Building Fires

Discussion in 'Equipment & Survival Kits' started by Rizzoni, Oct 3, 2008.

  1. Rizzoni

    Rizzoni Guest

    I saw this kid down at this fishing cove I go to and he was trying to build a fire, yet he was utterly clueless. He was older kid, around 17. So this lead me to wonder, how old were most of y'all when you learned how to build a fire on your own? I was probably 9, maybe 10.
  2. Neuromancer

    Neuromancer Guest

    I learned from riding my bicycle and finding lighters people had thrown out of their cars...
    then I moved on to magnifying glasses... which you can easily light a cigarette with
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2008

  3. carnut1100

    carnut1100 Well-Known Member

    Not sure when I learned. Been able to do it for ages though.
    Often if I am at a friend's place and they want to start a fire I will do it as they will take ages to get something going but I will get it blazing in a few minutes.
    I think it is an essential skill for EVERYBODY to have.
  4. Bigdog57

    Bigdog57 Adventurer at large

    I got an early start indeed - I burned the back yard when I was about seven years old. :eek:

    I have refined my protective techniques.....
  5. ldmaster

    ldmaster Well-Known Member

    About 11 years old. Since I LIKE to be warm, when I'd go on hikes I'd pick up stuff like dry moss, and other stuff that makes starting any fire easier. When I discovered magnesium, I just about went crazy testing it with other tinders. I also learned that a 5min road flare will start a fire pretty easy too. But I prefer to watch the various layers of tinder catch one another on fire from my flint. Tried a bow and drill (indian) method once, fun, but you need a LOT of prep and the right drill and plank. If I'm going to carry something for fire, a little flint stores better than a bow/drill/plank.
  6. Jack

    Jack ExCommunicated

    +1 on the flint and stone ( magnesium rod and knife blade in my case)

    but stacking fires i am surprised how many folks just dont know!

    i grew up in the bush in Australia and the local indigenous folks had many different ways of lighting fires including chemical ( sap and limestone, man that gets hot!!)

    crushed sea shells burned in a fire, then scraped and crushed again and burned and added some rock or mineral salt again makes pure sodium lime sprinkle this on dry moss or pounded bark and a few ( very few) drops of water and it will self ingnite in a few minutes

    DO NOT GET ON YOUR SKIN!!!! the burns from this are shocking as it gets absorbed fast and can burn for days UNDER YOUR SKIN..


  7. socofn

    socofn Guest

    I was about 8. The road flare is the best in the world if you can carry one around. JP
  8. live2offroad

    live2offroad Member

    I honestly can not remember a time when I did not know how, so I must have been young. Thats how my dad was, I was taught "outdoors stuff" from as early as possible. Thanks Dad!

  9. I know you can make a fire with two pieces of flint but what exactly do you have to do to get it going?

    Jack, broken sea shell burn in a fire? That's handy to know!
  10. JeepHammer

    JeepHammer Well-Known Member

    When we are trying to educate new hunters or hikers, we always recommend you have at least three ways to make 'Fire'...

    1. The most obvious. A disposable butane lighter in waterproof package, zip lock bag or old pill bottle.

    2. Water 'Resistant' matches.
    There is no such thing as 'Water Proof', and most of the 'Survival' matches require a special striker to get them lit...
    Which peels off the box when it gets damp!

    I prefer the actual, military version of 'Life Boat Matches' when I can find them,
    When I can't, I use 'Strike Anywhere' matches dipped in Paraffin.
    Use your fingernail and pop the paraffin off the head and strike about anywhere!

    3. 'Super Match', 'Super Striker', or other spark throwing device. They work SO MUCH BETTER than a flint and steel!

    I used to recommend the old magnesium block with the striker built into the back side,
    But with most knives and camping gear being stainless steel or aluminum, it's hard to get a good spark from them now.

    4. In really cold areas, where you are likely to get wet and your hands are all but useless, FLAIRS.
    I use signaling flairs, not highway flairs most of the time simply because they are more water resistant and easier to light.

    These are good for lighting fires NO MATTER WHAT,
    They will get the attention of anyone except for Stevie Wonder in a several mile radius,

    And they burn HOT, you can warm yourself up quite a bit with just the flair while the 'Fire' is just staring and isn't putting any heat out yet...

    No fire is going to take off without tender to get a coal bed started!

    The best tender I've found for light weight emergency conditions is COTTON BALLS AND PETROLEUM JELLY.
    Cheap, light weight, non toxic in case it leaks in your pack or pocket and won't freeze...
    Will ignite with nothing but sparks and burns like crazy for a while considering it's mass!

    I used to dry tender from one fire and keep it in a water proof match case for the next fire, but now I just use petroleum jelly and cotton balls.

    Another quick fire starter is steel wool and a battery.
    Even a half dead 9 volt battery will start steel wool blazing, and you had better not have fingers in the way once it starts!

    Steel wool also ignites quite readily with a match.

    The most missed understood part of starting a fire is the Tender you use.

    Most people try and start with small twigs (or not so small sticks!) and that rarely works.

