Aluminum foil really is a crazy remarkable thing when you think about it – and friend to many an avid camper and Boy Scout over the years. A metal that can be made so thin we rip it all the time in the kitchen, and so heat resistant it’s often cool to the touch when removed from a baked oven dish that is steaming and bubbling with warm supper goodness. This resistance to heat brings up a natural question: “Can aluminum foil catch fire?”
While aluminum does have a high temperature point where it can catch fire at, it’s very hard to hit at a stunning 1,220 degrees. Because of this aluminum foil is a favorite of campsite cooks, even getting placed directly on dying campfires or a solid bed of coals without much concern.
If you really, really wanted to set aluminum foil on fire there are ways you could do it…but you would need something closer to a welding torch or blow torch versus any oven, campfire, or grill. There’s a reason aluminum foil is so popular and can be used to cook food even while camp cooking over open fires.
A quick and easy way to make a meal in scout camp was to toss the veggies, meat, and sauce or seasonings on some aluminum foil, wrap it up, and place all the “aluminum foil footballs” right on the campfire coals. Trust me, if aluminum foil could catch fire under normal circumstances, I would have found out many, many times.
So just how safe is aluminum foil around a fire and why is it so great while cooking over a campfire? I’m going to dive in and find out!
Aluminum Foil Is Safe for Campfire Cooking?
I can say from over 35 years of using aluminum foil in various ways while cooking on campouts with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts that it is safe for cooking with a campfire. There are several ways we commonly did this, but there are some things to remember:
- Aluminum foil is 100% safe to use on a grill over campfire coals
- Aluminum foil is almost always perfectly safe directly on campfire coals (not a raging fire – which you shouldn’t be cooking on anyway)
- Aluminum foil is safe for lining Dutch Ovens when cooking delicious campfire desserts
The burning point for aluminum foil where the temperature is high enough to start scorching, then burning, the aluminum is 1,220 degrees according to Wilderness Redefined. A campfire at its absolute hottest, when it’s in full flames and burning its hottest (well before you should be doing any cooking) is around 1500 to 1650 degrees at its peak.
The average campfire burns down closer to 1000 degrees and once it’s down to coals, when it’s perfect for cooking, puts it below the 1220 burning point for aluminum but high enough to make for some solid cooking directly on coals, and well, well below catch fire point on any grills that are a bit above the campfire cooking coals.
So as long as you’re not throwing a foil package into the middle of a bonfire…which I have nothing to say to help you if you thought that was a good idea for cooking, then you should be good to go.
Common Aluminum Foil & Fire Questions
Is aluminum foil a fire hazard?
No. If you have a fire at the point where it’s burning, you likely have an out of control or raging fire and it’s not the aluminum foil that’s an issue. If you really want to try to light aluminum foil on fire you can do it, but it’s not an easy thing to do and it takes effort.
Can you put aluminum foil in a fire?
Yes. Foil packs are a very common way to cook. If you are hoping that the fire will burn the foil so you don’t have to throw it in the garbage, that generally will not work. If you’re looking to dispose of it, carry out your trash instead of burning because even if you have a lot of little balled up bits of aluminum foil to toss into the fire, you’ll find bits of them left the next day in the ashes that still need to be taken away.
Is aluminum foil fire resistant?
Yes, to the extent that it has a fairly high burning point. A hot enough fire will burn aluminum, but you have to really work at it.
What happens when aluminum foil burns?
The foil tends to brown and blacken, it can shrivel or shrink, a coiled ball of it is likely to not burn entirely with the outside charred black but the inside resistant enough to avoid being completely immolated.
Can you cook with aluminum foil on a camp stove?
Using aluminum foil while cooking on a camp stove is pretty common, actually. Prep your meal and then make sure to place the aluminum directly on the grill grates on medium-high heat and you’re good to go.
Can I line my grill with aluminum foil?
You should not do this. The foil itself isn’t in danger of burning but it can collect grease from cooking meat and that buildup can lead to a massive grease fire which could be extremely dangerous.
Aluminum foil is something I frequently pack when we’re having a family campout for the weekend.
So Is Aluminum Foil Safe To Use With a Fire?
Cooking with aluminum foil is safe! It is often used to line pans in the oven at home, it is used on grills, and although aluminum might burn a little bit if you toss it into a raging campfire when it’s in full flames and burning mode, well before it breaks down to coals (and likely will a little bit in a raging bonfire), for cooking purposes you should be fine as long as you use common sense.
If you’re hoping to actually burn up aluminum foil, good luck. From years of camping I’ve seen balls of aluminum foil charred to a crisp after a multi-hour campfire at night and there were still some remnants afterwards the next morning.
The hottest point of the average campfire just begins reaching the point where aluminum can burn, but unless it’s shredded or powdered (Fun fact: powdered aluminum is a major ingredient for sparklers) generally your average campfire is not going to set the aluminum foil on fire when cooking or be enough to get rid of it at the end of a meal or camping trip.
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