Free Tips & Easy "How to" Instructions
Knowing how to build a fire is essential to any outdoors man or woman. In this article we are mainly going to discuss the fire building components and their importance. We are not going to go into depth on the different methods but we will mention them and their basic methodology. The purpose is to provide you with the knowledge on the construction of a fire so that when you need or want to build a fire you can do so with quickly and effortlessly.
The first and one of the most important components for building a fire is the tool that will be causing the spark or generating the heat. There are a multitude of methods ranging from "rubbing two sticks together" to butane lighters.
The "Bow Drill" method would be one with which heat is generated by spinning a hard wood "Drill" or stick on a soft wood plank. The spinning grinds the soft wood plank creating a fine dust which is heated and chard by the friction. At one point the dust, or tinder as it is better known, will begin to glow and smoke. The ember should then be placed in some kindling, thin dry wood, grass, shave bark, etc., and blown upon until the kindling catches flame.
The same principle holds true for the "Hand Drill" method, which is almost exactly the same as the bow drill, except the hands are used instead of the bow and the drill is longer.
The "Fire Plough" method is similar in the sense that you again have a hard wood drill, except in this case it is called a plough, and a soft wood plank, or hearth. Instead of spinning the drill you slide the plough backwards and forwards in a groove cut down the center of the hearth. The "Ploughing" motion creates the tinder and the heat by friction.
The last method we will mention is the "Flint & Steel" method. This method is quite different from the previously mentioned methods in that you will create a spark to catch fire to your tinder. Also, when using the flint and steel method your tinder is not automatically created, instead you must find it, or carry it with you.
The single most important thing in building a fire is responsibility. Responsibility in making sure that when you leave, everything looks almost exactly how it looked before you arrived. If it is a windy day make sure you build your fire pit so that no coals or sparks can be blown from the fire and start a much larger and uncontrollable fire. Be absolutely positive that your fire and all the smoldering coals are extinguished before leaving, and NEVER leave a fire unattended.
First things first, take into consideration the wind when setting up your camp so that smoke and sparks are blown away from your tents and gear. Don't build your fire place too near your tents and equipment. Clean away all leaves, small branches, moss from the ground in a fairly large radius from where your fire will be built. Not only does this prevent accidental fires from being started outside of the "controlled fire area", but it also helps secure a perimeter from those little creepy things that might be looking for a warm place to cuddle up. Removing all debris down to the dirt would be the best possible situation to produce.
Now you need to collect your tinder, kindling, and wood. If you plan on doing some cooking around the fire it might not be a bad idea to find some stones with which to enclose your fire. This helps create a deep bed of coals which is the best thing to cook over. Your tinder should be something light, very dry, and fine so that it will start burning easily. Your kindling will consist of materials slightly heavier than your tinder. It could be long dry grass, dry leaves, very thin twigs. Next you will want to gather small to medium quantities of slightly increasingly larger dry sticks, soft wood would be the best. You only need small to medium quantities because after your fire is started and you move up to larger pieces of wood, you will have a fine bed of coals which will easily ignite larger pieces of wood with a little fanning.
First prepare things within reach of where you will be starting your fire. Not too close that you windup stepping on things or jabbing a stick into your knee but close enough so that you can access it quickly. Your kindling should be in a loosely packed ball or disk. Depending on the method you will use to start your tinder burning. Once your tinder is burning / smoldering place it within your kindling and blow on it to make it burn brighter and hotter. Your tinder will eventually cause your kindling to burst into flames, in which case you should place your kindling in the fireplace and place the thin dry twigs loosely on top of the kindling so that the flames of the kindling catch the smaller twigs on fire. As each new level of thicker wood catches on fire, and the next until you have a nice fire burning.
While the flames are the most beautiful part of a fire and possibly that beauty contributes quite a bit to a fire's warmth, the fire's coals are actually the warmest part of a fire. Even though starting your fire is easier with a soft wood because the grain of the wood contains more air, a hard wood is better to burn in the fire. Since hard woods' grain is closer containing less air it burns longer, and therefore producing more coals that last longer, which in turn causes your fire to produce more heat with less wood used.
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