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#161018 - 01/24/12 10:18 AM Firestarting Tips Techniques? *****
Dave H Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/10
Posts: 57
Loc: Charlotte, NC
Under normal conditions I have no problem getting a fire started. Of course that is not when you are going to need it the most.

We have had about 5 days of off and on rain and everything is really wet. So yesterday I took my son outside to see if we could get a fire started using only a pocket knife and few matches and whatever we could find outside. We were getting a light misting of rain at the time. I figured if I could teach him how to start a fire under those conditions he could get a fire started just about anywhwere.

We built the basic log cabin then added a platform of sticks about three inches above the soggy ground. Then we split dead sticks, that were not laying on the ground, about 1 inch thick using our pocket knives into splinters. We then made a good pile of shavings from the inside of some of the split sticks. next we used a match to try to light the shavings. We were not real successful at getting much of a fire going. Even the shavings still seemed slightly damp. I suppose we could have used larger sticks to get shavings from but the bigger the sticks the tougher they are to split especially with a pocket knife. Only after using some dryer lint did we really get the fire going.

My question is this. If in a really damp situation without wetfire, dryer lint, lighter fluid etc. is there a good way to get a fire going? What are some sources of dry tinder you might find naturally?

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#161020 - 01/24/12 10:31 AM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: Dave H]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I look deep within conifers for little pockets of needles and twigs that are not damp and I also search for similar pockets in root balls, rock cavities, and the like. It may pay to start scrounging tinder before it rains, if you are out on a trip. Prepare to spend a lot of time coaxing the fire, feeding twigs at just the right moment, and gently blowing on the flames. A short length of rubber tubing is invaluable. It will take several minutes (half an hour or more), but you will eventually get to the point where you will achieve self-sustaining ignition.

Lastly, you can "cheat," and carry dryer lint, briquets, or whatever, up to and including Esbit or a canister stove. A friend of mine once got a fire started effortlessly, over the protests of the hypothermic victim we had just found, by opening a can of gelled alcohol, lighting it, and piling on slightly damp tinder. It did ignite, without any further attention - which was great, because we were quite busy with the victim.

You have framed the fire paradox quite precisely - when you need one, it will be difficult to light one. It is definitely an acquired skill. I used to be quite good at starting fires under adverse conditions, but years of carrying stoves and fool proof igniters has made me rather rusty.

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#161025 - 01/24/12 11:14 AM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: Dave H]
Blue_Ridge_Ninja Offline
member

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 98
Loc: North Georgia
Don't wait until you stop to make camp to start gathering good tinder material. Even if it's fairly damp, if you carry it close to your core your body heat will help dry it out while on the move.

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#161036 - 01/24/12 12:09 PM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: Dave H]
finallyME Offline
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Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
You can usually find try tinder by splitting wood and using the center of the wood, that is mostly dry. But, to do so generally requires an axe/hatchet, or a large knife to baton. You can do it with a small folding saw, if you know the trick.
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#161039 - 01/24/12 12:46 PM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: Dave H]
billstephenson Offline
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Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
The shavings were a good idea, but the thickness and moisture content are variables in how easy it will be to get them to flame up.

Digging down in a bed of pine needles under a tree is a good idea for tinder, and gathering the smallest twigs you can find on deadfall is good too. But in the conditions you were in, that might take some real searching to find the driest tinder and kindling available, and that's the key to getting a fire started. Having dry tinder before you need to start a fire is not cheating, it's being prepared.

Here's how I do it:

First, gather up a big pile of sticks ranging from the thickness of your wrist to the thickness of a pencil. That's your fuel. Set aside as many smaller twigs (less than a pencil to a toothpick size) as you can while you do that. That's your kindling.

If you have cedar in the forest you're in, find the driest side of the tree trunk and lightly scrape the bark with a knife downwards towards the open palm of your other hand so that it makes a fine pile of fuzzy fibers in your hand. Gather up several big handfuls of that cedar fuzz, being sure to remove any damp strips of the outside bark. That, and/or the smallest, driest, twigs you have is your tinder.

