How to Make a Quick Bonfire in Your Backyard for Lag B'omer
by: Jason Hewett, Lubicom Staff
There’s something more captivating than staring at a screen – the light of a beautiful bonfire. I’m not sure if Shimon Bar Yochai intended for the bonfire lighting tradition to pull us away from screens, but it’s a great tradition for spending time with family, learning to barbecue, and making a quick bonfire in the backyard.
You Will Need
- Dry twigs
- Tinder (newspaper works well)
- Matches or a long neck lighter
- Fire pit or a clearing surrounded by stones.
1. Choose a location with at least a 10-foot perimeter around the bonfire that is free of anything that could combust or suffer heat and smoke damage. To build a makeshift fire pit, dig six inches into the ground and line the hole's perimeter with bricks or stones.
2. To start a bonfire, you’ll need tinder or a highly combustible material. You can use newspaper, dried leaves/grass, or cardboard. Place your tinder in the center of the fire pit.
3. Use small, dry twigs to build a little tepee around your tinder. It is important that the twigs are small and thin so that they burn easily, as they are the foundation of your bonfire. Children can help with this part of building the bonfire, which can be fun for them. Be sure to leave an “open door” in the tepee where you can light the tinder. Gather more sticks than you need for the tepee structure and keep a pile of them within reach.
4. Have the children stand back as you light the tinder between the twigs with a lighter or match. Once you can see a flame on the twigs, you can blow on the base of the fire lightly for it to grow larger. Use extra caution and keep children at a safe distance.
5. Add more twigs slowly and carefully as the fire grows until you have a steady fire, about the size of a small campfire. Now you can send the kids off again in search of more twigs and sticks. Challenge them to find the right sizes.
6. Add two logs to the sides of the fire. They should be parallel to one another with the fire in between them. The sides without logs aerate the base of the fire – fires need oxygen to burn and without proper airflow the fire will “suffocate” and the flames will go out. The big logs should sustain the fire, but you can also regularly add to it as needed with small and medium-sized sticks. Do not add tinder to the roaring fire, as this will cause flares.
7. If you’d like to grow the fire, continue adding more and more sticks in a tepee shape on all sides, gradually adding larger and larger sticks until you have a roaring fire. Let the flames settle and stabilize before gathering everyone around to sit in the warmth or roast food.
Fireside Foods for Lag B’omer
Even now as an adult I feel like there’s something undeniably magical about roasting marshmallows and meats on a stick – maybe it’s that perfect char I like to get on my marshmallows so that you can get smoky and sweet all in one bite.
When it comes to skewers, I recommend getting yourself (and especially the kids) a tool that’s designed for campfire roasting, like these extendable roasting forks. It’s fine to use wood, bamboo, or metal skewers, but they can be less comfortable to grip for young people and sometimes if you lose a wooden skewer in the fire, it can be hard to recover it. I find with the comfortable grip handles and extendable fork features you can avoid a lot of accidents and keep everyone at a nice safe distance – and then nobody needs to fight over using the longest stick.
If you plan to roast any kind of meat, make sure it is pre-cooked so that everyone can roast to their preference without worrying about internal temperature. I’m a huge fan of these Kielbasa Kebabs which work just as well over the fire as a grill, and for a classic campfire experience you can’t go wrong with these turkey hotdogs. For vegetarians, any meat substitute should work – just be sure to defrost before skewering. I also highly recommend making a vegetable kabob with fresh pineapple, bell pepper, and onion. The sweet, smoky, and zesty flavors combine really well with or without meat, and taste fantastic in a pita.
Wishing You a Bright Lag B’omer
Large or small, a safe bonfire that brings the family together to share food and tradition is always worth starting. Even if the kids aren’t quite old enough to light the fire, it’s still easy to get them involved in the process of building the foundation of the fire and keeping it going. If nothing else, a bonfire’s always nice to be around with your family, especially when there’s great food to go around. Don’t limit yourself to hotdogs and marshmallows – check out all of our Lag B’omer recipes here.
Please make sure to supervise all children and never leave them unattended around an open fire.