For hundreds of years, fires have always been lit inside the temporary homes of the American Plains Indians and Sami people to keep their families warm – and there is no difference with our tipis. Even in the harshest of winters, a flickering open fire within the teepee can transform it into a secure and cosy space where friends and family can gather round and share memories – albeit under strict guidelines for fire safety.
The shape of our tipis lend itself to having fire ‘indoors’ perfectly, with a circular shape, a wide base and the fire positioned in the centre. Where does the smoke go, you may ask? Our canvases have been designed with a clever smoke cap at the top that can be pulled back with the use of ropes to allow the smoke to escape.
The Tipi Company tipis have the ideal height-width ratio that makes smoke removal as effective as possible without having an effect on the weather resistance of the structure. The height of the tipis is needed in order to create the airflow required to assist this process and allow fresh air back in and this is so, due to the different weights of air (smoky air weighs less than the fresh air and hence floats high and out of the tipi, while the fresh air floats in!).
When lighting a fire inside the tipi, the last thing you want is a smoke screen. The process of lighting the fire and extracting the smoke is very delicate as it is dependent on the strength of the airflow and the patience of the individual lighting it.
Top Tips (for even the most experienced fire-maker)
Don’t let the fire burn too low – it is easy to forget and then panic and put a few-too-many logs back onto the fire to get it burning again but we recommend against this as it will create a lot of smoke. Keep an eye on the fire, delegate one member of the team / event to it, to ensure a constant fire is stoked.
Use the correct wood – wood tends to be of varying quality and can smoke in different ways. Avoid birch bark (burns well but gives off a black soot); pine stumps & other tar pines; spruce wood (can give off flying fire sparks). Practice makes perfect so work out what works for you best. We recommend the use of smokeless logs, which can be found in any good hardware store. Also ensure the fireplace is clean and free of ash / debris before starting a new fire, and never put anything other than wood on the fire.
Tie the smoke flaps back – our tipis have been designed with a separate smoke cap which sits at the top of the canvas, around the top crown. When a fire is lit inside, you must tie these flaps back to allow the extraction of the smoke.
Respect fire – fire is a very sensitive element and must be treated with the up-most respect to ensure safety throughout. Keep children away from naked flames and never make a fire without at least one sober person who is continually in charge of it.
Never leave a fire unattended in a tipi – always put out a fire once an event has finished.