Starting a Fire for Survival

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How to Start a Fire

Post by ThreeperMan on Wed 15 Jul 2009, 17:30

There are many different ways of lighting a fire. Some of these methods date back many generations amongst ancient tribes and although they can often take months, if not years, of painstaking practice to learn, by mastering them, it can give you an enormous sense of achievement and bring you much closer to nature. This article will touch upon these primitive techniques later. However, in a survival situation, you’ll want to get your fire started as quickly as possible and here are some useful tips.

Preparation
Before considering the ‘ignition’ element of the fire making process, you should always have prepared yourself initially. Therefore, you should have ensured that you have at least one, but preferably two, sources of fire igniting equipment contained within your emergency survival kit. Always ensure that you have collected your tinder, kindling and a good sized portion of your fuel before starting the fire off.

The tinder is the first material you’ll light and as it’s the most delicate, it’s better to light it upwind. To make things as easy as possible, you should either use a lighter or some matches. Dampness can affect lighters however and matches should be waterproof and also kept in a waterproof container. If these more modern day fire starters are the only fire starting tools you have, you should treat like them like ‘gold dust’ as you cannot be sure how long it will be before rescue reaches you, so try to work off the principle of ‘one fire, one match’. Alternatively, if you’ve a candle in your survival kit, this will cut down on the number of matches you use.

But, what if you don’t have matches or a lighter and have none of the primitive fire lighting skills? There are other ways of lighting fires, some of which require more skill than others. However, unlike starting a fire with a match or lighter where the flames are immediately visible, the following methods all rely on producing an initial smouldering and perhaps, a glow to the tinder before it suddenly bursts into flames. And whilst you may have seen many wilderness experts start a fire using these methods by cupping the tinder in their hands and blowing on it gently before it ignites, they have become very used to knowing when it’s about to ignite so that they can release it into the fire without burning their hands and face. They use the cupping method to keep the effects of wind and air to a minimum but, unless you’ve practised these methods, you need to be very careful that you don’t get burned. Placing the tinder between two sticks which you can use to hold it in place might be a safer option.

Using a Lens
As you are harnessing the powers of the sun, this method can only be used during daylight hours when it’s sunny and bright. Your lens might come from various items of equipment you might have brought with you – a camera, glasses, binoculars, a telescope or a magnifying glass. In fact, a magnifying glass in particular is a useful item to have in your survival kit. Whatever type of lens you use, you should angle the lens so that it concentrates the rays of the sun directly onto the tinder. Hold it over the same spot until you can see that the tinder is smouldering. Then you need to gently blow or fan the tinder until it bursts into flame at which point you can add it to the fire.

Using a Battery
Even a simple AA battery, in fact most types of batteries, can be used to light a fire. All you need is to attach a piece of wire or wire wool to each end of the battery and the touch the other ends of the wire together next to the tinder. This will create a spark which can be used to ignite your fire.

Primitive Methods
The easiest primitive method is a great skill to learn and is still commonly used today. It involves the use of steel on flint to create a spark and you can still buy these ‘metal matches’ in outdoor stores today although you can use any form of sharp-edged rock instead of flint.

In simple terms, it works exactly the same as a flint in a lighter works – by creating friction to create a spark. Carbon steel is better than stainless steel at producing a spark. However, it still requires some practice. You need to hold your steel and flint over the tinder and with a loose-wrist, strike the flint (or rock) in a firm flicking motion with the steel. When a spark catches the tinder correctly, it will ignite. Buying the correct flint and steel kit from your outdoor store is probably the best way to learn this skill and it’s a useful skill to learn should your lighter or matches fail to work.

Two other primitive methods of igniting a fire are the fire plow and bow and drill. They are both designed out of wood, which is why tribesmen found them so popular and work on the principles of friction, the fire plow working on the principle of rubbing a hardwood shaft into a groove in a softer wood base and the bow and drill, which requires far more effort both in crafting and using. This method involves twirling the drill back and forth with the bow faster and faster in a grinding motion until hot powder is produced which will be able to ignite the tinder. This article only touches upon these types of fire starting methods as, unless you know them already, you’re unlikely to have the time to design them and master their techniques in a survival situation. In fact, they can actually take a very long time to master fully.

