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First Look: Instant Campfire

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Ok, I’ll admit it, sometimes I hate starting a cooking fire when camping. It means gathering (or buying) firewood, getting it started, then tending to it until the coals are just right. So, when the Burnie All Wood Self-Burning Grill arrived on our doorstep, I was excited to test it out.

The Burnie Grill is a self-contained, portable fire made from alder wood with no chemicals or accelerants involved. Once the Burnie is lit, the charcoal in the center of the grill catches and provides consistent and steady heat for cooking. The company advertises the ability to place a grate or pot directly onto the coals and cook anything from s’mores to steak.

Nordic Origins: The design is rather ingenious and based on a Nordic technique for burning stumps where radial cuts in a log let oxygen flow in to the center of the fire, creating a strong burn. To use the Burnie, simply light the center wick and watch the flame spread outward.

Availability and Cost: It comes in a large and medium size with burn times of 2.5 and 1.5 hours respectively. Cost is $14.95 and $12.95.

Our Test: When we tried it on a 25-degree day with wind, we had a bit of trouble getting the wick to light. Once we took it out and started it by itself, we left it to burn. The company says that 20 minutes is all you need for coals ready to cook over. In our test, it took about 30 minutes for all the coals to ignite.

We cooked hotdogs and s’mores over it with ease. Because the fire and heat was contained within the wood block, it was much easier to get closer to the heat without having to worry about flames searing the food or your hands. The company advertises being able to cook steak and other meats by placing a grate right on top of the wood.

Once the cooking is done, the Burnie simply burns itself out or provides the base for the night’s campfire if you add more wood. Ours took about 2 hours 45 minutes to completely burn out.

What We Thought: The Burnie is a great (and maybe the only) option for an on-the-go cooking fire. It’s an easy choice for car camping where weight and space aren’t an issue. It’s faster and provides more consistent heat than cooking over a regular campfire and it doesn’t burn off any funky chemicals or leave behind anything to dispose of. Because of its weight and size, it probably isn’t good for any sort of backpacking or camping where you’re dealing with limited room. For instant, easy fire the Burnie cannot be beat.

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