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Fire Starting For Survival

Posted by on 9/9/2011 to Fire Starting

The Benefits of Building a Fire:

  • Food and Water - A fire will cook food and sanitize water which will help prevent you from getting sick. Dehydration or food borne illness can kill in days.
  • Warmth - A fire provides a lot of heat. Hypothermia can kill in minutes. Remember, staying dry and out of the wind are important when trying to stay warm.
  • Light - A fire provides valuable light. Keep in mind that the wilderness can get dark very early due to a high horizon level from tall trees and possibly mountains.
  • Signalling - Multiple fires in a triangle is a universal distress call. A fire can also create smoke signals with the proper burning material.
  • Morale Boost - The accomplishment of creating a fire and reaping the benefits from one provides a strong mental boost and new glimmer of hope. This psychological achievemenill aid you in surviving by giving you the confidence you need.

Understanding How a Fire Starts:

A fire needs 3 things to ignite and stay lit.
  1. Heat
  2. Oxygen
  3. Fuel
Is is finding the perfect combination of these 3 necessities that will get your fire started and keep it going. The best way to learn the correct formula is personal experience using a method of trial and error

Selecting a Location and Preparing For Your Fire:

Things to consider before selecting your fire site.
  • What type of terrain or environment you are in.
  • What the purpose of your fire is.
  • What tools and materials you have available.
  • How much time you have to start a fire and how long will you need one.
Your fire location should encompass these features:
  • Protection from strong winds and waterflow.
  • Appropriate distance from shelter.
  • Pushes heat in desired direction.
  • Access to burning material to keep the fire going.
The 3 levels of Fire Building Materials:
When first starting your fire, it is important to have these 3 types of burning materials:
  1. Tinder - Small, easily burned, and very flammable material. Examples of fire tinder include:
    • Wood Shavings
    • Birch Bark
    • Straw
    • Dead Pine Needles and Dried Leavs
    • Clothing Lint
    • Cotton
    • Gunpowder
  2. Kindling - Small objects that burn longer than kindling but takes a little more time to light. Examples of fire kindling include:
    • Small sticks and twigs
    • Cardboard
    • Small split wood
  3. Fuel - Large objects that take a while to ignite but will last a long time. Examples of fire fuel include:
    • Wood
    • Peat or bog
    • Oil shale, charcoal, and coal
    • Animal fat and dried dung
    • Dried grass tied in bundles

How To Start a Fire:

Sparks, small flame, or intense heat ignite tinder. Tinder ignites kindling. Kindling ignites Fuel. This is the order of fire starting you need to know.
Build your fire pit and structure before attemping to start the flames. Different structure designs include:
  • Teepee
  • Lean-To
  • Cross Ditch
  • Pyramid
Different fire starting tools you can use to start a fire include the following:
  • Matches - One of the simplest methods, we recommend Storm Matches which are wind and waterproof.
  • Lighters - A lighter is basically the number one 'primary' fire starting tool. Like matches though, you should get wind and waterproof lighters.
  • Flint Strikers - The longest lasting and most fail-proof method of fire starting is a flint striker.
  • Magnesium Fire Starters - Just like a flint striker but better due to the built in tinder (magnesium shavings). Magnesium fire starters make excellent secondary fire starting tools.
  • Batteries - This only works for certain battiers (eg: car, 9 volt) But is very effective to due extreme heat.
  • Convex Lenses - Takes a lot of practice and skill to make use of a lens for startiing purposes. Must be convex because it concentrates light to a single point.
  • Fire Plow - The friction from a fire plow can ignite most tinder but is difficult to do.
  • Bow and Drill - A bow drill is hard to construct and implement but once you learn the ins and outs it becomes a very effective technique you can apply anywhere.

Additional Fire Starting Tips:

Blog Comments
riley Date 9/22/2011 3:45:00 AM
where can we get more details on some of the specific fire starting techniques you mentioned? Otherwise pretty interesting read...
Amy Date 1/31/2012 12:50:00 PM
I think you should break this article into more specific sections. I can barely start a fire with a ferro rod (flink striker) let alone with a couple sticks!
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