Do Campfires Keep Bears Away? Find Out Here!


Camping is one of the best ways to spend time with nature and your family. But one thing to keep in mind when going out camping is bears. These animals are known to scavenge around campsites and properties, and there are ways to deter them.

First, campfires do not keep bears away nor prevent them from scavenging campsites and properties. However, there are other ways to prevent a bear from entering your campsite or property.

Some of the more effective ways to do so include scent, sound, and visual deterrents, which are discussed below. Furthermore, others may consist of a more proactive approach, such as bear sprays, carrying a slingshot, and installing electric fences. Keep reading to learn more about how you can keep bears away.


Why Bears Like to Go to Campgrounds and Properties

Although there are several reasons why bears usually stray to campgrounds or other people’s properties, one of the main one is the association of campgrounds and people’s properties with food.

Some people might be growing fruits and vegetables in their gardens, raising chickens, storing food in their campgrounds, or having garbage lying around. These are the main reasons why bears would stray off into campgrounds and properties: in search of food.

When coming into contact with bears, you must treat those situations very seriously. Although bears signify low statistical risks to people, some of them are more aggressive than others, such as grizzly bears. Smaller black bears, on the other hand, tend to run away when you make your presence known.


What Smells Deter Bears?

Luckily, several scents can deter bears. You can find them in your kitchen or even purchase them at the supermarket or the closest outdoor store.


Essentially a cleaning and disinfecting product, Lysol can be used to deter bears from your campground. All you have to do is spray some onto things that naturally attract bears, including garbage. You can even spray a cover and use it to hide your food stash in your campground.


PineSol is another multipurpose cleaning alternative to keep bears away from your campground or property. Unlike Lysol, PineSol is made out of pine oil. A spray of this product will leave behind a fresh pine scent, which bears famously dislike. Therefore, a strong spray of PineSol will definitely do the trick.


Ammonia is another strong-scented substance that is primarily used for cleaning. Otherwise, it is also used as a fertilizer, refrigerant gas, textiles, and pesticides.

Due to its strong and not-so-pleasant scent, bears tend to avoid ammonia-scented properties.

However, for your sake, use it minimally. If you spray too much of it onto your items, you’ll end up chucking them into the trash instead.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Another strong-smelling household concoction, apple cider vinegar, can be easily purchased at any supermarket. Aside from taking a morning shot of it in the morning, you can bring a bottle to your camping adventure just in case.

Apple cider vinegar is known to repel bears due to its potent smell. Some usually would just soak a small cloth in them and hang them out, especially near items that may attract bears, such as food supply.


The Essentials to Deter a Bear While Camping or Hiking

Aside from scent-based items, there are several other ways to deter bears from coming to your property or campsite. You can install several of these deterrents on your property to ensure that your household, as well as the property within your land, are bear-proof.

Below are several examples that you can take note of for your property.

Bear Spray

A must-have when going to a bear-populated national park. Bear sprays can be purchased at any outdoor store and national park station right before you enter your campsite. Whether you are trekking toward your destination or gathering around a campfire, having a bear spray nearby is incredibly handy.

Bear spray deterrents are essentially made up of highly irritant ingredients, such as capsaicin. This spray can effectively deter a charging, aggressive bear.

When using this spray, make sure it is pointed away from your fellow campers and that you do not risk it coming in contact with your skin, especially your hands. If you rub your face, eyes, or pick your nose with some bear spray on your hand, you are going to get extremely uncomfortable.

Bear Canisters

Bear canisters are a must as well when you plan to camp in areas known to host a significant number of bears. Bear canisters are essentially containers to store your food or any other items that may attract bears by scent.

Not only will bear canisters reduce the odor transmission of the food inside it, but it is also physically strong enough to withstand any bear’s attempt to open it.

If you are looking for a bear canister, Backpacker’s Cache Bear Proof Container might be the perfect product for you. This brand produces high-quality bear canisters and has been tested and proven effective against bears.


If you do not have the confidence to carry a gun, a slingshot is a perfect alternative. Slingshots are reliable and, in a way, will never run out of ammo in the woods. 

The ammo of choice for slingshots is small pebbles. Gather a few of them when you have a handy slingshot by your side.

Keep in mind not to use projectiles larger than a golf ball. Big projectiles could sometimes cause a problem with the firing mechanism when releasing. Furthermore, bigger projectiles may cause more serious damages to the bear. You don’t want to seriously injure the bear; just hurt it enough for it to go away.

The NISPOTDOR Professional Slingshot is one of the more popular slingshots on the market. Get one of these, and you will be pretty set in deterring bears from your campsite or property.

Bear-deterring Horns

Aside from scents, bears reportedly dislike loud noises. Supposedly, you can use bear-deterrent horns to scare off a charging bear.