Now, Take some sticks about the thickness of your arm and line them up laying on the ground as close together as you can. Then take the next size smaller sticks you have and lay them crosswise on top of the first ones, again, as close together as you can. That's your foundation. It gets your fuel up off the wet ground and provides a bed for your coals to start building up and adds to them once they have.

One top of that foundation build your Log Cabin with sticks starting at 1 inch thick for the first layer and slightly thinner for each layer higher. I use sticks about 10-12 inches long for my cabin. When you get your cabin about 8-12 inches high start filling it very loosely with pencil sized sticks on the bottom and smaller one as if fills up, and end up with your smallest twigs, which should be not much bigger than toothpicks. Make sure there is lots of airspace in between all those sticks. If they're stacked like cordwood they won't light off.

Once your log cabin is filled this way gently make a little depression in the twigs on the top and fill it with your cedar fuzz. Very loosely place a few more of your smallest twigs on top of that.

If you have a box or book of matches you can break off the heads of 5-6 of them and put them inside of all that with the match legs added above them. Again, make sure there is some airspace in there so your fire can breath.

Now light your cedar fuzz (or whatever your finest tinder is) and tend to it by making sure that the flame can light off some of those smallest twigs above. Have some fuzz and twigs and sticks ready to add while the fire is starting up.

Once all that tinder flames up it should start burning down into the sticks in the log cabin below it. Once that's burning good the cabin itself should start burning. Keep adding sticks a couple at a time all the while, and again, add them so they are in the flames and have some airspace under them, you can stack them crosswise or tipi style, but don't smother any flame with them.

All this time you also want to start placing sticks close to your fire to start drying them out before you put them on the fire. Once your log cabin full of sticks and twigs has burned down to coals on top of the stick foundation under it you shouldn't have much trouble keeping it going as long you keep drying out your sticks before adding them and don't smother the flames when you do add them.
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#161041 - 01/24/12 12:48 PM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: finallyME]
billstephenson Offline
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Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
You can do it with a small folding saw, if you know the trick.


Well.... What's the trick?? laugh
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#161045 - 01/24/12 01:14 PM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: Dave H]
Dryer Offline

Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3591
Loc: Texas
That's good training! If you can make a fire in uncomfortable yucky conditions, you can make one anywhere.

What I do:
No dryer lint....it might not be cotton. Instead I melt paraffin, wad up paper towels as tightly as possible, dip/saturate, let dry with one corner protruding as a wick. One match will light a "fire bunny" and they burn for 10 minutes. I keep 2-3 of these in my kit. Esbit tabs work well too. I don't mess with firesteels and such. Book matches are normally what I use these days.
There are no conifers here. I start gathering tiny dried out/crunchy brier, toothpick size dead sticks, cedar bark, cedar heartwood, before making it to camp. Split small sticks for dry 'heartwood', or whittle down to the heartwood and make fine shavings. Once you get a BIG rats nest made, about the size of a soccer ball, then damp twigs and sticks will catch. That fire bunny will give you plenty of time to spot and correct problems.
Some people carry an auto flare. Those things will light wet wood if you start with sticks. I've also used little squares of bicycle innertube as fire starters.

Knowing how to light an emergency fire without starting aids is a great skill that should be learned. But, its quicker and safer to carry an aid of some kind.
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#161090 - 01/25/12 09:13 AM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: billstephenson]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Originally Posted By billstephenson
Quote:
You can do it with a small folding saw, if you know the trick.


Well.... What's the trick?? laugh


First you have to make a wedge and a baton. The wedge can be made from wood, or a rock. Then you use the saw to saw a split that you will place the wedge in, and then pound the wedge with a baton.
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#161093 - 01/25/12 09:37 AM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: finallyME]
Dryer Offline

Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3591
Loc: Texas
Quote:
Then you use the saw to saw a split that you will place the wedge in, and then pound the wedge with a baton.


Is this for splitting logs or making fire? I was hoping for a fancy way to start a fire with a saw.
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#161095 - 01/25/12 09:45 AM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: finallyME]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By finallyME

First you have to make a wedge and a baton. The wedge can be made from wood, or a rock. Then you use the saw to saw a split that you will place the wedge in, and then pound the wedge with a baton.


