frames are finished with enamel and a protective powder coating, ensuring longevity against the elements. The burners and fasteners are stainless steel.
Plus, you can adjust the flame height so that it fits within fire ban regulations.
Included with an Outland Living fire pit are a pre-attached 10’ hose and regulator, a 4.4 pound natural lava rock set, and a propane tank stabilizer ring. There are also some additional compatible accessories such as a cover and carry kit, standard carry bag, and natural gas conversion kit.
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Other Campfire Alternatives to Consider During a Fire Ban
While we primarily recommend backyard fire pits for fire bans, you might be looking for fire pit alternatives. Here are a few more ideas.
2. Propane torches
Under some fire ban regulations, you might be able to use propane tonga torches. These can offer illumination at your campsite, transforming its atmosphere into one that is simultaneously more rustic and more luxurious.
As with fire pits, you will want to purchase CSA-approved products with appropriate flame heights.
- Torches add ambiance to your site.
- Like fire pits, propane torches are lightweight and portable.
- While you are enjoying real flame, it is raised off the ground and not really the same experience as sitting at a campfire.
Recommended Product: Outland Living Propane Torches
Outland Living offers two different tonga torch products for your landscape: a 20lb Tank Tonga Torch and a 1lb Tank Tonga Torch. Both are 7,000 BTU/HR, and stand 70.5” tall.
Combining sturdy materials with a lightweight design, they are easy to pick up and move around your site as needed. But they also will withstand the elements.
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3. Propane stoves
Another type of product you can consider during a fire ban is a propane-powered stove. This is an ideal solution if your main goal is to grill food in your backyard or at your campsite.
- You can cook at a CSA-approved propane stove during a fire ban.
- The stove will also provide you with some warmth.
- With a lightweight, portable stove, you can enjoy cooking at home or on vacation.
- A propane stove does not replicate the campfire experience.
Recommended Product: Outland Living Summerland Stove
The Outland Living Summerland Stove is a portable, lightweight stove that you can take with you when you travel.
The three-burner design (each is 30,000 BTU/HR) and the pair of sturdy prep surfaces make it easy to multitask while you are cooking.
Powered by propane, the stove features auto-ignition for ease-of-use, and is CSA-approved.
Other features include a 4-hook utensil holder, a pull handle, folding legs, wheels, and a pre-attached 3’ hose and regulator.
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4. Artificial Fire
The propane options above are ideal if you want real warmth at your campsite or in your backyard. But if you only want something with the appearance of a campfire, there are a few more alternatives on the market.
Among these is an artificial fire like this one from GlobalStore. It features fluttering cloth and an LED light to mimic the appearance of flames. But it is not warm, and it is a bit noisy.
- This is an economical campfire alternative.
- There is no warmth from this product.
- Artificial fires can be noisy.
- There is nothing realistic about the experience.
- You need to be able to power the device.
5. LED Flame Lights
Similar to the type of product above are LED flame lights like this one by BTY. These lights feature what looks like realistic flames inside a kind of “jar.” Once again, they are faux, and the effect is entirely an illusion. Just keep in mind that you will need to keep the batteries charged (not always convenient while camping).
- This is another cost-effective solution.
- The flames can be surprisingly realistic.
- Your lights may run out of charge sometimes.
- It is still not a real flame, nor does it provide warmth.
6. LED Lights and Tissue Paper
Finally, some people like the DIY option of tossing a string of LED lights into an empty fire pit at a campground, and then crinkling orange, red and yellow tissue paper around it. This type of faux fire is entirely static. There is no flickering or movement. This is your least impressive option, but in a pinch, it might be okay.
- This is a fast and easy DIY solution, and therefore very cheap as well.
- This type of artificial campfire in no way, shape or form resembles the real thing. There is no warmth and not movement either.
Get the Campfire Alternative You Need for Warmth or Ambiance
As you can see, there are a lot of great alternatives to open fires that are safe and legal under many fire bans.
So, whether you are looking for an alternative to burning wood at a campground or in your own backyard, consider a propane fire pit, propane torch, or camp stove. Any one of these products can help you to enhance your enjoyment of your outdoor space.