A fire is an absolute necessity for your survival. If you find yourself stranded in the outdoors, you need to be able to make a fire to stay warm, provide comfort and clean water if necessary. There are plenty of different ways to provide the spark that is needed to create a roaring fire. You want to do your best to be prepared for anything. Experts recommend you carry at least two ways to start a fire with you at all times. You should also know at least one primitive way to light a fire just in case everything goes wrong and your modern method is not an option.
Modern Methods of Lighting a Fire
Modern simply means we don’t have to work nearly as hard to get that necessary spark that will set our tinder ablaze.
Matches-These are easy and lightweight and can be carried in a pocket, purse or backpack. Ideally you will want to choose waterproof matches, which cost a bit more, but are worth it. If you don’t have waterproof (and even if you do) you will want to protect them from moisture by keeping them in a waterproof case. Old pill bottles, Ziploc sandwich bags or plastic containers are all great ideas.
Lighters-These are cheap, easy and quick. A flick of your thumb and you have instant flame. Pack a couple just in case one malfunctions. Keep in mind, lighters will eventually run out of fuel.
Glass/Convex Lens-This method can only be used when the sun is in its full glory. If it is raining, snowing or nighttime, the glass from your binoculars, camera or an old pop bottle are not going to help you. The trick to this method is to angle the lens so that the sun’s rays are coming through the glass and hitting your tinder bundle. The heat produced will start the tinder smoldering and ultimately it will burst into flames.
Metal Match/Magnesium Stick-The sticks are typically sold with an attached metal rod. Sliding the rod across the magnesium will produce sparks. It is important you hold the magnesium stick close to your tinder and rub the rod across the stick fast enough to produce flying sparks. The sparks will land on the tinder and a flame will erupt.
Battery-You can use any batter, including the one from your flashlight to create a spark. You will need two wires, bared. Attach the end of a wire to each terminal. Touch the opposite ends of the wire together to create a spark. Do this directly over you tinder bundle in order to catch the spark.
Primitive methods are what our ancestors used when they found themselves in need of a fire. They couldn’t whip out their trusty Bic or their box of matches. They had to work to get a fire. You need to get familiar with at least one of these ways, just in case you find yourself in a situation where your bug out bag is nowhere to be found. All of these methods require practice and a lot of it. They are not easy and it is highly unlikely you will get a spark your first attempt. It will probably be about your fiftieth or hundredth attempt! Practice now so you don’t have to when you actually need a fire to survive.
Flint and Steel-Think back to the days of banging two rocks together. Flint and steel is essentially the same concept. However, modern times have afforded us handy flint and steel rods that can be packed into your bug out bag or your front pocket. If you don’t have one, look for flint on the ground. A sharp rock slammed into a piece of carbon steel will produce a spark. Stainless steel is not a good option, look hard for carbon steel.
Fire-Plow-This will require you to find two pieces of wood. You will need a soft wood for the â€œbaseâ€ portion and a hardwood for the plow that you will rub into the base. You will need to make a trough in the softwood with a knife. Cut a tip off the hardwood to create a blunt end. Use your thigh to support the base at a slanted angle and push your hardwood piece up and down the trough quickly to create a spark. You will want to have tinder at the bottom of your hardwood to catch the sparks you create.
Bow and Drill-This is similar to the fire plow, except you will be adding a couple more pieces to the setup. You will use a string, paracord or a shoelace wrapped around your hardwood spinning tool. You will need a rock or another piece of hardwood to use as a handhold placed over the top of the spinner. Using one foot to hold your softwood base in place, use the bow to twist the spinner, while pressing down on the handhold. This is a little easier on the hands than the fire plow. You will need to get the spinner going pretty fast to create the spark you desperately need.
All of your methods for producing a spark, will not mean much if you don’t have a proper tinder bundle. This is one of the most crucial pieces to getting a fire going. Choose dry bits and pieces you can find in your surroundings that will catch easily when your spark hits it. Dried moss, pine needles, grass and paper are all ideal for building a tinder bundle. Fashion the bundle into a nest. When the spark hits the nest, you will need to gently blow on it to feed the spark that will hopefully become a flame. Sometimes it helps to pick up your tinder bundle and gently sway it to get oxygen to your fire.
Your fire needs to be treated as a baby in those first few delicate moments. You need to nurture it and feed it properly. Start with small twigs and pieces of wood to slowly build it up. Don’t toss any large logs on until your fire is healthy enough to consume the large pieces. Building a fire is truly a skill you must practice often in order to become proficient at it. Challenge yourself and practice your fire making skills in the rain and in the dark to really become good.