concept of fire is simple because it follows the laws of physics.
There is something called the triangle of fire. Each point of the
triangle in necessary to obtain fire. In order to fight a fire, we
were taught that in order to kill a fire we must remove one or more of
the points of the triangle. The points of the fire triangle are Fuel,
Heat, and Oxygen. If we can put out a fire by removing one of the
points, it only stands to reason, that in order to build a fire, we
must supply each of the points.
Fuel is simply
anything that will readily burn. In the forest this is typically dried
grass, leaves, bark, and wood.
Oxygen comes from
the air around us. When nursing an ember or tiny flame to life, it is
important to gently blow on it to supply additional oxygen to give the
fire strength. The ambient air is typically 18% oxygen. When we
exhale, our breath is approximately 16% oxygen. This is sufficient for
us to breathe again; it is also definitely enough for a fire to
Heat is a bit more
tricky part of the triangle. And as such, will be the main topic of
the following text.
Any bar or restaurant you might happen into will have a
ready supply of matches. There are also disposable lighters
of every ilk at the local market, or any gas station you
stop at. I am a non smoker, but I always have a lighter on hand.
While making a fire by rubbing two sticks together may make for
wonderful television, the resulting fire is no more warm, or quick to
boil water, or cook food, than one started using a simple lighter. Now
with that being said, what do you do when the matches are wet, or
your little bic stops flicking? With a little knowledge, and some
planning, you can provide the requisite heat in any number of
to start a fire using any of the methods described below, the
survivalist must first make certain preparations. First among these is
to locate a good amount of dry tinder. Tinder is anything dry, light,
and airy, that will readily accept and hold a spark. Examples of
tinder include, but are not limited to, dry grass, Spanish moss, the
fluff from cattail milkweed or bull rush, and birch bark, etc. This
material should be fluffed between the hands and gathered into a ball
resembling a birds nest. As a matter of fact, this tinder bundle is
often referred to as a birds nest. Along with the tinder you will need
wood for the fire. A good rule of thumb is to gather 5 times the
amount of wood you think you will need. Some of this wood should be
very small twigs which are used during the initial stages of building
your fire. A good source of dried twigs, even during or shortly after
rain, is the dead lower branches of evergreen trees. These branches
are always dry, and they contain a resin which allows them to easily
catch fire. Your wood should already be cut or broken into useable
lengths. You may not be equipped to break down larger logs, but can
still make use of them. Once you have an established fire, one with a
good bed of coals, you can place these larger logs over the fire, and
actually burn them in half. You can then continue to feed the burned
ends into the fire.
Let us now take a
look at some of my favorite methods of starting a fire.