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How to make a Halloween bonfire

Updated on September 12, 2011

Background on Halloween Bonfire

A bonfire is one of the activities associated with Halloween. Halloween bonfires are intentional and controlled. However without proper planning a Halloween bonfire can turn out to be a disaster as it can get out of hand

Halloween bonfires also create family activities especially among children.

The first step of making a great and memorable Halloween bonfire is to plan every stage and create different tasks to different people based on activities.

The origin of Halloween Bonfire

Samhain was a celebration of celebrating the end of summer and beginning of winter. Animals were slaughtered to be stored for the coming dark season. On the eve of Samhain, young people would go from house to house starting the bonfires. The following day, people would extinguish the fires and go to the hilltop to light one huge fire while making sacrifices to the gods. This fire would be made of the bones and crops as offerings. Also personal effects were burned to avoid bad omen or get cured from diseases. The Celtics believed that the wall between the spirits world and the earth were so thin and the spirits, good and bad crossed to the world and the fires were believed to scare away them. People wore costumes on their bodies to disguise and to frighten the spirits.

Once the fire was over, embers were carried home to start the home fire and the ashes were distributed in the fields as a sign of good luck.

Samhain is what the Halloween became as we know it today.

Let’s look at what is needed to make a Halloween bonfire

The first thing to do to have a safe and successful Halloween bonfire is to select the location of the fire

The venue for a Halloween bonfire should be away from the fence, avoid windy places as this makes one loose the bonfire control as the wind takes over and may result to a disaster.

The location must be:

· Not windy at all

· Far from electricity pole or wires

· Away from the fence

· Away from the house

· Not on vegetation or flower beds

· Spacious for all to sit around

· Outside with fresh air as fire produces poisonous carbon monoxide

· Must have and escape route

Collect enough fire woods, newspapers, cardboards, old cloths, cartons etc.

Have a lighter or a matchbox

A fire extinguisher, metal bucket full of construction sand


Gather as much dry woods and branches as possible, this is a group task and children can be involved

If you are not near a forest or access to wood, buy or look for old broken furniture in the store, however old furniture may have plastic parts, cloths, nails, polish which will affect the quality of the air once burned. If you live near a construction site, ask the managers of the site for woods as they may have some they are willing to dispose.

Other items that can be used for Halloween bonfire include, old clothes, newspapers, cartons, hay as long as they are dry. It is important to gather woods that will last you the length of time you intend to stay near the Halloween bonfire, imagine running of wood before your intended Halloween stay, its kinda anticlimax

There are two ways to light the fire, first you can use a round metal of a diameter of about 3 to 4 feet, and such a round metal can be found among huge drums that are used for carrying industrial lubricants and oil. A construction site may become handy in this too.

The second way is to have a long pole that is placed at the centre of the intended bonfire and all other woods are placed around it and fire is started at the bottom. The pole must be part of the collected wood, so to start a fire this way; you must have collected this pole with the woods

How to start the Halloween Bonfire

Let’s imagine that you will use a big round metal to start fire on it. Make sure the metal is clean and dry. Get old newspapers, books, magazines and shred it to small pieces. Using the shreds, make ball with your hands. Arrange the balls at the centre of the intended Halloween bonfire. If you have pieces of cardboards or cartons, shred them in a longitudinal manner and place them on the newspapers balls. Select small wood first and place them on top of the cardboards or cartons and add the bigger woods on top. Make sure that you have placed everything around evenly creating a sort of a circular pyramid. Get a lighter and start the Halloween bonfire first by lighting the newspapers. Blow the fire until it start to spread on the cardboards and the woods.

Some people start the fire with petrol, but I would not recommend the use of petrol. However if you can get diesel or kerosene, you can use to start the fire, but petrol is too risky

The fire will build as time goes by and keep on pushing the unburned parts of the wood to the fire as it continues.

To ensure that you are safe, a fire extinguisher is handy, if you cannot get a fire extinguisher, have a metal bucket full of building sand, an old blanket may also become handy in putting off the Halloween bonfire just in case anything goes wrong.

As much as you want to enjoy the Halloween bonfire remember safety comes first and be responsible. I always advice people planning to have a Halloween bonfire to carry some sort of a whistle just in case, maybe I am a bit paranoid but my father told me once and I quote “fire is a good servant but a bad master” Halloween or no Halloween remember that.

While around the fire you can listen to your favorite Halloween songs, taking hot beverages like cups coffee, cocoa or tea as well as having those Halloween bonfire snacks.


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