How to make a fire in the wild

Fire making in the Wild         Ever since the dawn of time the ability to make fire has been one of the man’s greatest achievements as fire was a tool that drastically influenced the quality of life. In today’s modern times there are a lot of tools that can help you start a fire, from mechanical to fuel based tools and this may be the reason why we take fire for granted. We are so infatuated by technology that when it comes to simple things like making a fire in a technology free environment, we can only speculate on how one can start a fire, especially in the wild. The most common answers people will give, when asked how they would proceed to start a fire, are either bashing two stones together to create sparks or rubbing two sticks together hoping it will work.

When it comes to making a fire in the wild there are more ways to do it than we would think of and this article aims to present the most common methods of creating a fire.

Using stones

This is the most primitive method of making a fire and in order to work one has, to strike a hard stone like quarts or flint onto another containing iron (such as pyrite or marcasite). The striking movement should take place above a pile of tinder, dried leaves or grass, wood chips, moss, etc. To make sure the material makes contact with the spark the striker is brought against the stone in a quick, straight downward motion. Once the material has ignited you should see smoke coming out of it, case in which you should gently blow to start a flame and add more material to feed the fire. Here is a video on how to make fire using stones.

Using sticks

This is another primitive method of making a fire with materials you find in the wild. In order for the method to work you will need to gather anything that is dry, fibrous and ignites quickly such as dried moss, dried leaves, bark, plant fibers, etc. which will be used as basic material to make your fire. There are two techniques vastly spread to make a fire using the sticks:

  • The hand drill

This is one of the simplest friction techniques and involves using the hands to rotate a wooden spindle onto a fireboard made from softwood. It may seem difficult to maintain the speed but with a little practice everyone should be able to do it. Video with this method posted here.

Here are the steps:

Step one: you will need to cut a notch in your fireboard; a v shape should do it. Then start a small depression next to it using a sharp rock or the tip of your knife. Set under your fireboard a piece of bark with the gathered material that should catch the ember.

Step two: cut a 1 and a half foot long, wood spindle from a hard wood and place it in the depression. While maintain pressure on the spindle, roll it between the palms of your hands, running them quickly down in a burst of speed. You have to repeat the motion until the tip of the spindle glows red and ember is formed.

Step three: Gently tap the fireboard to deposit the ember onto the bark and material and blow it to start a flame. Add more burning material once the fire starts to catch up.

  • The fire plough drill

Another method that help you produce ember used thousands of years ago. This technique requires a fireboard made from soft wood and a hard shaft that will be rubbed in a groove carved in the fireboard. For some, this technique seems simpler than the hand drill but, again, with a little practice everyone should be able to do it. You can see this technique at work by watching this video.

Here are the steps:

Step one: Cut a groove in the fireboard, and then place some fire material at the end of the board. The material will ignite with the ember produced during the friction.

Step two: Plough or rub the tip of the shaft up and down the groove. The friction will push out dusty particles of the fireboard, which will ignite as the temperature increases. You have to pay attention on how you do the rubbing motion otherwise you will break the shaft.

Step three: Lift the fireboard so that ember reaches the fire material and gently blow to start a flame. Add more burning material once the fire has started.

Using water

Usually, a person uses water to put out fires but in this case you will see how you can start a fire using this life giving liquid. In order to start a fire with water you need three elements a transparent container, good sunlight and of course water. The water will be used as a lens to focus the sun’s rays onto the burning material, which can be anything that gets easily ignited. Fill your container (plastic bottle, plastic wrap, glass recipient, etc.) with clean water and place it on a support made from two rocks. Check where the light beam is projected and add your burning material. If you’ve done it correctly the sun rays should ignite your burning material. As soon as smoke comes out blow on the material to start you fire. Even ice can be used as a lens, as long as it is clear ice, without bubbles. There are many ways to start a fire using water and here is a video in which a plastic bag is used.

Using glass

Although some people prefer to use a magnifying lens to start a fire, you may find yourself in a situation in which a lens is not available. In this case you can scavenge for a piece of glass or you can use the lens from you glasses, if they don’t have filters applied to them. What you have to do first, is to gather some burning materials that is dry, like tinder for example. Make a small tinder nest, the size of half your palm and place it in a spot that receives direct sunlight. Place your glass piece or your lens, a few inches above the nest until you manage to focus the sunlight into a very small point or beam. Hold the lens, still in place until you see smoke coming out of your tinder nest and gently start blowing until it catches fire. Add additional tinder or other burning materials once you get a flame. Here is a video of someone using a magnifying glass to start a fire.

These are some of the techniques you can use when you need to make a fire and you don’t have the proper tools. With practice it can become a simple routine that everyone can do it. It’s also important to remember that fire is not a right, it’s a privilege that humans have been using to improve the quality of their lives.

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