Bushcraft is the art of living in the wilderness using only natural resources. Making fire is one of the most essential skills in bushcraft, as it provides warmth, light, and a means to cook food and purify water. In this guide, we will explore different fire making techniques, tools, and tips for starting a fire in the wilderness.
Fire Making Techniques:
There are several methods for making a fire in the wilderness, including using a cigarette lighter, matches, a fire steel, and even natural materials like fire ploughs and bow drills. Each method has its own set of pros and cons, and it’s important to understand which method is best for a given situation. For example, a cigarette lighter is easy to use, matches have to be stored correctly and can be affected by wind and rain. A fire steel can be used in most weather condition, but requires a bit of practice to master.
Fire Basics The Fire Triangle.
Every fire needs three things, so remember the fire triangle.
1: Oxygen: In the outdoors, oxygen is plentiful, so if you’re in an open space like a forest, by a river etc and you can breathe, then your fire will be fine.
2: Fuel: Wood, fuel rods, fuel pellets, cordage, gas, petrol, alcohol etc – The fire just needs fuel.
3: A Spark or Heat: A spark from a fire steel, a lighter or matches.
A Fire Needs Fuel
Fuel for the fire is broken down into three categories. Tinder, kindling and larger pieces of wood.
Tinder is small, loose material that ignites quickly and burns fast.
Dry grass, leaves, shaved bark, dry pine needles, wood shavings, paper, steel wool, lint (from your tumble dryer), fat wood, pencil shavings (Pencil and pencil sharpener)
Is slightly larger and burns slower that tinder and plays an important role in getting the actual fire started so you can gradually add larger and larger pieces of wood to the flames without them going out.
Small sticks, twigs, branches, pine cones,
Larger Pieces Of Firewood
Due to the larger surface area of logs, it is harder for them to catch fire. Hence why we use tinder to start the fire, kindling to progress the fire before adding the larger chunks of wood to keep the fire well fueled over longer durations.
Fire Fuel Examples:
Larger branches, logs, you may have to forage to find wood, or use a saw or axe to prepare fallen trees.
A fire needs a spark
As mentioned, a fire needs to be lit. These are the most common pieces of fire starting kit.
Basics Of How To Start A Fire:
- Gather materials: Collect dry tinder, kindling, and larger logs.
- Prepare the fire bed: Clear a spot for the fire, and gather rocks to create a ring around the fire bed. The ring of rocks os to stop the fire from spreading, and give you a firm idea of the area you’re working within.
- Use a lighter, matches, or a fire steel to ignite the tinder.
- Gradually add kindling. Once you have flames, add larger logs to the fire, slowly.
- Blow on the fire to increase oxygen flow and keep it burning.
- Keep an eye on the fire and add fuel as needed.
To gather materials, you should look for dry leaves, twigs, and small branches, which are ideal for tinder. Kindling should be dry, thin branches and sticks, and logs should be dry and not to thick. In order to prepare the fire bed, you need to clear the area of any flammable materials and create a ring of rocks around the spot where you want to build your fire. This will help contain the fire, absorb heat (think storage heater) and also, possibly reflect heat back to the fire.
When using a lighter, you should place the tinder on top of the fire bed, and then use the lighter (firesteel, matches, etc) to light the tinder. With matches, you should use a windproof and waterproof container to protect the matches. And with fire steel, you should use a striker to create sparks and ignite the tinder.
Essential Fire Making Tools: A spark and fuel!
- A lighter
- Matches (in a waterproof container)
- Fire steel
- Striker (for fire steel)
- Knife, axe or multi-tool (for preparing tinder and kindling)
- Tinder (such as dry leaves, bark, steel wool, lint)
- Kindling (dry, thin branches and sticks)
- Logs (dry and thick)
- Rocks (for creating a ring around the fire bed)
When using a knife or multi-tool, you should use it to create shavings and curls of tinder, as well as to break down kindling and logs into smaller pieces. A fire lighter can be purchased at any shop (Amazon, Tesco, etc) and typically includes a small amount of flammable material that can be used to ignite the tinder.
Create Your Own Fire Starting Kit
Make your life easier with a fire starting kit. You can either make this up yourself or purchase ready-made kits. Having a kit means, no matter what, you are ready to get the fire started.
A kit should include something to create a spark (and a redundancy, just in case) and some tinder. Most importantly, your kit should be housed in a waterproof container be it a dry bag, dry box, or tin.
Different Kinds Of Bushcraft Fire To Try.
Teepee Fire, Pyramid Fire, Log Cabin Fire, Long Fire, Fire Hole, Swedish Fire, Signal Fire
Important Fire Safety Tips
Fire can be extremely dangerous to you and your surroundings. Always be careful and vigilant around fire. Make sure that if your cooking with fire to use fire retardant gloves, and after your finished with your fire be responsible and put out all remaining flames, and embers, remove the stone circle, use water to put the fire out and then burry the remains. Leave No Trace. The outdoors has lots of wildlife, dog walkers etc that could easily be injured by irresponsibly leaving a fire unattended after use.
Making Fire A Key Bushcraft Skill Conclusion:
In conclusion, fire making is a key skill in bushcraft and survival. By understanding different fire making techniques and tools, and following the steps outlined in this guide, you can start a fire in any weather condition and improve your overall wilderness survival skills. Remember to always practice safety when making a fire, and to continue learning and improving your skills through additional resources and practice.