The ability to make a fire in the wilderness is undoubtedly one of most important survival skills that one can master. There are many ways to create a fire and your success depends greatly on the type of fuel sources you have available. The examples listed in this article will never fail you and are recommended for all type of survivalists.
The fuel sources you intend to use for creating a fire in the wild should be highly combustible, as time or weather may not always work in your favor. Even more, the duration of the flame is influenced by the type of fuel sources you are using.
A short-term flame may be the right answer for starting a fire under good weather conditions, but things chance considerably when nature fights against you. A long-term flame, lasting approximately five minutes is often required to create a fire under adverse conditions.
When planning your next camping trip, consider using these fuel sources:
Manmade fuel sources:
If you have money to spare, you can always buy the commercial tinder available at sporting goods or camping stores. These commercial variations are a sure thing and they will spare you the work of making your own homemade tinder. However, if you are the DIY type of person you can try to make your own tinder without spending too much.
To create a sure flame, there are two simple rules to keep in mind: first, one needs to combine highly combustible materials with an accelerant (this is different than fuel). And second, your tinder needs to be waterproofed, either by encasing it in a water proof container or by impregnating them in wax.
Here are a few examples of homemade tinder:
1. Take some cotton balls and cover them in Vaseline and then seal the cotton balls in a waterproof container.
2. You can use dryer lint with a paper towel tube and combine it with lighter fuel (accelerant). Then seal your mixture with wax to waterproof it
3. As an alternative you can soak dryer lint in DEET (use bug sprays in an emergency) and seal it with wax.
4. If you carry duct tape in your bug out bag, making your own tinder becomes easier. All you need to do is shred fine pieces of duct tape, put them together and ignite them with a ferro rod.
5. Some people prefer to carry steel wool in their survival bag because it ignites very fast using a ferro rod or a battery (9V or AA). I’ve tried this method on various occasions and I can guarantee it works as long as you pay attention to the burning time of the steel wool.
6. You can make waterproof matches by dipping the tip in the melted paraffin or by coating it with nail polish. You can also tie a piece of twine around each match to increase the burning time. Make sure you use strike anywhere matches as regular kitchen matches won’t work in the wild.
7. Creating charred material at home may seem complicated for some, but this highly combustible tinder will help you start a fire when all the odds are against you. To create charred tinder you must eliminate the oxygen factor from the fire triangle (heat, oxygen and fuel). You need combustible material to be heated within a metal container, then starve it of oxygen.
Suggested reading: Different types of fires you can make in the wild
Natural fuel sources:
Let’s assume you forgot your homemade tinder at home or you got separated from your bug out bag, now what? Well…you shouldn’t despair. You should think about what other options you have for starting a fire. Search for the natural fuel sources available within your environment. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you will be amazed how many things you can discover and what can you learn by experimenting with the resources Mother Nature provides.
Here are a few examples of good natural fuel sources:
1.Bird’s nests are ideal fuel sources and you should use these alternatives if there’s no other choice. They are highly combustible and you can incorporate them with any fire design you need. The trick here is to be able to find said nests and to be able and retrieve them without jeopardizing your physical integrity.
2. If you’re not good at climbing, you better improvise a bird nest by scraping bark using your survival knife. Look for cottonwood, cedar or tulip poplar trees and get your natural tinder without wasting too much energy.
3. If you have a sawtooth blade on your knife you can also turn horse hoof fungus into a fine powder that can be ignited easily using a ferro rod. You can carry this tinder in your bug out bag for later use as it ignites pretty quickly and you don’t have to look for other fuel sources. This is a quick solution for when time is not on your side and you have other survival tasks to take care of.
4. You can also use your knife to scrape dust from a flatwood slab as this natural tinder will help you start your fire faster.
Recommended article: Starting a fire against all odds
5. I’ve often used birch and pine bark as natural fuel sources because they ignite easily due to their high volatile oil content.
Depending on the season and the weather conditions, any dry matter that you can find in the wild can be ignited. It all depends on what you manage to find and what fire starters you brought along.
Starting a fire in the wild doesn’t require complex tools or expensive tinder, it requires a sharp mind and a keen eye to find and use the available resources. There are many type of fuel sources one can use and this article aims at pointing the ones that will never fail you when getting stranded in the wild.
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