I do this with a knife. baton the knife into it with the grain and then follow the knife with the wedge, as the wedge opens the wood, pull the knife out, and just continue to whack the wedge till the wood comes apart. Can use one wedge or start with a small one and work up. Good way to split clean grain stuff to get at dry wood inside.

You do need a full haft knife for it. I've also seen it done by someone who carried an old handleless meat cleaver for this purpose.
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#161097 - 01/25/12 09:54 AM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: phat]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By phat
Originally Posted By finallyME

First you have to make a wedge and a baton. The wedge can be made from wood, or a rock. Then you use the saw to saw a split that you will place the wedge in, and then pound the wedge with a baton.


I do this with a knife. baton the knife into it with the grain and then follow the knife with the wedge, as the wedge opens the wood, pull the knife out, and just continue to whack the wedge till the wood comes apart. Can use one wedge or start with a small one and work up. Good way to split clean grain stuff to get at dry wood inside.

You do need a full haft knife for it. I've also seen it done by someone who carried an old handleless meat cleaver for this purpose.


Which does get to what I do, if it's really awful out.

I find tinder, usually spanish moss or fine twigs underside of conifers. If there is birch - great, find a dead one. if there is cedar, get under the wet outside layer of bark and scrape with knife or rock, the resulting shaved bark is really good. cattails? awesome. dry grass, workable but hard to find when it's pouring out. Now, really, if I'm outside and know I will have to do this, I am preparing ahead of time and picking up these materiels as I walk. It's a rare thing that I all of a sudden decide "oh I need to make a fire" in the middle of a rainstorm and have *nothing*" So I usually have *some* bits of workable tinder
with me. Frankly, I almost always have a bic lighter. In the winter I may be doing this with dryer lint and a ferrocium sparker. Either way I need the rest of the stuff.

If I can find enough dry small stuff under conifers, or deadfall, break it off and get a good enough pile to get good and hot, and get it going. Once the fire's hot enough I can add wood that's wet on the outside and it will self sustain, but I need enough dry stuff first to get a decent little fire going with some coals and staying power.

If I can't find this by looking around. I will likely find some straight grain dry wood and split it as above. This make take some time, so anything I can find of small twigs or dead stuff that's dry from the underside of conifers will speed the process, but if I have to I'm splitting my way down to twigs for some of it. the key here is really to get to dry stuff.

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#161098 - 01/25/12 10:28 AM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: phat]
Dave H Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/10
Posts: 57
Loc: Charlotte, NC
I appreciate all the info. I agree that preperation is best. I was thinking about worst case scenario. My son camps with the Scouts. Let say he sets up camp and he (and presumably a buddy) wander away to explore some and get disoriented. Now they are lost. A great way to get found is a big plume of smoke. A fire would keep you warm and has some positive pyschological benefits as well. So if you had to start a fire with only what is in your pocket. He carries a knife and a lighter in his pocket.

I will work with him on finding the dry tinder with the many suggestions offered here.

As a parent there is a lot of comfort in knowing that your son knows what to do and how to take care of himself. As a scout leader you see that even well trained boys sometimes make bad decisions. Sometimes it takes a lot of going over things to get it though.

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#161101 - 01/25/12 11:44 AM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: Dave H]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I don't understand why you guys play so nice with dead wood. i just stomp on it, drop rocks on it, or whatever, sending splinters all over the place, and then i pick up the dry ones and make the fire. My technique does a lot to relieve pentup male aggression and I am nice and warm as well....

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#161107 - 01/25/12 01:26 PM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: oldranger]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1115
Loc: Madison, AL
Originally Posted By oldranger
I don't understand why you guys play so nice with dead wood. i just stomp on it, drop rocks on it, or whatever, sending splinters all over the place, and then i pick up the dry ones and make the fire. My technique does a lot to relieve pentup male aggression and I am nice and warm as well....


That is always the first thought that goes through my mind when I hear people talking about batoning fire wood... it sure sounds like an awful lot of work. If I am gathering firewood I tend to make a lot of noise... either with a chainsaw or by yelling and smashing things.

