How To Build A Fire

When humans discovered how to make fire, everything changed for the better. We gained the ability to cook our food, keep warm, and use heat to produce more advanced tools and materials. But in our modern world we can easily exist without the need to ever use open flame. Still, no one brags about how they can’t build a fire. On the contrary – most people are embarrassed after a failed attempt, while their respective camping buddies mocking their measly efforts. Our advanced world sometimes leaves us in an ironic primitive state.

No matter what season it is, you should know how to build a fire fast and effectively. In the summer, you may be out camping, or in the back yard with some marshmallows. In colder months you may want to clean out the fireplace to get cozy with some added warmth. Either scenario can quickly become a catastrophe when plans of a solid blaze go awry.

Learn how to build a fire fast and proper. Stacking the fuel for a successful first light is key. This infographic will show you with some great illustrations. No more embarrassing efforts ending in a puff of smoke.

So don’t get caught without this easy knowledge. Fire building is easy! All you need are these six simple steps. Once you have the right materials, the most crucial step in the infographic below is step four: stacking the kindling. People will often suffocate the fire by not building a proper stack around the tinder. Following one of the four basic methods below, the key is to build it in such a way that the fire can grow by catching onto larger pieces of tinder, kindling, and fuel. By following these simple fire-building steps, you will never be caught fudging up the most satisfying job on the campsite or backyard hangout.


Source: Fix.com

How To Identify Dry Firewood

Using wet wood to get a fire going will leave you cold and frustrated…regardless of how much effort you put into it.

Even if you do get a fire going (which in a survival situation is better than nothing) your fire will be inefficient and will require much more maintenance to see it through the night.

The reason why it won’t burn is that the water contained in the wood is absorbing the heat, preventing the wood from absorbing enough heat to ignite.

As heat continues to be applied to the wood, the water turns to vapor, absorbing a huge quantity of heat in the process. It isn’t until this process is finished that the hydrocarbon gasses start leaving the wood so that they can then catch fire.

Basically your best bet is to make sure that you have the driest tinder, kindling, and fuel possible.

seasoned-firewood

It’s one thing if you have a cord of wood neatly stacked out in your woodshed, but how do you find dry wood in the wild?

Below are three quick tips you can use in a pinch:

The Snap Method:

The Premise: dry kindling is devoid of a high water content and will snap easily instead of bending.

How To do it: take your smaller bits of kindling no thicker than your thumb and grasp them at both ends.  Pull the ends towards the middle, the kindling should snap in the middle.

What to look for:  twigs, sticks, and other kindling that snaps cleanly and easily is an indicator of dry kindling.How do you know if your fuel is dry?

The Percussion Method:

The Premise: as wood dries out, its acoustical properties change.

How to do it: grab two sample pieces of wood at one end and let them dangle, one from each hand. Swing the bottom ends together, and listen to the sound at impact.

What to look for: dry wood will “ring” or “bonk” when they hit each other. Wet wood, however, will issue a dull thud on impact.

Cracking the code:

The Premise: as fuel wood pieces dry, the wood fiber shrinks, which causes visible radius cracks to open up on the ends of the wood.

How to do it: examine the ends of a sample piece, looking for cracks that radiate from the core to the bark.

What to look for: big, deep radius cracks are a good indicator of well-seasoned wood.

Note: this is the least reliable indicator, as the cracks won’t close back up if the seasoned wood is subsequently allowed to re-absorb rainwater.

via Three Quick Tips To Identify Dry Firewood 

HOW TO MAKE: PINE CONE FIRE STARTERS

“You can totally make these”.

Let’s get started, You’ll need:
  • 24 or so Pine Cones
  • 2 lbs Wax (I used soy)
  • Candle twine
  • A Scent (Optional)
  • A cupcake pan
  • Baking cup liners – A MUST
 

(Ignore the Crisco in the photo, tried greasing instead of the liners the first it was a FAIL)

First, I cut 24 – 8 inch strips of my candle twine. Then I wrapped it around the bottom of each pinecone, like so (see image below). Leaving about 2 inches pulled towards the top for “lighting purposes”.
Then in a mason jar (or really any vessel you don’t mind being covered in wax) heat up your wax.  It took me a 3 ‘jar and wax’ melts to have enough wax for all of my pinecones. I’m sure I could have used a larger container but my wine kept me occupied. Ahem.
Once the wax is melted, pour yourself another glass of wine and add a scent if you’d like smelly pinecones (I used the recomended dose on the bottle). I made sure it was mixed then I poured the wax into the cupcake liners about half way full placing one pine cone in each slot immediately after.
Now here’s the hard part, you have to walk way.
I know it’s hard but trust me, it’s better for everyone. Leave them alone for about two hours before poking to prevent the wax from getting all jacked up. After they are completely cooled you can peel them out of their liners, or just bag them up as is.
With the batch of 24 I had enough to wrap up 5 bags full for gifts and have a dozen or so for Mr. A and I to use here at home.
And here’s Mr. A’s proof that they work (ie: light).
Will you try them?

