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Things to consider when having an outside fire.

Updated: Apr 15

BBQ's and open fires in the garden or when we are camping or at the beach can create great memories and are loved by many people. There are however a few things to consider before you put a match to that firelighter.


Garden fire pit with my Dad enjoying the warmth from a safe distance

Choosing your location

Lighting fires or enjoying a BBQ in the British countryside isn't always a great idea. There are lots of things to consider before you make any plans. Really, the best place is in your own garden. Here are some pointers about choosing your location.


Beach BBQ's and fires are popular, but many beaches don't actually allow them. You'll need permission from the landowner, usually this is the local council, so check their websites.



The same applies for parks, woodlands and National Parks. Making campfires when wild camping is not acceptable.

Woodland sign stating no fires or camping
Photo credit: Jamie Rooke @ukmountaindays

You will often see signs like this one that state you cannot light fires. It's not to ruin peoples fun, but for very good reasons.


Many campsites allow open fires and BBQ's and usually have rules to follow. There are often dedicated firepit areas or they provide bricks to raise BBQ's off the ground.


Even when you have established that you can go ahead, consider these points when choosing your spot.


  1. Are there grasses, trees or fencing nearby which may be at risk of catching light?

  2. Are the conditions likely to increase the risk of the fire spreading. When it has been very dry, even a spark catching in the wind can start new, unwanted fires?

  3. Is it near anything plastic which my melt such as a wheelie bin?

Preparing your fire /BBQ

The remains of a fire that has destroyed the grass and flowers in that area
Photo credit : Jamie Rooke @ukmountaindays
  • Avoid disposable BBQ's as they can't be reused or recycled so end up in landfill.

  • Use an eco friendly fire lighter like our beeswax infused cotton strips rather than chemical firelighters.

  • Take your own sustainably sourced wood. DO NOT remove wood from living trees and even dead wood you find on the ground is an important habitat for wildlife so should be left where it is.

  • For BBQ's use untreated charcoal which is FSC British certified. 'Easy to light' charcoal has been soaked with chemicals and can't be added to your garden or compost.



A dutch oven over a firepit on a campsite
A designated firepit on a campsite in Wales

  • If you are in an area that allows beach fires, don't use rocks from low down on the beach as your fire surround. The water in the rocks will cause them to explode when heated.

  • Make sure BBQ's are raised off the ground or use a fire pit. This prevents ugly scarring of the grass but also protects the flora and fauna.





Lighting and using your fire


  • Have a bucket or water or sand on standby and supervise from a safe distance at all times. Keep children away from the fire.

  • Keep your fire as small as possible so you can keep it under control.

  • Don't add fire accelerants, a well prepared fire/BBQ with a well placed eco friendly firelighter will be sufficient.

  • Leave a tail of the firelighter exposed to allow you to light it safely with a match or lighter.

  • DO NOT use your lighter upside down.

  • Fatty foods can cause flare ups so be prepared for this.



How to dispose of the remnants safely

The ashes from a fire or BBQ can stay hot and potentially cause burns or relight for up to 5 days. So how you dispose of them is extremely important. A BBQ or firepit in your own garden is the easiest and safest option. When you are finished, follow these simple steps.

  1. Let the fire die out or douse it with water or sand. If possible cover it with a lid with the vents closed.

  2. Leave it for at least a couple of days and then rake through the ashes to ensure there are no embers left.

  3. If you want to use the firepit/BBQ again before this time, transfer the coals or ashes to a metal bucket with a trowel.

  4. If the ash is all from wood rather than coal, you can add it to your garden on plants that will benefit from potash. Or place it in the compost. Otherwise, put it in the black bin when it is 100% cool.

If you aren't at home, safe disposal is equally, if not more important. You won't be able to wait a few days for the embers to completely cool so come prepared. Here is some advice.


DO NOT

  1. Place disposable BBQ's in waste bins because of the very real risk of a bin fire.

  2. Bury ashes or coals in the sand. even if you douse them with water there is a significant risk of them staying hot enough to cause serious burns to peoples feet.

  3. Assume someone else will clear up after you.

DO

  1. Use fire proof bins where available. Some beaches have installed these, check your local councils website for more information.

  2. Take a metal bucket and take your ashes home with you.

  3. Take ALL your waste home with you. Leave no trace.

Now all the serious stuff is out of the way, enjoy your BBQ's and fires and if you want to make the swap from chemical firelighters to a more eco friendly version have a look at our easy to use and extremely effective beeswax infused strips.