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#161113 - 01/25/12 02:03 PM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: oldranger]
Dryer Offline

Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3591
Loc: Texas
Quote:
i just stomp on it, drop rocks on it, or whatever, sending splinters all over the place, and then i pick up the dry ones and make the fire.


Like. grin Someone once asked me why I don't carry a big knife in the even I have to make a lean to shelter from branches. Well, a big rock will bash off all the limbs I need!
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#161116 - 01/25/12 02:59 PM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: oldranger]
billstephenson Offline
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Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Yeah, stomping is my favorite way of breaking branches into manageable pieces. If it's too big to break up that way, and if it's really good fuel, I'll move up to taking a limb and breaking it between two trees that are close together. If it's too big for that I look for other wood.

I have friends that like to drag a tree trunk or big limb into a fire and scooch it in as it burns. I'm not a big fan of that. Branches burn better in a campfire and you can regulate the heat better with them. Adding a combo of thin and thick branches will keep a fire burning hot for a long time with no fussing. Branches also burn down to ash and small embers which are easy to put out. I've seen logs smolder for days after a campfire was left alone.

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#161127 - 01/25/12 07:55 PM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: oldranger]
phat Offline
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Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By oldranger
I don't understand why you guys play so nice with dead wood. i just stomp on it, drop rocks on it, or whatever, sending splinters all over the place, and then i pick up the dry ones and make the fire. My technique does a lot to relieve pentup male aggression and I am nice and warm as well....


when the dead wood will cooperate I'll certainly do this..

but try getting small size stuff out of dry large driftwood, and the caveman technique will only leave you exerted and tired smile

It really depends on the wood you've got, whether or not you can break it, and how wet it is.

However you remind me of a time in a BC backcountry campground where I walked in and set up, and the two other newb groups there (it was pouring) complained there was no wood, and they didn't have a "hatchet" - I went to the stream bed, hauled up 4-5 large dry avalanche kills that had washed down it, and proceeded to simply swing them overhand onto a rock to break them into pieces small enough to go in the steel "firepit" - made a fire, and then rigged my silponcho over the seat - boiled water for tea and waited - didn't take long for them to come over and look forlorn (I did share my dry seat and heat... silly buggers)

but back to the original topic - I've seen scouts get hurt doing silly stuff to break firewood - and while I'm a big guy and have the upper body strength to overhand a 6 foot log and break it (and know when to let go to not whack my hands) - most 11 to 13 year olds really don't. and so then end up jumping on stuff or doing silly things.. so they may need to be "coached" a little on caveman wood breaking methods.


Edited by phat (01/25/12 08:03 PM)
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#161129 - 01/25/12 08:13 PM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: phat]
Jimshaw Offline
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Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3973
Loc: Bend, Oregon
phat said, "It really depends on the wood you've got, whether or not you can break it, and how wet it is."

It is important to recognise that lighting a fire under dire circumstances may not be possible and depending on it may be fatal. NOT to mention that national park, forest, etc, regulations may prohibit wood fires and the cutting of trees. I mean I always backpack with a chainsaw grin and I'm sure you do too, BUT I remember a certain Oregon rain forest with 8 foot diameter douglas firs and nothing else and nothing would burn without gasoline to get it started and my chainsaw couldn't attack that.

or... and I hesitate to describe this, but I did use the word dire. IF you can collect a bunch of sticks and I mean under 1/4 inch diameter, even soaking wet, you can use a campstove to light a campfire, and obviously white gas would help a lot but is quite dangerous used as "Boy scout water". Set the stove on a level spot where you can grab it quickly and light it. Put a loose pile of sticks over the stove that at least a foot thick. As the heat of the stove comes up through the pile it will dry the thin wood and start it on fire. Maybe you can lift the edge of the pile now and be ready to pull out the stove before it EXPLODES, yet getting the maximum use of it to get the pile of sticks to dry out and burn. After that you better have a bunch more sticks, but without some bigger wood you are better off crawling into a hole.
Jim
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#161136 - 01/25/12 09:14 PM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: Jimshaw]
Steadman Offline
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Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 514
Loc: Virginia
Couple thoughts on technique:

1) candle stubs work great for firestarters, if you thought to bring them. So do the newspaper rolls tied in kite string, cut into 2" lengths, and then soaked in wax. Using these cheater methods undermines firebuilding skill development, but they are really useful when conditions are bad.

