Fire Starting Part 2

Jan 22, 2017

Fire Starting: Proper Methods for Starting Fires

Part 2 of 2: Gathering Fuel and Starting your Fire


The first thing you’ll want to do look for is some Tinder.

Tinder is what you will use with your Bow and Drill to start the fire easily and quickly. It should be fine and dry to help with easy starting of the fire. Gather three to four large handfuls or a few double handfuls of this for use when you start the fire and as a reserve for the next morning when you need to start your fire again! Examples of Tinder would be: Pine needles, shredded bark from a juniper or cedar or slivers shaved from a dry branch or stick.

The next thing you’ll need is some kindling. Kindling is the material that you will light with your Tinder, starting the beginnings of your fire and preparing it to burn the real fuel! The easiest kindling to acquire are small sticks and twigs or branches, no thicker than your thumb (larger pieces will take longer to start to burn and we don’t want that yet!), that are often scattered around the area where you have made camp. Now we need the actual fuel for our fire!

Fuel Wood is used to keep your fire burning long enough for its intended purpose, whether that be cooking or keeping you warm. Ideally you want wood that burns hot and slow, leaving a nice warm pile of long-lasting coals for you to take advantage of.  Standing trees with dead limbs or large branches can be an ideal source of firewood, dead logs and other dead (but not too moist) wood can usually be used as well. You’ll want to pile your wood close enough to camp for easy access, but not too close to your actual fire. We don’t want the whole pile to go up in smoke by accident!

Once you’ve got everything gathered and your Bow and Drill are created it is time to light the fire! Using the Bow and Drill you made, we are going to light the fire using a few simple steps and an easy process that anyone can learn:

-          Step 1: Place some bark as your Ember Patch (leather or aluminum foil will also work in a pinch! Use what you have!) . An Ember Patch will transfer the ember from your fireboard to the Bird’s Nest. The Bird’s Nest is simply a double handful of Tinder, shaped to appear like a nest (in its most basic form). You can use multiple “nests” if required to help you start your fire, use your own discretion.


-          Step 2: Place your Ember Patch under the v-shaped notch in your fireboard and take a kneeling position, placing your left foot on the fireboard near the depression.


-          Step 3: Place your drill between the wood of the bow and the bow string. Press the drill into the depression on the fireboard and place the socket on top of the tapered end of the drill. Use your left hand to hold the socket steady while applying downward pressure.


-          Step 4: Grasp the bow with your right hand and with a smooth, steady motion twist the bow back and forth. Smoke will eventually start to appear and when it does you need to apply more pressure and drill faster!


-          Step 5: When a thick layer of smoke has accumulated around the depression, stop all movement. Take away the bow, drill, and socket from the fireboard, without moving the fireboard. Carefully take your left foot off the fireboard and then lightly tap the fireboard to until all of the ember has fallen out of the v-shaped notch and is lying on the ember patch. Remove the fireboard.


-          Step 6: Slowly fan the ash and small embers to solidify them into a larger glowing ember. Clutching the ember patch, carefully, drop the ember into your bird’s nest. Gently blow air into the nest with the bowl facing you and parallel to the ground. As smoke from the nest becomes thicker, continue to blow air into the bowl until fire appears!

Congratulations! You just created tools to make a fire and then created the actual fire itself. I told you anyone could do it! Learning the proper steps and methods are the key to easily building and starting a fire, but you can evolve and refine these skills for the rest of your life.

If you enjoy the content posted here then be sure to check out our blog next week for more general wilderness info and other helpful tips.

Stay Safe, Play Hard!


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