 

 

[source]

 

Unique Improvised Grills – Ideas For Cooking In A Survival Situation

 

By Dian Thomas

 

A few weeks ago, I got a call to give a presentation on preparedness. My approach was not to focus on preparing for a rainy day, but to get out and have a great time learning outdoor cooking and camping skills. Then when the rainy day comes, your skills are up to speed.One of the key places to practice your skills is in the backyard, a park, or in the woods. Decide to take the time now to enjoy your family and prepare them for their summer camps, outings and rainy days.

My parents were raised in the depression by pioneer parents. Creating and improvising was the norm. I grew up watching my mother and father make do with what we had instead of running to the store to buy the next item that was needed. A great by product of challenging times is that we have to look inward for solutions, instead of looking out. What a great skill to teach your children which will prepare them for whatever challenges come.

If you do not have a grill, here are some fun creative ways to use your ingenuity to make one. When you create using items you have, it shows you children it is possible to make do with what you have. What a great skill to develop.

Tin Can Grill

An improvised, inexpensive grill can be made in just a few minutes. This is a favorite of children at scouting and campfire cookouts. All that is needed is a #10-size can, tin snips, aluminum foil and a pair of safety gloves.

Beginning at the open end of the can, cut 2-inch-wide parallel slits down the side, to about 3 inches from the bottom, repeating around the can. Bend the strips away from the center of the can to form a low basket like container. Fill the bottom of the can with dirt. Cover the dirt and strips with heavy duty aluminum foil. You have now created an improvised tin can grill. Place the charcoal on top of the foil and lay the grilling rack on top of the metal strips. It is important to keep

the distance between the grilling rack and the charcoal at about 3 to 4 inches (Bend the strips to this distance.)

Bonus of this grill is that it can be discarded after one use, and replaced at very little cost. Individual stoves can be made by a group to involve more people in the fun.

A #10-size tin can will make an easy and economical grill.

Use tin snips to cut two-inch strips down the sides of the can

Line the tin can with heavy duty foil before adding charcoal

Add a rack, and you’re ready to grill

Unique Improvised Grills

If you don’t own a barbecue or if you are having a “dry run,” enjoying a day at the beach, visiting a picnic area, or camping in your backyard, you might be happy with a child’s wagon grill, a wheelbarrow grill, a metal garbage can lid, or even a terra-cotta flowerpot.

The wagon or the wheelbarrow might tote your supplies to your site. Adapting it for grilling is as easy as filling the base with 6 inches of gravel, sand or dirt to insulate the bottom from the heat. Cover the dirt with extra-heavy-duty aluminum foil, which prevents coals from sinking into the dirt and insures that air will circulate. On top of the foil in the center make a pyramid of charcoal briquettes.

Pour lighter fluid over the charcoal and light. Drape a pair of oven mitts over the wagon tongue or wheelbarrow handles so they’ll be close by when needed. When briquettes are burning, arrange bricks around the outside edge, adapting them for the gill or rotisserie. If you simply want to do stick cooking, omit the bricks. The most efficient height for grilling is 3 to 4 inches about the coals.

Dirt can be stored between uses by covering the wheelbarrow or wagon with an old plastic tablecloth with Velcro stitched to seal the corners. Moisture will rust out the bottom of the wagon or wheelbarrow if it gets wet.

 

Backpacker’s Grill

A backpacker’s rack can be purchased from a sporting goods store. To use the backpacker’s grill, place coals on the ground; the backpacker’s rack sits on legs about 4 to 8 inches above. If

the dirt is loose or sandy, assure uniform heat by placing a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil over the dirt to keep the briquettes from settling into the sand and causing the briquettes to lose heat.

The heat for the backpacker’s grill is very simple to regulate. To increase heat, simply push the rack toward the ground. To decrease heat, raise the rack farther from the coals.