2) I prefer a small log cabin/ lean to for my initial tinder, graduating to a tepee/star type fire after I get initial ignition and burning of the tinder (going from the 1-2mm sized stuff off the underside of the pine tree to kid finger sized wood to adult finger sized wood and then on up - this is an incrimental process).

The "build a big log cabin and watch it burn" technique is too finicky and prone to failure for my taste (or at, least, I don't have the right skill set to make it work). Keeping tinder/burning small stuff close together and gradually expanding the fire by adding wood of the right size (at the right time) seems to be a more fool-proof way to proceed, in my humble experience.

However, Bill I REALLY like your idea of a wood base to the fire. I've usually tried to just keep the tinder off the ground in the lean to/log cabin starter, and count on the fire to dry out the ground.

3) For breaking wrist-calf sized wood, two trees set closely together works well to set up a windlass type system for breaking wood. Insert the downed tree into the two trees, and walk forward to break off pieces. Much safer than bashing, and effective on wood that won't break after being stomped. This is not LNT, but neither are effective fires for warmth and cooking.

The inherrent difficulties in building fires with natural tinder is one reason to have Scouts PRACTICE this skill on a regular and routine basis, particularly when new. I suspect that this is a reason for the timed contests in making a fire to burn a string suspended off the ground at camporees and such. Having them cook over the open fire is a way to increase the incentives to learn their craft well, and to remember how to do it when it counts for more than just a meal.

Steadman

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#161137 - 01/25/12 09:39 PM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: Dave H]
billstephenson Offline
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Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Do you have "Fatwood" there? I'm pretty sure I met someone that knew somebody from SC that had a stump of it in their yard. That's sort of close to you wink

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatwood

My neighbor was telling me old cedar stumps here will burn just about as good. We have them all over the place here. I know some are mushy, but others are hard as rock. If you do have fatwood, teach your kids to identify it. Good fatwood will light off when its been wet. I'm pretty sure it's waterproof.

Now that I think about it, a few years ago I found a small old cedar stump and tap root that had worked it's way onto the surface. After my fire was going and I was done cooking I put it on the fire and that thing burned like nothing I've ever seen before, and for longer than any wood I've ever burned. And it gave off a black smoke too. I must've stumbled on to some cedar fatwood. I don't think I'd even heard of fatwood at the time.

I'll have to go find some old cedar stumps and see how easy a piece is to light off. There might be cedar fatwood all over around here. It's rained all day here so tomorrow will be a good time to test it smile
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#161139 - 01/25/12 10:55 PM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: Steadman]
billstephenson Offline
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Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
The "build a big log cabin and watch it burn" technique is too finicky and prone to failure for my taste (or at, least, I don't have the right skill set to make it work). Keeping tinder/burning small stuff close together and gradually expanding the fire by adding wood of the right size (at the right time) seems to be a more fool-proof way to proceed, in my humble experience.


I've played with different arrangements to start campfires a lot, and I've observed others a lot too. There are lots of ways to set them up that work good, and most don't require as much fussing around as that one.

The advantages I've found with this arrangement are that once the tinder is burning you shouldn't have to mess with it at all, the fire should take off fast, get hot fast, burn hot a long time, and have a good bed of coals that will last awhile before it flames out.

The disadvantages are you have to sort by size, and break to length, a lot of sticks to set it up, and then you have to build it.

But sorting your fuel supply is something I've found pretty important to getting a fire going quickly anyway. You don't want to be futzing around trying to find more good tinder while what little flame you have is dying out.

This one takes some fiddling to build before you light it, but I think it's worth learning and practicing because it has consistent good results and it fairly well demonstrates the basic rules of making a fire, Tinder-Kindling-Fuel-Airspace. It sort of forces them in the building process too. If you try and stuff too many sticks in your log cabin it will fall apart wink

I take the time to do it because I can light it easily when I'm ready and then sit back and relax awhile.

