A good bonfire is the key to any number of outdoor events. Get the party started with these tips.
: Use extreme caution when dealing with fire. Keep an extinguisher on hand and always check with local authorities before building a bonfire.
Step 1: Prepare the fire pit Dig a pit six to 12 inches deep with a diameter of five feet. Place a ring of large stones along the edge.
: The fire pit should be at least 50 feet from any buildings, trees, or cars.
Step 2: Collect the wood Collect the wood. You'll need tinder, dry twigs eight to 10 inches long and no thicker than a pencil; kindling, pieces of wood eight to 24 inches long and no thicker than a wrist; and fuel logs, which can be up to 48 inches long and eight inches in diameter. Collect a variety of sizes for each kind.
TIP: The dryer the wood, the easier the fire will be to light.
Step 3: Position the small twigs Put a bundle of the small twigs between two short fuel logs in the center of your fire pit. Position the bundle so it's leaning up against one of the logs.
TIP: For easier lighting, wad up newspaper and place it under the pile of tinder.
Step 4: Position the kindling Lean two loose bundles of the larger branches against either side of the tinder pile. Lay a row of medium-size kindling across the two fuel logs.
Step 5: Stack Lay two large logs on top of the stack, perpendicular to the two large logs at the bottom. Then, stack a few bundles of kindling between the logs and on top. Position each bundle so it's perpendicular to the one under it. Top the pile off with two short, fat logs, placed perpendicular to the large logs under them.
Step 6: Position vertical kindling Lean larger, longer pieces of kindling vertically around the pile. Make sure to leave a gap in the kindling large enough for your arms to fit through, so you can light the tinder inside.
Step 7: Position the vertical fuel Make a tripod around the kindling with the largest fuel logs; the logs should support each other where they meet at the top. Then fill in the empty spaces with more fuel logs, forming a tepee. Be careful not to destabilize the structure. Leave a space in the same location as the gap in the kindling so you can reach inside the stack.
Step 8: Light the fire Light the tinder or newspaper at the bottom of the pile and monitor the fire's progress. If the tinder needs more air, gently blow on the base of the pile until it catches fire. Fill in the gap you left in the fuel log tepee and watch your bonfire grow.
Step 9: Fire maintenance Maintain the fire by adding more logs like you would to any other fire. When the party's over, make sure to completely extinguish the fire before you leave the area.
FACT: The first practical fire engine was tested in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1853.