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How to Make a Burn Bowl

Learn how to make a burn bowl from NYC Outward Bound instructor Marko Yurachek in this wilderness survival skills video from Howcast.


If you had a pot it would be easy to cook. If you have a nice campfire, a nice cooking fire, sometimes you might find yourself without a pot. If you don't have a pot you're going to need to improvise and make a bowl.

The bowl that I've made right here, or I'm making, is called a burn bowl. It's made by taking pieces of coal, putting them in the bowl, blowing on them until you get a fire. And what's going to happen, and what you can see is happening, is that that's slowly going to burn out the bottom of the bowl.

This could take a while, so you can get one or two burn bowls going. It's nice to have a couple bowls. I have a second bowl that's sitting right up behind me. And you have one bowl that's filled with water. You can dip your hot rock in it and it'll clean it off. Then take that rock and put it in another bowl, and instead of drinking charcoal-y water you'll drink clean water. So this is a good way to get things boiling and a way to make a nice bowl.

Now once you get your charcoal in your bowl and it starts to burn away the bottom, and I'm just going to dump this out to show you, you're going to want to scrape the bottom away. And if you can see, all that freshly burned area is scraping out. I'm scraping it right now with an antler. You can use a rock. You can use a stick. Most of this bowl was scraped with a stick, but I'm using this antler right now just to get the last few pieces of ash out of the bottom.

So our bowl is going to get deeper, and rounder, and nicer. At the very end you can take a rock or sand, put sand in the bottom, and then take a piece of deer hide or a piece of your shirt and rub it with the sand in the bottom. That's sort of like sandpaper and you can sand it out to a pretty smooth surface. On this one I used pumice, so I used a volcanic rock to sand it out.

So, you can get a nice bowl that will give you the ability to eat, store water, cook with water, and that's kind of what it looks like in the process. And that's a little bit further along in the process.

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