The important thing about fire ignition is to remember to take 2 sources of ignition device with you in your survival kit and it can’t be emphasised enough, how important it could be to learn the flint and steel method so that you don’t rely on matches or a lighter which could get wet and be unusable.

Thanks to http://www.thesurvivalexpert.co.uk

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How to Build a Fire

Post by ThreeperMan on Wed 15 Jul 2009, 17:24

Once you’ve found or built your shelter, the next important task for you to accomplish is to build your fire. You’ll need to ensure that you locate it away from any trees where it could initiate a forest fire and it should be fairly close, but not too close, to your shelter so it can give you added warmth when you’re resting or sleeping. In constructing a fire, there are 4 components for you to consider – spark, tinder, kindling and fuel. The ‘spark’, which is the ‘ignition’ for your fire, is discussed in another article on this website entitled How to Start a Fire.

Choosing Tinder
Although it’s the kindling and fuel which will keep your fire burning successfully, if you don’t choose the appropriate tinder, your fire will not be successful in the first place. Tinder can consist of any materials you can find which ignites very easily in order for you to get the fire going. Tinder is probably the most important part of your fire so you should have a sufficient supply so that the fire won’t go out. Here are some examples of commonly-found materials that make excellent tinder:

* Birch bark
* Dry wood shavings
* Dead grass, dead moss, dead ferns
* Straw
* Dead pine needles or similar
* Sawdust

You can use a knife to make a powder-like tinder from dry sticks or other dry pieces of bark and if you happen to have any pieces of paper on you which you can shred with your knife or even any dry lint which may be contained in the pockets and seams of your clothes, this makes great tinder also.

Choosing Kindling
Kindling is the combustible material which you place on top of the tinder once it has started to burn. Like tinder, it should be completely dry to ensure rapid burning and should easily light when placed on top of the lit tinder. Suitable materials to use for kindling might include:

* Small twigs or small strips of wood
* Cardboard
* Pine tree knots containing resin

Choosing Fuel
Once the fire is established, it’s then time to add fuel in the form of larger pieces of wood to make it bigger and in order to it to keep it burning for longer. The materials you choose for fuel should be less combustible and should burn slowly but steadily and can consist of:

* Dry, standing wood and larger branches
* Insides of dead tree trunks as long as they’re dry
* Bunches of dried grass
* Dry peat often found near river banks
* Dried animal dung
* Coal

Different Fire Designs
As long as you follow the correct order of tinder, kindling and fuel and all the materials are appropriate and dry and you wait the sufficient time for the flame at each stage to catch alight, a fire doesn’t have to follow a specific shape or style. However, some of the more common designs are called tepee, lean-to, cross-ditch and pyramid.

A tepee fire is, naturally, formed in the shape of a tepee or cone from the tinder and kindling and is lit from the centre. As it gets bigger as you add the fuel, the wood or logs on the outside will fall inwards to keep adding fuel to the fire. It’s often a better design than others if some of your fuel is damp or wet.

With a lean-to design, insert a stick into the ground at an angle of about 30 degrees. Ensuring that one point is facing the direction of the wind, place some tinder underneath the stick. Lean pieces of kindling against the stick and light the tinder. As the kindling catches fire from the tinder, add more kindling then add fuel.

With a cross-ditch fire, use a knife or other sharp instrument to scratch an approximate 12 inches long, 3 inch deep ‘X’ in the ground. Place your tinder in the middle of the cross and build a pyramid of kindling above the tinder. The shallow ditch enables air to circulate under the tinder to provide a draught.

