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Because the Easter Vigil begins in darkness, one of the most powerful symbols is the lighting of a new fire.

You will need to assemble the following items for the new fire:

A small sturdy table — the top needs to be protected: a breadboard will work

A heavy (preferably cast iron) 11” frying pan (we used the top of a pottery bird bath, which happened to be shaped like a shell and was larger than the fry pan)

About 2½ pounds of coarse Kosher salt

2½ pints of Rubbing Alcohol

A pinch of incense (optional, but adds color to the flame and scent to the air)

Heavy aluminum foil

A taper for lighting the fire

A large pot lid big enough to cover the frying pan if the fire gets out of control and needs to be extinguished

A pair of heavy work gloves for safety

Preparing the Fire

Set the table where there will be plenty of open, overhead clearance and away from smoke and fire detectors.

Line the container with heavy foil, leaving plenty around the edges to turn up just before you light the fire

Place the lined container on the protected table top

Fill about ²/3 full with the coarse salt, mounding slightly toward the middle (the salt should only be about ½ way up the sides at the edge)

Fold the foil used to line the pan tightly down over the sides, and cut another piece of foil a little larger than the diameter of the frying pan for the next step

45 minutes before you need the fire, pour ½ of the rubbing alcohol over the salt and cover with the foil; crimp tightly so the alcohol will not evaporate

15-20 minutes before the fire is to be lit, repeat the previous step

Just before the fire is needed, remove the foil cover and add the pinch of incense if desired

Fold the edges of the foil pan liner up around the outside of the pan to look like tongues of flames (this will also keep the alcohol from creeping over the edge of the pan

Light the fire

by Pat Crane



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