I guess another tip worth mentioning and teaching the kids would be to mix your wet wood and dry wood while you keep your fire going. Once I have a fire going I'll often switch to adding fuel in a tepee arrangement. That works really good with damp fuel because you can tepee the bigger wetter sticks in the coals and keep the flames up with smaller sticks under them until they dry out enough to start burning. Once you have a good bed of coals you can burn some pretty wet wood doing that. I've had big billows of steam coming off my fires doing that smile




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#161162 - 01/26/12 10:00 AM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: Dave H]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Originally Posted By Dave H
I appreciate all the info. I agree that preperation is best. I was thinking about worst case scenario. My son camps with the Scouts. Let say he sets up camp and he (and presumably a buddy) wander away to explore some and get disoriented. Now they are lost. A great way to get found is a big plume of smoke. A fire would keep you warm and has some positive pyschological benefits as well. So if you had to start a fire with only what is in your pocket. He carries a knife and a lighter in his pocket.

I will work with him on finding the dry tinder with the many suggestions offered here.

As a parent there is a lot of comfort in knowing that your son knows what to do and how to take care of himself. As a scout leader you see that even well trained boys sometimes make bad decisions. Sometimes it takes a lot of going over things to get it though.


Being a scoutmaster, I would say first, get the kid a whistle. If he wanders off, he is much more likely to be found by blowing a whistle, then lighting a fire. But, it is still a skill he needs. I have noticed that scouts need a lot of training before they understand how to get a good fire going. Actually, the same applies to adults as well. Practice.
To add to that, it is important that he carry a lighter AND matches. He also needs to know how to properly use both. I let my scouts play with matches (with safety in mind, of course). They need to see the problems that matches have, and how to overcome them. The same with lighters.


Edited by finallyME (01/26/12 10:03 AM)
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#161196 - 01/26/12 04:27 PM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: finallyME]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6769
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Of course those of us who have used stoves instead of campfires for years do need to get out and practice lighting campfires once in a while. I discovered this after trying to show off my (unfortunately rusty) "one match fire" skills to my granddaughter. blush

I've usually used the tipi method rather than the log cabin method. As long as there's enough air space between sticks, it doesn't seem to matter.
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#161277 - 01/27/12 11:49 AM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: billstephenson]
Dave H Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/10
Posts: 57
Loc: Charlotte, NC
One of the nice things about being in Charlotte NC is that within a couple of hours drive we can be in the mountains or on the coast. Some times I can find fatwood but not always. Pines and cedar can be plentiful but sometimes they are nowwhere to be found, especially in the older hardwood forest. When I'm in a pine forest getting a fire started is not usually the issue as much as fire control.

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#161313 - 01/27/12 07:20 PM Re: Firestarting Tips Techniques? [Re: Dave H]
tybee Offline
member

Registered: 01/03/12
Posts: 19
Loc: coastal georgia
i'd always heard that particular pine substance pronounced "fat lighter'd". some northern friends of mine say they don't ever find it in the woods but it's not difficult to locate down here if one is in an old pine forest.

as to learning how to build a fire, when the kids were small, i used to challenge them to build a one match fire in the back yard fire pit. if they could get a fire going, it won a buck. if not....i could invent some more chores. smile
they got pretty good at it after a while. knowing that most of the effort is getting the correct amount of tender, small sticks and medium sticks on hand will serve them well. maybe.
i also prefer the "foundation of wood" to build the fire on top of. that technique also works well in a wood burning stove - the type you heat your house with - as well as it does building a camp fire.

another fire starting tip, a bit heavy for the back packers but i yak/canoe camp a lot so weight isn't as much of an issue, is to take match light charcoal briquettes, line three of them up, wrap in several layers of newspaper, wrap with string and store several of those packs in a plastic bag. you can get a pretty good fire going quickly with the three briquettes. by the time the fire is going good enough to cook over, that chemical smell is long gone.
i tend to take one 3 briquette pack for every campfire i plan on starting. the chief coffee maker really appreciates that when she arises before dawn to start the perculator. i do have to provide the wood so i gather up a "morning fire" worth of lumber before dark.
it's worth it to have that first cup delivered when i finally roll my carcass out of the tent.

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