Pyramid fires are good as they burn downwards meaning that they need no attention overnight. To build one, you need to place two small logs or branches parallel to each other on the ground. Then get a small layer of logs and lay them across the base logs. Keep adding about 3 or 4 layers getting progressively smaller and each layer should be set at a right angle to the layer beneath it. Then create the starting fire with your tinder on the top. As that sets alight, it will then light the smallest layer of logs directly beneath it and then this process will continue with each layer beneath meaning the fire burns downwards instead of upwards.

As mentioned, there are no set specific designs you need to use. How you build your fire will be determined by the materials you have available, the location and immediate terrain you’ll find yourself in. What is important is that a fire will serve you well on a number of levels, providing you have the correct make up of tinder, kindling and fuel that is dry and that you don’t smother the fire with fuel too quickly, which is one of the major causes of fires failing.

Thanks to http://www.thesurvivalexpert.co.uk

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Starting a Fire for Survival

Post by wannabemountainman on Mon 13 Jul 2009, 05:24

Fire is one of the most basic skills to have, yet it is quite amazing how many people can't start a fire without dry wood and fuel at hand. I won't go into minute detail on this subject, as there are plenty of sites out there that already do. This site is made primarily for those who already have some modicum of outdoor skills. Fire is a skill that should be practiced by anyone who spends time away from civilization. Anyone can practice making fire in their backyard. Fire is the means to warmth, water purification, cooking food, and a general sense of well being. The following tips will help you to start fires in less than ideal conditions with limited tools (I practice with flint and steel, but prefer a lighter when available).

Rule number one for a fire is similar to that for shelter... LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!!! Find a place that is out of the wind and elements, that has ample fuel at hand, and that doesn't cause a hazard. It's hard enough surviving in a forest, it's even harder trying to survive in a forest fire! The more you do in preparation before ever striking a match, the easier it will be to start and maintain a fire. A large boulder is usually a prime place to build a fire. Besides acting as a wind break, it will also reflect warmth back at you, and will keep the smoke flowing up the side of the rock face, and out of your eyes.

Make your fire as small as possible... you'll use less wood, and therefore less energy. If you're using the fire as a signal, you can still keep it small, yet have a large pile of dry material ready to throw on at a moment's notice.

To build a typical campfire, you'll need three types of fuel . These are Tinder, kindling, and logs. The first rule of fire making is to always have twice as much of each as you think you'll need. Have these ready before you ever strike a match. Whereas the logs and kindling are typically just little sticks and big sticks arranged in a nice tepee or log cabin arrangement, I will not waste time comparing the burn rates of different types, etc. In a survival situation, the hard part is getting the first flame to take to your tinder. Once you have a nice little pile of tinder material burning, it's relatively easy to get the rest of the fire going, so I will not waste time explaining it. I will focus on some tinder sources and tips.

Know your tinder sources! There are a multitude of mosses, grasses, and other thin and fibery materials that can be easily ignited. A key to these is that they need to be dry. When walking along in the woods, I collect wispy looking materials, and put them in my shirt pocket (body heat dries them out in a hurry). Some other great tinder that will light in just about any conditions are as follows

* Cat-o-Nine Tails. The large bulb at the top of this plant has enough "fluff" to start a LOT of fires.
* The large, black, lumpy growths on the sides of birch trees is a type of fungus that burns VERY well. Lop or break off a clump. It is orange to brownish on the inside. This can be ignited with a spark and forms a very nice coal. This material can also be used to carry fire from place to place. This stuff may be orange, but it's gold to me!
* Low lying, gnarly pine shrubs and trees (common in sandy soils) build up amazing amounts of sap. The wood becomes infused with it and is VERY flammable. Dead branches on these fill with sap to seal them off (also makes them waterproof). Use these. A small piece can be used to start many fires. Shavings from this type of wood will ignite with nothing but a good spark. A little goes a long way. If you find a piece of this, chalk it amongst your assets, and find a pocket for it.
* Pocket Lint... No Kidding... if you knew how flammable this stuff really was, you'd be carrying a fire extinguisher around with you. It only takes a spark. Once I learned this, I became fanatical about cleaning the lint screen in my dryer !!

Copyright M4040

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