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Campfire vs Bonfire 

Have you ever wondered what the difference was between a campfire vs bonfire?  Are they built differently?  Is one bigger than the other?

When we use the term campfire or bonfire, most people use the term loosely and think of them as one in the same.  

It's not uncommon to hear someone say "We had a bonfire last night and it was a lot of fun" or "We had a few people over for a campfire since it was so nice out."

While they may be similar in nature, a bonfire is actually different than a campfire.

The main difference involves two distinct factors......size and intended purpose.  To learn more lets look closely at each individual fire. 

Building A Campfire

A campfire is basically a small fire which is lit for an intended purpose like heating, cooking, to deter insects or to provide light and a sense of security.

A campfire is usually constructed at a campground or picnic area where they are contained in a fire ring or fire pit.  They're enjoyable to sit around and use small sticks or small logs as fuel.


The most common type of campfire is the teepee fire.  To build one simply construct a pile of small tinder and kindling surrounded by larger sticks propped up against each other in the shape of a teepee. 

Since they're not very big, you can sit close to a campfire and still feel comfortable. There's enough heat to keep you warm but it's not intense.  

A campfire is also a great way to cook a small meal, roast hotdogs or make S'mores. As the fire burns down it leaves behind a small bed of hot coals.  These coals provide an excellent source of even heat for cooking a variety of different things.

Building A Bonfire

A bonfire is much bigger than a campfire.  They're typically built for a celebration, large outdoor event, or used as a signaling device.  

While a bonfire is a controlled fire, the overall size makes the fire more hazardous than the smaller campfire.  Bonfires are built in open areas like fields or meadows and away from nearby trees or brush. 


It's fueled by larger items like wooden pallets, large logs, brush and sometimes even chairs and tables.

A bonfire is used as a focal point to a celebration where people enjoy it from a distance. The intense heat makes it difficult to sit by a bonfire which is why many people stand back and don't get very close.

Overall- Campfire vs Bonfire

Whether you're building a campfire or a bonfire, a simple fire (large or small) can bring entertainment to almost any outdoor event.

From graduation parties and reunions to small family gatherings, a fire creates warmth and a place that everyone is sure to enjoy.

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