How to Build a Beach Bonfire
We are getting into prime beach bonfire season. Here are simple directions to get one going in no time. Remember to always check beach regulations to see if bonfires are permissible.
Gather material for your fire, stick to dried wood or pieces of old crates; but make sure the crates weren't ever holding anything remotely flammable, as this could cause an explosion.
At the actual site of your bonfire, dig a shallow pit with a diameter at least two feet larger than the planned area of your fire. Although the wind almost always blows at the beach, if it is an exceptionally windy day, you may want to forget the fire. Not only might the wind hinder the fire from burning well, it also could cause pieces of burning debris to blow onto other objects or other people.
Begin in the center of the pit by building your fire from small to large, meaning, use small materials first and put the large ones on later. Use dried leaves, paper, dried moss, tiny dead branches or twigs: this is known as tinder. Put the tinder into a small pile and then gather a bunch of kindling. Kindling is larger sticks, up to an inch in diameter. Gather lots of kindling and tinder, just in case the fire doesn't take at first. Have your bigger logs and pieces of crate on hand for after the fire gets going. Position the kindling over the tinder in a sort of teepee fashion; this will protect the tinder from the wind and it keeps the fuel compact so it will ignite more efficiently. Keep the extra tinder, kindling, and the large logs and crates well away from the blaze.
Light the tinder and once it ignites, it should in turn, ignite the kindling. If it does not, continue to add more tinder to the small flame until the kindling ignites. Once the kindling ignites, add more kindling, until you have a significant blaze. When the fire is large enough not to be put out by the larger logs and objects, they can be added. Add logs only one or two at a time to conserve them and to avoid making a bigger blaze than you want. At this point, you are your company can enjoy the warmth and roast some marshmallows; just continue to feed the fire every so often, and always keep it attended. If you want to leave the fire area, unless someone stays behind to tend the fire, it should be extinguished.
At the end of the evening, put the fire completely out. Gather water in buckets from the ocean and douse it thoroughly. After all evidence of burning embers is gone, remove any large chunks of burnt wood and then throw sand over the rest of the ashes. Responsible fire care and safety will make for a fun evening and keep privileges available for everyone else.