You never know when you’re going to find yourself in a situation where you need to start a fire on your own. You could be stranded in the woods or your car could break down and leave you stuck in the middle of nowhere. Whatever the reason, one thing is certain: unless you know how to start a fire, you’re in trouble!
In this discussion, we start with common and easy-to-find fuel for fires.
We then discuss various techniques and tools you can use to start a fire.
Common Types of Fire Fuels
1. Tinder – tinder is the top layer of small kindling that you use to spark your fire. You can find tinder almost anywhere, and the best time to collect it is when you’re out camping or hiking. Dry grass, pine needles, and tree bark are all excellent sources of tinder.
2. Kindling – The kindling feeds your fire and provides more fuel so that the fire will burn longer. Good kinds of wood for kindling include dead branches, dry twigs and sticks, aspen logs, pinecones, and acorns.
3. Fuel Wood – This is what gives energy to the fire and keeps it burning steadily. It should be cut into short pieces about an inch long and added to the fire in stages. Once most of the fuel has been added, you can remove some from your pile if needed to ensure that there’s enough heat and smoke from the log pile.
Green or wet woods like cedar, cypress, fir, pine, larch, oak, and walnut should never be used as they have too much moisture content which makes them difficult to ignite quickly enough. These types of wood should only be used after the fire has been going for at least one hour or if there is no other option available
Now, what are some simple tools or ways to make a fire?
Ferrocerium Fire Starter Rods
What are they?
To start, Ferrocerium is a complex pyrophoric alloy that is blended with iron or magnesium oxides.
When formed into a rod, you can strike them with a knife. When small pieces come off combined with oxygen, they ignite a small but useful spark.
Windproof Matches are the perfect tool for starting a fire in almost any condition. They will light when wet, and they work well even if you have no tinder or kindling. Plus, they don’t require any fuel. All you need is your hands! Be sure to stock up on these so you’ll always be ready.
The bow drill is often considered the earliest known man-made tool and is still in use today.
They come easily assembled in affordable kits you can purchase.
If you don’t have a kit, try this method:
- Find two pieces of wood that are about 5 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.
- One piece will be used as the drill shaft
- The other will be used as the hearthboard (the bottom piece with a small hole in it).
- The two pieces of wood should be perpendicular to each other with one end in each hand.
- To start drilling, place your foot on top of the lower piece of wood (the hearthboard) with your knee bent and your foot positioned so that you can put pressure down on it.
- With one end of the drill shaft in each hand, rub them together quickly back and forth until smoke starts coming out from under both ends.
*Please note, as you’ve probably seen many times on tv or in the movies…results may vary.
Aluminum Foil with Burning Lint from the Dryer
Just like it sounds, foil and lint.
Put some burning lint in a small pile on the foil and fold up the edges of the foil to keep the fire contained. Light it with a match or lighter. This will create heat and light, but don’t try cooking anything with it!
Fire Starter Lens
These can be purchased cheap and you can keep them in your wallet, a book, or pretty much anywhere in your preparedness kit.
If you don’t have a lens handy, “Old Reliable” (a magnifying glass) will do.
All you need is an object that will combust, like paper or leaves to add to your fire fuel.
First, place the object on the ground in direct sunlight and hold your lens over top of it so that you are focusing all of the sun’s rays onto one spot.
Battery and Steel Wool
The most common way of creating fire is friction. There are many ways to create this, but one of the simplest is with steel wool and battery.
First, get two pieces of steel wool about the size of your thumbnail.
Wrap one piece around the positive side of the battery, then wrap the other piece around the negative side, keeping them both tight together.
Rub them against each other as hard as possible until they’re both white hot and create sparks.
Fire or “Pyro” Putty
This is normally a non-toxic putty you can buy in a small can. Similar to just cotton balls and Vaseline, and depending on which product you buy, this material can burn in cold and windy environments. This putty is reliable for a quick, long-lasting flame.
Solar Spark Lighter
These are cheap, but Amazon has some good options.
You just insert kindling or something else that’s flammable in the top portion.
Sunlight is captured by the disc and it heats up the attached coil. The coil then sparks up the kindle or other flammable option and you have fire baby!
It seems that starting a fire can be either a) simple, but lengthy (the bow drill) or b) simple and quick (pyro putty).
There are a lot of items you can purchase very affordably that you should keep in your preparedness kit, and in places like your car, or bug-out bag.
Regardless of your method or tool, fire is essential when you’re trying to survive.
Do you have any other fire-starting tools or methods you want to add to this discussion? If so, comment below because the readers would love to learn more.
As always friends, stay prepared!