 More survival cooking ideas…

9 Ways To Start a Fire Without Matches

Tom Hanks Starting a Fire Without Matches

There is a primal link between man and fire. Every man should know how to start one. A manly man knows how to start one without matches. It’s an essential survival skill. You never know when you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’ll need a fire, but you don’t have matches. Maybe your single engine plane goes down while you’re flying over the Alaskan wilderness, like the kid in Hatchet. Or perhaps you’re out camping and you lose your backpack in a tussle with a bear. It need not be something as dramatic at these situations-even extremely windy or wet conditions can render matches virtually uselessly. And whether or not you ever need to call upon these skills, it’s just damn cool to know you can start a fire, whenever and wherever you are.

 

Friction Based Fire Making

Friction based fire making is not for the faint of heart. It’s probably the most difficult of all the non-match based methods. There are different techniques you can use to make a fire with friction, but the most important aspect is the type of wood you use for the fire board and spindle.

The spindle is the stick you’ll use to spin in order to create the friction between it and the fireboard. If you create enough friction between the spindle and the fireboard, you can create an ember that can be used to create a fire. Cottonwood, juniper, aspen, willow, cedar, cypress, and walnut make the best fire board and spindle sets.

Before you can use wood to start a friction based fire, the wood must be bone dry. If the wood isn’t dry, you’ll have to dry it out first.

The Hand Drill

The hand drill method is the most primitive, the most primal, and the most difficult to do All you need is wood, tireless hands, and some gritty determination. Therefore, it’ll put more hair on your chest than any other method. Here’s how it’s done:

Build a tinder nest. Your tinder nest will be used to create the flame you get from the spark you’re about to create. Make a tinder nest out of anything that catches fire easily, like dry grass, leaves, and bark.

Make your notch. Cut a v-shaped notch into your fire board and make a small depression adjacent to it.

Place bark underneath the notch. The bark will be used to catch an ember from the friction between the spindle and fireboard.

Start spinning. Place the spindle into the depression on your fire board. Your spindle should be about 2 feet long for this to work properly. Maintain pressure on the board and start rolling the spindle between your hands, running them quickly down the spindle. Keep doing this until an ember is formed on the fireboard.

Start a fire! Once you see a glowing ember, tap the fire board to drop you ember onto the piece of bark. Transfer the bark to your nest of tinder. Gently blow on it to start your flame.

Fire Plough

Prepare your fireboard. Cut a groove in the fireboard. This will be your track for the spindle.

Rub! Take the tip of your spindle and place it in the groove of your fireboard. Start rubbing the tip of the spindle up and down the groove.

Start a fire. Have your tinder nest at the end of the fireboard, so that you’ll plow embers into as you’re rubbing. Once you catch one, blow the nest gently and get that fire going.

Bow Drill

Starting a fire with a bow drill

The bow drill is probably the most effective friction based method to use because it’s easier to maintain the speed and pressure you need to create enough friction to start a fire. In addition to the spindle and fireboard, you’ll also need a socket and a bow.

Get a socket The socket is used to put pressure on the other end of the spindle as you’re rotating it with the bow. The socket can be a stone or another piece of wood. If you use another piece of wood, try to find a harder piece than what you’re using for the spindle. Wood with sap and oil are good as it creates a lubricant between the spindle and the socket.

Make your bow. The bow should be about as long as your arm. Use a flexible piece of wood that has a slight curve. The string of the bow can be anything. A shoelace, rope, or strip of rawhide works great. Just find something that won’t break. String up your bow and you’re ready to go.

Prepare the fireboard. Cut a v-shaped notch and create a depression adjacent to it in the fireboard. Underneath the notch, place your tinder.

String up the spindle. Catch the spindle in a loop of the bow string. Place one end of the spindle in the fireboard and apply pressure on the other end with your socket.

Start sawing. Using your bow, start sawing back and forth. You’ve basically created a rudimentary mechanical drill. The spindle should be rotating quickly. Keep sawing until you create an ember.

Make you fire. Drop the ember into the tinder nest and blow on it gently. You got yourself a fire.

Flint and Steel

Flint and Steel

This is an old standby. It’s always a good idea to carry around a good flint and steel set with you on a camping trip. Matches can get wet and be become pretty much useless, but you can still get a spark from putting steel to a good piece of flint. Bear Grylls Fire-Starter is a good set to use.

 

If you’re caught without a flint and steel set, you can always improvise by using quartzite and the steel blade of your pocket knife (You are carrying your pocket knife, aren’t you?). You’ll also need char. Char is cloth that has been turned into charcoal. Char catches a spark and keeps it smoldering without bursting into flames. If you don’t’ have char, a piece of fungus or birch will do.