    Finding a piece of dry wood, like a tree limb that is still hinging out of the tree or standing up off the ground is your best bet.
    Most people try and shave slivers off the dry wood, but you will be better off SCRAPING the wood and collecting the 'Fluff' that comes off.
    That fluff burns MUCH better than any slivers do!

    Use the 'Fluff', or some of the recommended tender from above, as the 'Starter'...
    'TeePee' some small, dry twigs or wood shavings over that starter, and gradually get bigger with the stuff you feed the fire.

    Wet or really cold climates, it will be exceptionally hard to get the tender burning well, so go slow, and when you think you have enough 'Starter' and enough 'Tender' and enough 'Fuel' then go out and get 4 times as much, because what you think you have is only about 1/4 of what you will actually need!

    This sounds silly, but you should probably get an old BBQ grill bottom and practice starting fires until you can get them going every time with one match so you know EXACTLY how much work is involved in getting a fire started without the benefit of a flame thrower!
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2008
  11. Jerseyzuks

    Jerseyzuks Well-Known Member

    One of my chores when I was little was to clean out the wood burning stove and build a fire for the next day, so I was probably about 6 or 7 when I could build a good fire
  12. JeepHammer

    JeepHammer Well-Known Member

    Can you still do it under stress?
  13. guyfour

    guyfour Guest

    Has anyone heard of using a ninevolt battery and steel wool? What if there was a crank operated device that generated a small spark to start fires with between two pieces of metal (based on magnets spinning to generate the electricity), this would be useful and frictionless so hard to wear out.
  14. ldmaster

    ldmaster Well-Known Member

    Yes, seen the 9 volt and steel wool trick in hunter education, as I imagine a lot of us have - they are SO fond of their little tricks...

    When I referred to flint and steel, what I was actually referring to was ferrocerium. In case anybody remembers.
  15. darkling

    darkling Guest

    What "little tricks" are you referring to?
  16. ldmaster

    ldmaster Well-Known Member

    the little tricks they share with you when you take hunter education. All hunter education instructors have them, from how to start a fire, to waterproofing things.
  17. Narsil

    Narsil Member

    The best, most reliable, long lasting method of fire-starting is the magnesium block fire-starter, available at Wal-Marts and most any outdoors/sporting goods store for less than $5 usually.

    If used judiciously, one fire-starter will last you years and start hundreds, if not over a thousand fires. It consists of nothing more than a small 0.5" X 1.5" X 4" block of magnesium with an embedded sparker rail and scraper on a ball-chain. You get your fire materials ready: tinder, kindling, and fuel. Then you use the scraper to scrape off a quarter-sized pile of magnesium flakes which you place on your tinder. Reverse the block and use the scraper on the sparker rail to create sparks which will ignite the magnesium. With a little practice, you can easily and fairly quickly start fires with even damp (not wet) materials and the magnesium fire-starter takes up very little room and is light-weight.
  18. Washkeeton

    Washkeeton Well-Known Member

    I keep handy 2-one gal bags of fire starter materials for every day Im out... Basically I have the tried and true birch bark with all the wood chips I can muster into a bag (dried of course)... Starting a fire in the cold and damp up here is a bugger some times... dried birch bark and the wood chips that I get from chopping the wood is a great starter... I collect bags of it over a period of time and keep it for my outings. I dont think I have started a fire with paper since I have been in AK. I do have 3 of the 18 gal rubber maid containers full of dried bark and wood chips in my house right now... I collect enough of it to build my fires for my home when I chop wood any way so anything over and above goes to the collection pile. When I chop wood I peel off the bark dry it and save it.
  19. Fetthunter

    Fetthunter Ready for Doomsday!

    For $9.99, I'll take the Swedish Firesteel:

    Lasts for 3000 sparks, and generates a 5,500 degree F spark, which is enough to ignite even damp materials. Also, there are no shavings to worry about, so it's faster (you don't have to spend time scraping to make shavings), and if it's windy, you don't have to worry about the shavings blowing away (which they will). :)

    Also, it's pretty darn "idiot proof". Even kids can use it.
  20. Homer_Simpson

    Homer_Simpson Well-Known Member

    I started my boy out when he was 10 years old with a Swedish Firesteel. I have him use only tinder char-cloth and some rope made into a nest works every time even when wet. I was a master at campfires by 9 or 10 as we had them every night and I got to start them, I went through all the trials and errors one can go through.

    One thing to remember with teaching kids, they have the attention span of about 3 minutes, that being said, the first thing you have to teach them is to gather enough tinder, larger sticks and wood for burning. When you send them out they will grab a handful of each and run back saying they are ready to go, I let my son go and when he couldn't keep a fire going it was one lesson learned that when he thinks he has enough wood to go out and get 5 times that amount. Starting a fire is all in the preps, he learned that day that spending 20 minutes gathering all the material he needs will make the actual starting the fire that much easier.

    In his kit he has a Swedish fire steel, a magnesium block, char-cloth, rope, cotton soaked in vasoline, a bic lighter, matches (both waterproof & strike anywhere) an actual flint rock and steel striker, I also picked up a pack of fire starter sticks from Walmart and a candle. My kit contains the same. These kits go with us anytime we are in the woods, and really don't take up that much room.