There are a lot of different ways to start a fire if you find yourself in a situation where you need one. What I’m talking about here is survival fires. You find yourself in a survival situation and you need a fire to keep yourself warm, dry out your clothes, or cook something tasty to eat.
Let me first say this. You know if you are not old enough to do this without adult supervision. So just don’t do it without adult supervision if you aren’t old enough to do it by yourself. You could get yourself into a lot of trouble and either hurt yourself or others or destroy a lot of property. Fire is a great tool if used properly but can be dangerous and destructive if you do not respect it.
The time to learn how to start a fire is not when you are in a survival situation. You need to practice this skill to get good at it.
Tip#1 for starting a survival fire – No matter what type of fire-starting method you use, you will need tinder and small twigs to begin with, so go ahead and gather it now. Tinder is any light weight combustible material that will easily light. Straws, dry grasses, and stringy type tree bark work well. Sometimes I take lint from my dryer and place it in a small Ziploc bag, then put it in my pants pocket when I plan to go to the woods. Dryer lint makes a great fire starter.
You should use wood that is finger sized in diameter for your starting wood. Be sure to go ahead and gather a few slightly larger pieces of wood also. After going through a lot of effort to start your fire, you don’t want to let it go out because you weren’t prepared.
Clear leaves and other debris from around your fire area to prevent the accidental spread of your fire into an area where you don’t want it. If this is a practice survival fire or a campfire, be sure to have plenty of water available to be used to put out the fire. This way if your fire begins to get out of hand, you can quickly put it out. Do not attempt to start a fire when the woods are extremely dry or on a windy day.
Tip#2 Always carry a good disposable cigarette lighter with you when you go to the woods. There is no need to try and be a hero. I usually have two or more cigarette lighters in my pocket when I go into the woods. They are light weight, don’t take up much room, and usually work great.
Tip#3 If you have a flashlight with you, use the batteries to start a fire. It will help if you have 00 steel wool. You can buy it at the hardware store. Steel wool is made of thousands of tiny metal fibers. These fibers are so small, that the electricity from a flashlight battery will quickly cause them to glow orange. Add some steel wool to your survival kit or pocket as a back-up. Practice this method in case for some reason your lighters don’t work.
Tip#4 You can purchase flint and steel from a number of sources. Practice striking the flint and steel together to send a spark into your tinder. This will take some practice. You never know when you may be in a situation where you have access to a piece of steel in a survival situation. You may be able to strike your steel against rock. Practicing will prepare you for this situation. I do not recommend using your knife for this purpose. Your knife is too valuable to you in a survival situation, and usually doesn’t make that good of a fire starter anyhow. Don’t damage your knife. If you absolutely have to try it, be sure to use the back of the knife blade and not the edge.
Tip#5 Try using a friction method. This is usually the first thing that comes to the mind of most people when they think of a survival fire. There are several friction methods. One of the most popular seems to be the fire bow. Basically for this method, you will use a shoe lace or other similar cordage to manufacture a tiny bow. You will also need a piece of wood for the drill and a fire board. I prefer to use scrub willow for my fire bow construction. This method looks easy, but it takes a lot of practice to get it right. It helps tremendously if you know someone who can teach you this method.
You will need to carve a notch in the edge of your fireboard. When you drill, material from your fireboard and drill will build up in the notch and form a coal. You will then need to transfer that hot coal to your tinder. A good way to do this is to have your tinder underneath the notch on your fireboard to begin with. You will carefully wrap the tinder around your hot coal and gently blow on it. This adds a lot of oxygen for fuel. As you continue to blow on your tinder, it will begin to smoke. Once it lights, you will want to place your tinder underneath some of your small twigs which should be set up in a small tee pee type formation. Of course, your twigs will now begin to catch on fire. As you manage your small fire, you will gradually add more and larger pieces of wood.
There are a multitude of methods you can use for starting a survival fire. Pick one and begin to study and practice it until you have mastered it. Then try another. You cannot be too prepared, and your friends will be impressed with your new skills and knowledge.