Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or keeping warm while camping, it’s important to construct your fire safely and sensibly. Here’s how:
Gather your supplies
For both kinds of fires, you’ll need the following:
- Tinder (dry twigs, paper, dry pine needles)
- Kindling (small, short sticks)
- Firewood (dead branches or dry logs)
- A bucket of water in case the fire spreads
Build a campfire
- Clear a space of all combustible material. If the ground is wet, use dry wood as a platform.
- Place a handful of tinder at the centre of your fireplace. Make a “box” around it with kindling. Build up a teepee or cone shape for cooking. A pyramid, constructed like a log cabin, is best if your fire is for warmth.
- Place firewood around the outside of the box, so that the flames spread from the tinder to the kindling to the firewood.
- Light from the side that’s sheltered from the wind.
Make a safe bonfire area
Bonfires are much larger than traditional campfires, so be sure to take special precautions:
- Light your bonfire when it’s least likely to affect neighbours — not on a warm, sunny day.
- Let your neighbours know before you light your fire.
- Make sure that someone is supervising the fire at all times.
- Keep children and animals at a safe distance.
- Place the fire away from buildings, sheds, fences and overhanging trees.
- Use only dry wood. Damp material, green leaves and branches from live trees will produce clouds of unpleasant smoke.
- Don’t burn household waste, especially rubber, plastics or painted materials.
Build the perfect bonfire
- Start with a heap of kindling that will burn quickly.
- Place a log or some woody prunings at either side, then two more logs across the top to make a platform.
- Build up the pyre with a crisscross of more branches, brambles, logs and other woody material, tapering towards the top.
- Fill any big gaps with more kindling or smaller twigs and branches.
- Light with a rolled-up newspaper torch. Never use paraffin or gasoline to get the fire going.
A safe and comfortable fire is a great place to celebrate or hang out with friends and family. Always put safety first when building a fire and, when you’re all finished, put the fire out completely before heading out.