30.09.2019 | Recycling tips

How to build the perfect bonfire…


While we provide a comprehensive wood collection service here at Fresh Start, we’re not ones to stand in the way of centuries-old traditions which involve burning it.

Guy Fawkes Night has been observed in Britain for more than 400 years, and while it only started to cast off its sectarian shackles around 150 years ago, it had become a firm favourite in the calendar by the early 20th Century.

Although the fireworks tend to hog all the headlines, the highlight of any Bonfire Night is the bonfire itself. It’s the focal point of the evening, whether in your back garden or at a wider community event, and we’ll help you build a safe but spectacular one.

Bonfire basics

As with fireworks, safety is absolutely paramount with a bonfire, so:

  • Make sure your bonfire is a good distance from any sheds, trees or fences, as well as any telephone wires or power cables above.
  • Keep the bonfire well away from any properties. Around five times the height of the bonfire is recommended.
  • Don’t use petrol to accelerate the fire as it can spread out of control very quickly or even cause explosions.
  • Always make sure you have a bucket of water to hand.
  • Never leave a bonfire unattended. At the end of the night, make sure you pour plenty of water over it to ensure that no embers can reignite.
  • Avoid burning wet or damp materials. These can cause huge billows of choking smoke to be given off.

With the last point in mind, the weather in the UK isn’t always at its best on November 5th, so try to build your bonfire as late as possible. This is also a bonus for wildlife, too, as everything from bugs to hedgehogs will make it their home inside it if it’s in place too early.

best bonfire

What materials to use

Building a great bonfire is all down to your choice of materials.

First of all, ring the outline of your pit with stones or bricks.

  • Next, you’ll need some tinder, which can be practically any kind of organic garden waste, such as twigs, weeds or bark. Arrange this into a conical shape at the centre.
  • Build around this with kindling, which can be larger stick or branches to help give the bonfire a really good structure and lets plenty of air circulate.
  • Place logs around the outside for the next layer. Preferably, you want to use dried or cured hardwood such as oak for this as it gives a truer, longer burn with a much lower amount of smoke than softer woods such as spruce or pine.
  • Repeat this process until your bonfire is the size you want it.

Once you’ve got everything in place, lighting it is a simple as striking matches by the closest layer of tinder. It’ll take a while before it blazes fully, so make sure it’s done in plenty of time, and don’t be tempted to use any liquid fuels to speed up the process.

What not to burn on your bonfire

While avoiding accelerants is the most obvious thing to steer clear of with your bonfire, other factors also come into play.

For instance, it is a criminal offence to burn any domestic waste which can endanger health or cause pollution. This means that there is a long list of household products which are on the prohibited list, including:

  • Tyres
  • Aerosols
  • Glass
  • Metal
  • Mattresses
  • Anything containing foam, including furniture
  • Paint tins
  • Batteries

Any kind of wood which has been treated mustn’t be used due to the chemicals in paint or varnish. Putting fireworks on there – even if they have been used – is flat out dangerous.

Remember, as one of the North West’s biggest independent waste contractors, we have the infrastructure in place to deal with all kinds of waste products. So instead of putting anything illegal on your bonfire, contact us.


best bonfire wood
Fresh Start Waste truck, forest carbon

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