Bonfire Vs Campfire : Are They Same? What Are The Differences?

Ever wondered what is a bonfire or a campfire? Are both the same? Are there any size differences between a bonfire and a campfire?

If yes, you are at the right place. It is a common thing that many people mistake both campfires and bonfires as the same as both involve wood-ignited fires.

So, here’s a fun fact for you. Both campfires and bonfires are identical, but in reality, both are different. How? Continue reading to find answers to all your queries regarding bonfires and campfires.

Bonfire vs. campfire: What’s the main difference?

You may use the terms bonfire and campfires interchangeably, but they are not the same in most senses.

The main differences between a bonfire and a campfire involve the size of both and the function to serve. In brief, a campfire, as the name contains, is a sort of fire usually confined to small pits for purposes like cooking, heating, or entertainment.

You’ll mostly find campfires near campsites.

On the other hand, a bonfire is a sort of fire in much greater size and generally used for signaling the safety teams, events (or functions), or celebrations. You can find bonfires everywhere.

What is a campfire?

Simply put, a campfire is a small size outdoor fire for functions like providing warmth, cooking, and entertainment.

In dense forests, a campfire is also a means of signaling the forest officials for help or threat, shoo away bugs/mosquitoes/insects, etc.

In modern times, a campfire is a cool place for chatting, dancing, singing, etc., with family or friends.

You may think that a campfire is a 21st-century concept, but record-wise, the concept of campfires got light more than 1.6 million years ago. At that time, humans used campfires for cooking purposes. 

How is a campfire made?

Though campfires occupy a small area, taking note of the safety features is a must.

According to the experts, you should set a campfire in its designated fire pit or fire ring and set it away from bushes or trees or your tent, most importantly.

If you’re camping in a decent place, you will get a pre-built fire pit/ring. However, it’s not difficult to create one. 

The necessary steps to prepare the fire ring or pit for a campfire involves:

  • Choosing a small space away from trees, bushes, tents, etc.
  • Gathering the rocks to surround the fire space, so it doesn’t spread through the wind.
  • Digging a 6-inches wide and 2ft deep hole in the center of the fire ring or pit.
  • Lastly, clear the area outside the ring or pit for any debris or explosive substance.

Now, after preparing the campfire ring or pit, it’s time to build the campfire. It’s not mandatory to use expensive and processed wood pieces for a campfire.

Instead, you can use small sticks, twigs, or any other thing like a piece of cardboard or wood shavings.

For the ignition, you can do so by using tinder, kindling, or principal wood. Out of these, tinder is similar to kindling.

Make sure that the tinder usually has some moisture content in it. So, dry it before burning. Kindling consists of sticks, twigs, cardboard pieces, etc. Last, wood that includes big logs of wood or trees.

To ignite the campfire, below are some necessary steps.

  • Use match sticks or a lighter as the fire source. Lighter is a better option as it’s quick. 
  • Spread the kindling around the fire pit or ring.
  • Now, add more significant wood pieces in the teepee manner.

For safety purposes, you should extinguish the campfire before heading to sleep. Undoing this can give rise to forest fires, etc.

Also, ensure that the fire pit is cool enough to touch before saying, “the campfire is completely off”. Now, you can go to your sleep.

When can you use a campfire?

Since a campfire is smaller in size, in dense forests, a campfire is also a means of signaling the forest officials or team members for help or threat, shoo away bugs/mosquitoes/insects, etc.

A campfire is a cool place for chatting, dancing, singing, etc., with family or friends in modern times.

What is a bonfire?

Contrary to a campfire, a bonfire is any controlled fire in a much bigger space. Due to its bigger size, a bonfire is much more dangerous and challenging to douse off in severe cases.

A bonfire got its name from “bone fire,” i.e., burning piles of bones to fend off the evil spirits.

In terms of functions, you will generally use a bonfire for signaling purposes, events, celebrations, etc.

It is a common tradition in different parts of the world. For example, to signify an event as a social event, a bonfire is put into use.

How is a bonfire made?

Taking the size factor out, the process of setting a bonfire is similar to that of a campfire.

The necessary steps to prepare a bonfire involves:

  • Choosing enough space away from trees, bushes, tents, etc.
  • Gathering big rocks to surround the fire space so that the bonfire doesn’t spread through the wind.
  • Lastly, clearing the area outside the ring or pit for any debris or inflammable substance could catch fire.

If required, dig a pit containing the extent of the bonfire and prevent it from spreading.

Like campfires, you can use kindling or similar items to start the bonfire, but to keep it running, you will need big wood pieces. If you set a bonfire in an open space, check out the rules and restrictions for the same. 

As a precautionary measure, never leave the bonfire place unattended. Keep a fire extinguisher aside in-use position.

Also, since a bonfire is for burning trash, signaling the forest or rescue officers, events, etc., you should never leave the safety measures out of condition.

When can you use a bonfire?

A bonfire is entirely a different concept. It is always in bigger and open spaces like your backyard, forest, etc.

Due to this, it’s typical for the signaling purpose, celebrations on a large scale, burning trash, etc.

Due to its size, it’s always an excellent choice to obtain the concerned authorities’ necessary permission before igniting the bonfire.

Another common way of using a bonfire is that a bonfire represents specific attributes, unlike a campfire.


Even though both bonfires and campfires are the two wellsprings of fire, they are different regarding their size and capacity to function.

While one is common to find in festivals and customs, the other is a common means to discard waste or rubbish. 

A bonfire is a lot bigger than campfires and ought to set up in an open space a long way from trees, buildings, or some other combustible materials.

They regularly require licenses, and it tends to be unlawful to start them without one.

On the other hand, campfires are typically a lot more modest, and they find uses in providing warmth and methods for cooking for individuals who are enjoying under the lap of nature.

You should ignite a campfire, keeping in mind all the necessary safety measures, and remember to douse it off before leaving the site altogether.

Numerous rapidly spreading fires result from a pit fire left seething or coals blowing and getting close by brush ablaze.

Lastly, both campfires and bonfires originated millions of years ago and, since the start of time, find uses in cooking, warmth, light, and festivities.

Hence, they are an indispensable piece of life today, and they are superb as long as safety is the main guideline you follow.