We tested the City Bonfires portable fire pit – Here’s our honest review

City Bonfires put a new twist on the traditional fire pit. The company, which started during the pandemic, makes a very popular and very portable fire pit. I had some doubts when I first saw the product advertised. It doesn’t resemble what you’d think of when you hear the words ‘fire pit’. But since we’re the fire pit experts, I had to give it a try. Here’s my review of the City Bonfires portable fire pit.

closeup of city bonfire with lid next to can

What is the City Bonfires portable fire pit?

The City Bonfires portable fire pit is a small metal canister that’s filled with soy wax and plant-based briquettes for lighting. It’s small, at about 4” diameter and 2” high. It only weighs about 1 pound. In many ways it’s closer to a candle than a traditional fire pit.

It does a lot of the same things a regular fire pit will do, just on a much smaller scale. You can take the City Bonfires fire pit just about anywhere. Put one on your patio table or take it camping and make some s’mores. Bring it to a picnic or to the beach. You get the idea, it’s portable.

How does it work?

The City Bonfires fire pit works almost like a candle. It’s filled with food grade soy wax and four briquettes that work like wicks. Just light it with a grill lighter and it’ll burn for hours. When you’re done using it, just blow it out or use the lid to extinguish the flame. It can be reused if there’s enough wax left.

Where to buy a City Bonfires Portable Fire Pit

The City Bonfires portable fire pit is available on Amazon or directly through City Bonfire’s website. You can also pick them up in some stores, like an outdoors store, hardware shop, or even grocery store. I picked up mine at the local Wegmans (a grocery store chain in the northeast).

Where to use it (and where not to use it)

As we mentioned, the fire pit is super portable. It can be used just about anywhere.  So it’s probably easier to say where it shouldn’t be used. The instructions are very clear that the fire pit should not be burned inside. Do not use this in any enclosed space like a camper, car, or tent.

Not for indoor use!

The outside does get very hot, so only use it on heat resistant surfaces. The instructions recommend using a trivet and not directly on furniture.

Testing out the fire pit

I picked up a City Bonfire portable fire pit and tested it out on a cool fall day. My initial thought when opening the box was that the product was well marketed and also well made. It was all small and light.

I used a standard grill torch lighter to light the fire pit (as the instructions recommend). There was only a slight breeze that day, but I was still surprised at how long it took to get all four charcoal briquette wicks lit. There were a few times I pulled the lighter away too soon and the briquette flame went out. I learned you have to hold the flame a few seconds longer than you might have expected to get them fully lit.  Overall it wasn’t a big deal.

I let it burn for about an hour during the day to test three things.

  1. Do the flames stay lit?  The answer to that is yes. It wasn’t super windy, but there was enough of a breeze to blow the frame around. All four briquette wicks stayed lit. 
  1. How much heat does it put off? Based on the size, I didn’t expect the fire pit to put off much heat, and I was right. Unless I held your hands right up to the fire pit, I didn’t feel any heat coming off. Again, I wasn’t surprised about that, because that’s not the purpose of this fire pit.
  2. How easy is it to extinguish? The fire pit comes with a metal lid.  So to put out the flames, all you need to do is put the lid back on. Just like with a candle (or any flame), cutting off the air supply will put the fire right out. This worked just as expected.  Be careful though – the lid gets hot as soon as you put it on the base.

Using the fire pit at night

After the daytime test, I waited a few hours until the sun went down and tried lighting the fire pit back up. 

What I learned from using the fire pit after dark:

  1. Re-lighting the fire pit takes even longer than lighting it for the first time.  
  2. The fire pit doesn’t put off a ton of light, but it’s enough to create a nice ambiance.  
  3. The fire pit burns for a long time. I left it burning for over four hours total, and there was still wax left. It’s advertised to burn for 3-5 hours, and it seems the higher end of that is accurate.

So while the fire pit can be used during the day, you’ll get more use out of it after dark.

Toasting marshmallows for s’mores

One of the advertised uses of the City Bonfires portable fire pit is toasting marshmallows.  Fortunately I was able to find some kids who were happy to test it out.  We found the City Bonfire fire pit was perfect for toasting marshmallows to golden brown perfection. Plus the candle uses food grade soy wax, so it’s safe for s’mores.

Pros and Cons

I’ll summarize what works and what doesn’t work with this fire pit.


  • Super portable
  • Cheapest fire pit on the market
  • Long burn time
  • Great for s‘mores
  • Made in the U.S.A.


  • Takes longer than expected to light
  • Doesn’t put off a lot of heat
  • Doesn’t provide a lot of light
  • Comparing to other fire pits

Comparing to other fire pits

The portable fire pit from City Bonfires doesn’t really compare to any fire pit I’ve ever seen. First of all, it’s much smaller than other fire pits. Secondly, it burns wax,  not wood or gas.  It’s probably closest to a small backpacking stove, like the Solo Stove Mesa (wood burning) or an MSR Pocket Rocket.  But really those put off more heat and are intended for cooking. What really sets apart the this fire pit from others, is that the City Bonfire is super portable and doesn’t require an outside fuel service (like wood or gas).

There are a few imitators that are competing with City Bonfires. Two notable competitors are WOEHOL and BSTFLEX. Both of those brands use soy wax and have the same advertised 3-5 hour burn time. There’s not much of a difference between the physical product. Your decision may come down to price, and whether you’d prefer an American made product from a small business, or a knockoff version.

The Verdict

If you’re looking for a compact, portable fire pit, then the City Bonfire fire pit might be for you. It’s perfect for lighting a small space, creating ambiance, or toasting marshmallows. It’s much less of a hassle than any other fire pit I’ve used. Just don’t expect this to put off the heat and light of a larger fire pit.

Bottom line, this fire pit is great for a front porch, small patio, deck, etc. It’s also super easy to take to a beach or campsite. For about $10-$15 each, you should definitely pick up one (or two!) for yourself.

About City Bonfires 

The City Bonfires story is pretty interesting. The company was started by Chris McCasland and Michael Opalski, two Maryland dads that were financially impacted by the pandemic in 2020. They were looking to create a new product, so they channeled their love of fire pit nights and invented the portable fire pit. 
In addition to the portable fire pit, City Bonfires also sells marshmallow sticks, a stand to convert the fire pit into a mini stove, s’more packages and more. Check out everything they have to offer.

Let us know about your experience with the City Bonfire portable fire pit in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

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