Some horns are specifically designed to deter bears. One such product on the market is the SABRE Frontiersman Bear Horn. These horns can be heard from approximately half a mile away. It is definitely useful to make your presence known to any nearby bears while trekking in the woods. This helps keep the bears away from you and your friends.

Make Noise

Making noise is sometimes all you need to deter bears from crossing your path.

Instinctively, bears will stay away from humans. So, when you are hiking in the woods or chilling at your campsite, say something out loud once in a while. This will essentially let bears know that you are nearby. Therefore, they will stay away.


Keeping Bears of Your Property

Some bears, especially black bears, scavenge for food. In some parts of the U.S., those bears tend to scavenge in populated areas. They go for garbage, bird feeders, dog bowls, and whatever fruits or vegetables you might be growing in your backyard.

Therefore, it would be smart to set up bear-deterring protection to keep them away from your property. While black bears are usually quite cautious and passive, brown bears or even grizzly bears can cause serious damages to your property when scrounging around for food.

Below are several ideas regarding what you can install on your property.

Unwelcome Mats

There are several ways to make unwelcome mats, which are practically mats or wooden boards with deterrence on them. These will not only deter bears but might also discourage other predators around the area—including unwanted people.

One option is a board full of nails pointing upward. It is super simple since all you need is a wooden plank, a dozen or so nails, and a hammer. Place those in front of your door, windows, or anywhere else where bears might be rummaging around. These are easy to make and very inexpensive.

Another type of unwelcome mat is the electrified one. This type of mat requires more material than the other type of unwelcome mats. This may include a thick rubber mat, electric fence charger, and a ground wire, to name a few. You can find instructions on the internet on how to make them safely and effectively.

However, make sure to inform anyone approaching your property about the electrified mats as they may harm them. These mats are better suited for properties like warehouses, storage units, and any other property that may attract bears.

You might have to weigh your options when installing one in your household. If you have kids and/or house pets, safety might be an issue.

Barking Dog Alarm

A barking dog alarm might be another option for your household. The ED-50 Rex Plus Electronic Watchdog can be perfect for you. These dog barking alarms are specially designed to keep both intruders and trespassing animals out of your property.

You can either place them indoors or outdoors. Once the dog alarm detects movements, it activates and begins barking. Furthermore, with this device, when the trespasser starts approaching the device, the alarm barks even more frequently and louder, increasing in intensity.

Place it on spots where you want to keep bears away—maybe a greenhouse where you are growing your vegetables, garbage dump, or the front door. If the bear gets closer and the alarm gets louder, it will wake you up, giving you the chance to use other deterrence options.

Automated Lights

Supposedly, bright lights can also work in deterring bears at night. Instead of flashing lights on your own toward a trespassing bear, you can install automated light systems around your property.

Although their efficacy is yet to research in-depth, these visual deterrents are known to serve as a warning system to unwanted scavengers rummaging around your property.

The MAGIC CAT solar-powered animal repelling light is specifically designed to drive animals away by rapidly flickering bright red lights. Additionally, its lights are designed to look like the eyes of a large predator, which scares wild animals out of the trespassed area.

Finally, the light is waterproof and solar-powered. It will automatically turn on at dusk when no sunlight is detected and turn off at dawn. If you don’t want to bother installing a deterrent that physically affects bears, such as an electric fence or anything that makes any loud noises, then automated lights might be the best option for you.

Electric Fencing

A popular option for people living in areas with a high population of bears, an electric fence might do the trick. 

Some people install electric fences in areas including:

  • Beehives
  • Fruit orchards
  • Livestock enclosures
  • Grain sheds
  • Hunting and campgrounds

Although the first impression might be expensive and too complicated, many reportedly state that it is a relatively simple and cost-effective way to deter bears from your property. Additionally, they are pretty easy and economical to maintain.

Essentially, when a bear attempts to climb over or break through a fence, the fence wires shock the bear. Although it may harm human beings who touch the fence, electric shocks are only unpleasant for bears. They are not lethal nor harmful to them, as long as your electric fence is adjusted in the proper setting.

Once a bear touches the fence, they know it shocks them. If they touch it more than once, they will learn quickly that the only thing that they will do is keep shocking them. Therefore, they will learn to stay away from the fence.



When you venture into the great outdoors for activities such as camping and hiking, it is inevitable that you will encounter its residents. From small bugs to huge mammals, you need to be careful of wild animals that may scavenge around your campsite. One of the animals that you need to be wary of are bears that may be attracted to the scent of your food. 

Once again, campfires do not keep bears away from your campground or property. However, there are more effective ways to keep bears away. For instance, you may utilize the deterrents mentioned above, which will surely keep you and your belongings safe.

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