Grip the rock and char cloth. Take hold of the piece of rock between your thumb and forefinger. Make sure an edge is hanging out about 2 or 3 inches. Grasp the char between your thumb and the flint.

Strike! Grasp the back of the steel striker or use the back of your knife blade. Strike the steel against the flint several times. Sparks from the steel will fly off and land on the char cloth, causing a glow.

Start a fire. Fold up your char cloth into the tinder nest and gently blow on it to start a flame.

Lens Based Methods

Fire from a mangnifying glass

Photo by spacepleb

Using a lens to start a fire is an easy matchless method. Any boy who has melted green plastic army men with a magnifying glass will know how to do this. If you have by chance never melted green plastic army men, here’s how to do it.

Traditional Lenses

To create a fire, all you need is some sort of lens in order to focus sunlight on a specific spot. A magnifying glass, eyeglasses, or binocular lenses all work. If you add some water to the lens, you can intensify the beam. Angle the lens towards the sun in order to focus the beam into as small an area as possible. Put your tinder nest under this spot and you’ll soon have yourself a fire.

The only drawback to the lens based method is that it only works when you have sun. So if it’s night time or overcast, you won’t have any luck.

In addition to the typical lens method, there are three odd but effective lens based methods to start a fire as well.

Balloons and Condoms

By filling a balloon or condom with water, you can transform these ordinary objects into fire creating lenses.

Fill the condom or balloon with water and tie off the end. You’ll want to make it as spherical as possible. Don’t make the inflated balloon or condom too big or it will distort the sunlight’s focal point. Squeeze the balloon to find a shape that gives you a sharp circle of light. Try squeezing the condom in the middle to form two smaller lenses.

Condoms and balloons both have a shorter focal length than an ordinary lens. Hold them 1 to 2 inches from your tinder.

Fire from ice

Fire from ice isn’t just some dumb cliché used for high school prom themes. You can actually make fire from a piece of ice. All you need to do is form the ice into a lens shape and then use it as you would when starting a fire with any other lens. This method can be particularly handy for wintertime camping.

Get clear water. For this to work, the ice must be clear. If it’s cloudy or has other impurities, it’s not going to work. The best way to get a clear ice block is to fill up a bowl, cup, or a container made out of foil with clear lake or pond water or melted snow. Let it freeze until it forms ice. Your block should be about 2 inches thick for this to work.

Form your lens. Use your knife to shape the ice into a lens. Remember a lens shape is thicker in the middle and narrower near the edges.

Polish your lens. After you get the rough shape of a lens, finish the shaping of it by polishing it with your hands. The heat from your hands will melt the ice enough so you get a nice smooth surface.

Start a fire. Angle your ice lens towards the sun just as you would any other lens. Focus the light on your tinder nest and watch as you make a once stupid cliché come to life.

The Coke Can and Chocolate Bar

I saw this method in a YouTube video a while back ago and thought it was pretty damn cool. All you need is a soda can, a bar of chocolate, and a sunny day.

Polish the bottom of the soda can with the chocolate. Open up your bar of chocolate and start rubbing it on the bottom of the soda can. The chocolate acts as a polish and will make the bottom of the can shine like a mirror. If you don’t have chocolate with you, toothpaste also works.

Make your fire. After polishing the bottom of your can, what you have is essentially a parabolic mirror. Sunlight will reflect off the bottom of the can, forming a single focal point. It’s kind of like how a mirror telescope works.

Point the bottom of the can towards the sun. You’ll have created a highly focused ray of light aimed directly at your tinder. Place the tinder about an inch from the reflecting light’s focal point. In a few seconds you should have a flame.

While I can’t think of any time that I would be in the middle of nowhere with a can of Coke and chocolate bar, this method is still pretty cool.

Batteries and Steel Wool

Fire from steel wool and a battery

Like the chocolate and soda can method, it’s hard to imagine a situation where you won’t have matches, but you will have some batteries and some steel wool. But hey, you never know. And it’s quite easy and fun to try at home.

Stretch out the Steel Wool. You want it to be about 6 inches long and a ½ inch wide.

Rub the battery on the steel wool. Hold the steel wool in one hand and the battery in the other. Any battery will do, but 9 volt batteries work best. Rub the side of the battery with the “contacts” on the wool. The wool will begin to glow and burn. Gently blow on it.

Transfer the burning wool to your tinder nest. The wool’s flame will extinguish quickly, so don’t waste any time.

Sources:

Field and Stream

Primitive Ways

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