Building a fire is a skill that must be mastered. There is a difference in knowing how to build a fire with a lighter and charcoal lighter fluid, and knowing how to build a fire just before sundown when you’re lost in the woods.
Fire building skills have become a lost art. People have gone from sticks and stones, to matches, and finally to fancy electric lighters that can resist just about any wind.
Several years ago I witnessed a young man hold a match to a piece of oak firewood that was three inches in diameter, and then asked why the wood was not catching on fire. He had no understanding of fire building basics.
When someone is lost in the woods, that is no time to doubt your fire building skills.
1) Alcohol prep pads – These are the things that the nurse uses to clean your skin right before you get a shot. Their good for cleaning wounds and starting fires. The alcohol content allows the vapors to burn before the cloth of the pad to burn, so you might get a couple of minutes of burn time out of 1 pad. Their lightweight, easy to use, easy to light, and multi-purpose items.
2) Pencil and pencil sharpener – Not as easy to light as the alcohol prep pad, but will help you get a fir built. Use the pencil to write with, just as leaving notes at the truck before you head out on a hiking trip, and use the sharpener to get wood shavings to help build a fire.
3) Dip your matches – Even though a lot of people recommend dipping your matches in wax, I do not like doing that. The wax coating makes the match difficult to strike, and in some cases the match head might just snap off instead of lighting. Waterproof finger nail polish will give you a thin water proof coating that is easier to remove then wax.
4) Bow and Drill – Might take you a long time to build a fire, but if it was good enough for primitive man, its good enough for you.
5) Magnifying glass – May only work when the sun is out, but its good for looking at splinters. Being able to look at small splinters and start fires makes the magnifying glass a dual purpose item.
Comments – Post your comments in this forum thread about fire building tips.
Always remember the tinder you are using to start a fire has to be in relation to the size of the initial flame or spark. The smaller the initial flame or spark, the finer and dryer the tinder has to be.
For example, if someone is using a fire starter that makes a spark, you will need something as fine as dryer lint. If you have a larger heat source than a spark, such as a match, then small twigs will do.
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