Knowing how to make fire is one of the primitive survival skills mastered by mankind. It can be termed as the flag bearer of ancient human civilization. Since ages, a well-built fire has proved to be bliss – it has given the necessary warmth to people around it; provided light in the midst of a jungle; and helped in roasting meat in a forest camp.
Fire has diverse use and by learning to build it you are on your way to master one of the basic survival skills of life. This article provides you some valuable information about the art and logistics of fire building. Read on.
Components of fire
Fire has four basic components. Absence of any one of them will either not allow the fire to burn, or, will prevent it from burning any further. The four components are:
1) Fuel. This includes wood, coal, gasoline, or any other combustible material.
2) Heat. The initial amount of heat necessary to ignite the fire is provided by matches or by the rubbing of two sticks.
3) Supply of oxygen. A burning fire consumes oxygen for combustion from the surrounding air.
4) Continued chain of chemical reaction. During the lifetime of the fire, a chain of chemical reaction goes on that produces intense heat and keeps the burning process on.
Four Steps to Fire Building
If you want to build a fire, you will have to go through a four-step process.
First, you need an ignition source. Popular sources of ignition include – matches, lighters, firesteel etc. If you are experienced, rubbing two wooden sticks can also provide the necessary spark. When you go for an expedition, it is recommended that you carry at least three different ignition sources in your survival kit. Waterproof matches, for example are highly popular among adventurists.
Second, you should arrange for the tinder. The role that tinder plays is to catch the initial spark or flame from the ignition source and then transfer this flame to the kindling. Sometimes, the kindling might be wet. The tinder in that case has to burn long enough to dry the kindling first before setting it on fire. The probability of building up the fire quickly increases proportionately with the dryness of the tinder. Tree bark (such as paper birch), dry small plants, grasses, wax, paper, dry needles of coniferous trees are popular tinder materials.
Third comes the kindling. If the surface to volume ratio of the kindling is large, it becomes easily combustible. When the kindling produces a hot flame, the bulk of the fuel catches the fire. Some of the best sources of kindling include dry twigs, small pieces of wood, and cardboards. Kindling can also be made by cutting a large piece of wood into smaller pieces.
The last, but most crucial component of fire that you need to take care is fuel. Fuel catches fire from the kindling and continues to burn for an extended period of time. Once the fire becomes well-lit, you need to simply add more fuel to the fire to make it burn for an extended period. Dry wood, dry grasses, animal dung, and coal are excellent fuels.
However, there may be different scenarios when you need to build a fire from absolutely nothing. The following are some ideas that can help you to deal such situations.
Create fire with a magnifying glass – If you have a magnifying glass, use it. Just gather some papers and small pieces of dry wood. Hold the magnifying glass in front of the sun to form a small dot on the paper. Within a few minutes you will get a flame.
Create a spark with steel wool and a battery – You need to hold the piece of steel wool and the battery on different hands. To get the spark, touch the end of the battery to the steel wool. This would act as the ignition source for the tinder. With a few attempts you can get a flame.
Create a spark with rock and a knife – Find a flint rock or a quartzite rock that has a point on it. Hold the rock on one hand with the point aimed toward the knife on the other hand. Strike the knife with the rock and sparks would fly. Create a pile of tinder and use this method just on top of it. Soon you will get a flame.
How to ignite wet matches – If you have a flashlight, you are saved. Surprisingly, you can light a wet match stick with the reflective part. Remove the reflective part of the flashlight and push the wet match stick through it. Position the head of the match stick where the bulb is located. Now hold the thing directly facing the sun. Generally it takes some time to get the flame as the process has to dry the match stick and then ignite it. Remember to keep some tinder nearby so that you can set fire to it as soon as the match stick catches the flame.
Thus, now you can now create fire when you do not have a lighter or any ignition source or even if you have a wet match stick!