Three Steps to Making Fire That Always Work
OutdoorHub Reporters 10.12.18
What holds value in today’s world? I ask you to really think this over. It would seem that everything has been exploited to the highest degree in our society. However, if you look back, way back, you find things have changed quite a bit in terms of value.
For what would you betray a God and steal from him? Is there anything so precious today? For what would you face a Gods rather. Well, what if you did it to avenge humanity and its poor treatment from the Gods upon high? Such was the case with Prometheus.
Prometheus stole fire from the Gods and brought it to humanity because of the poor treatment the Gods levied upon them. It was this move that made him both a hero and suffer some of the most vile torture ever enacted.
Because he brought fire to humanity Zeus chained him to a rock and each day an eagle would come down and eat a piece of his liver. The liver would grow back overnight and again the eagle would return to feast. Mythologically speaking he suffered all this for the value of fire.
The importance of fire is astounding. In survival there is no substitute. Anything that will warm you will do so with limits. There is also no other tool or natural process as effective as fire. Fire gives us clean water, heat, cooked food and It even allows you to manipulate metal!
So how do you master fire? What are the three steps to making fire that will always work? Once you shave down the speed bumps en route to fire you can make it happen in most situations. We are going to discuss these three steps in detail, so you understand what you need to practice.
Too Much Tinder
The start of any good fire relies on tinder. You can process a number of materials down to make tinder. The master list of natural tinder should look something like this.
- Dry Leaves
- Dry Grasses
- Dandelion Head or Clock
- Shaved Tree Bark
- Birch Bark
- Poplar Cotton
- Tinder Fungus
- Dry Pine Needles
- Cattail Leaves
- Cattail Fluff
There are more options than this, but all of these things will make great tinder. We are basically looking for dry and brittle materials that can be processed into fibrous tinder that can easily catch a spark.
If you want to be capable of fire in nearly all conditions, you are going to have to become a master of tinder and bring some quality tinder from home. The very best is tinder from the dryer. Every year you or your spouse, or both, throw away so much dryer lint its heartbreaking. If you shower sparks into a bunch of that tinder you will have a fire in seconds That stuff is priceless and should be packed in zip locks into all your bags.
A great tip is to create a Fire Bag and store all of your fire related items in a small pouch. This pouch should include your home tinder as well.
While it may sound like some sort of DIY craft project, the feather stick is actually a great little wood crafting practice that uses shaved wooden curls to maximize the surface area of a stick for starting fire. A feather stick is created by using a straight stick that can be held comfortably in your left hand.
You begin to shave the bark and inner bark of this stick off in thin layers. After a few layers you will be able to create thin curls all the way to the bottom of the stick. Do not cut the curls off. Leave them attached to the stick. Upon completion the feather stick should look like a stick with a bunch of thin wooden curls attached to the bottom.
Make about 20 or so of these feather sticks and use them in conjunction with your tinder. Once the tinder is lit, these sticks will go up fast and burn hot. Kindling over the feather sticks and you should be able to add fuel in no time.
A focus on preparation will assure you success in fire making.
The Fire Lay
The fire lay is a very simple fire base that gives you the ability to build fire over wet ground, cold ground or even snow covered ground. This is such an important skill to have because you will come across a situation where the ground around you or the conditions are just not conducive with a standard fire build. Your fire lay will make all the difference.
To build a fire lay you are simply going to lay down a row of sticks or split wood going in one direction, side by side. Usually about three to six is plenty. From there you are going to add another layer that is perpendicular to your first. Build this about three layers high. You can go higher and it will simply give you more wood to burn through. A nice tall fire lay can be a way to sustain fire for a long time without constantly fueling the blaze.
Build your fire on top of the fire lay just as you would any other fire. Use your tinder and use your feather sticks!
One of the biggest benefits of building a large fire lay is being able to burn it throughout the night without much assistance. The fire burns down through the fuel, keeping you warm while you sleep.
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Your overall goal with fire should be to make it as easy as possible. That’s the whole story. When you are lighting fire in decent conditions you want it to become like second nature. Use lighters, matches and whatever else you need. Just make fire quick and easy.
After you have done it this way for a long time, starting and sustaining a fire in rough conditions will become very simple. Creating a fire lay, using feather sticks and having plenty dry and fibrous tinder are just methods you need to build into your process, if they aren’t already.
Use them on dry summer nights when everything is going great and you will master them for when its cold and damp all around you. Nothing about fire is very complicated it just takes practice.