Fire Starting

Jan 9, 2017

Fire Starting: Proper Methods for Starting Fires

Part 1 of 2: Basic Steps + Creating your Bow and Drill


Well, there are actually two main categories that fires fall into: fires for cooking and fires for signalling and warmth. However, the steps for starting each type of fire are identical. Prepare your lay (the spot your fire will be, common examples would be a fire pit or hole)

-          Gathering the appropriate fuel for your fire (kindling, tinder and logs if available)

-          Building the Fire and Tending to your Fire

-          Properly Extinguishing your Fire

Preparing a fire pit is a simple task that you can easily accomplish with the right knowledge. Start by clearing the surrounding area of dry brush, branches or any other burnable material, then once your area is clear you can start to dig out your pit. Don’t make your pit too large, depth is more important than width! You need to be able to control your fire and large, uncontrolled fires are a major hazard in the wilderness.

After you have finished digging your pit you can begin to gather the fuel you will need to both start and maintain your fire. Taking the extra time to gather the correct fuel will save you time and frustration. Work smarter, not harder!

Do you have a way to actually light your fire? Proper preparation for wilderness survival is always good and often you will have matches or a lighter, but what if you do not? A bow and drill is the classic method for igniting your fire. To craft the bow you will need a strong, preferably green stick or small branch about as thick as a quarter and one to two feet in length. Tie a string from one end of the bow to the other and make it tight with no slack! Now we need our drill.

The drill should be a strong, straight hardwood stick about as thick as a nickel. If it is slightly larger that is okay and it needs to be about a foot in length. Taper the top end of the drill to a blunted point; this reduces friction when drilling, and then round off the other end of the drill (the non-blunted end). Find a small piece of wood with a depression in it; you will use this to apply downward pressure on the rounded end of your drill while drilling. We just need a fire board now!

The fire board should be soft and dry, about as thick as a quarter. Make a small depression about three quarters of an inch on one edge of the board, and then cut a V-shaped notch from the edge of the board into the center. This little notch will collect your Tinder and help form an ember! You just made tools for lighting a fire, nice work! Speaking of Tinder…

This handy guide will continue in the next post so be sure to read it as well to learn the remaining steps for creating and starting your fire.  You’ve learned how to create the tools you’ll need but we still need to learn how to start the fire and gather the proper fuel! We will cover all of that in our next blog post, please check out our next entry to learn the rest of the steps for creating and starting your fire!

Would you like to learn these skills? Take a look at our Wilderness Survival Courses

OR view our course calendar

 Stay Safe, Play Hard


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