fire starting

All posts tagged fire starting

Start a fire when everything is wet

By Chris Black – SurvivoPedia

Starting a fire in adverse weather, whether is rain or wind or both is a very important survival skill every outdoors aficionado must possess. The ability of igniting a fire when things are less than perfect is a fine art which must be learned and practiced until mastery is achieved.

The thing is, nature doesn’t care much about our best laid plans, mice and men alike and an emergency never comes alone. I mean, when confronted with a survival situation, you’d at least expect fine weather, cool breezes and sunshine.

In reality, your survival in an emergency situation will become much more complicated than initially thought and I would dare to say nine times out of ten, as you’ll end up not only lost in the woods or wherever, but you’ll also have to deal with rain, cold and high winds.

Contiue reading at SurvivoPedia: 3 Steps To Start A Fire When Everything Is Wet



DIY Fuel

By Chris Black – SurvivoPedia

Let me start today’s article with an axiom: despite the fact that DIY-ing briquettes is a hard and messy job, if you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty, you can make a reasonable income by selling (your extra) charcoal/wood briquettes.

The idea is that you can make DIY briquettes for your homestead provided you’re fine with “dirty jobs” whilst making an extra buck by selling some of them to your neighbors.

The demand for these babies is pretty high, so there’s definitely money to be made from briquettes.

Continue reading at SurvivoPedia: DIY Fuel: How To Turn Wood Into Briquettes

The Easy Way to Start a Wood Fire | Backdoor Survival

By Gaye Levy – Backdoor Survival

Fire, and all it represents, is one of the building blocks of survival along with food, water, and shelter.  Fire will cook the food, purify the water, and heat the shelter.  For that reason, it should come as no surprise that fire starting tools and paraphernalia are one of the first things newbie preppers acquire when they are first getting started.

Acquiring tools is all well and good and not to be discounted.  The real test, however, lies in the ability to actually start a wood fire. To that end, there are as many ways to start a wood fire as there are preppers.  Everyone has their favorite method, even if it is inefficient and poorly executed.  Most likely, they simply do not know of a better way.

Help is on its way. Ron Brown, friend of Backdoor Survival and author of the Non-Electric Lighting Series of books and eBooks, knows how to light fires.  He has been doing it for over 50 years, and he is here today to teach us how.

Continue reading at Backdoor Survival: The Easy Way to Start a Wood Fire

About the author:

Gaye Levy started Backdoor Survival so that she could share her angst and concern about our deteriorating economy and its impact on ordinary, middle-class folks. She also wanted to become a prepper of the highest order and to share her knowledge as she learned it along the way. On Backdoor Survival you will find survival and preparedness tools and tips for creating a self-reliant lifestyle through thoughtful prepping and optimism.

To read more from Gaye, visit her website, Backdoor Survival. You can also follow Gaye on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest or purchase her eBook, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage on

4 Overlooked Fire-Starting Methods That Could Save You In A Pinch

Image source:

By Kevin Danielsen Off The Grid News

Having the knowledge, skill and redundancy in your pack’s fire-making systems is absolutely crucial, especially if you plan on spending any length of time in the wild. Not only does fire have the ability to keep that eerie nighttime psychological sasquatch at bay, but it will also provide life-sustaining access to heat for staving off the chills when temps take a dive.

And of course, in a survival-type scenario, a fire is always a great way to make sure that your presence is known to anyone flying above, who just so happens to be looking for you.

With that said, it’s important to possess several fire-making options at your disposal. The four mentioned in this post have one primary trait in common: They do not require a prepared kit of cotton balls or commercial/military developed tinder. All you’ll need is what’s mentioned in the four kits below, including your own tinder bundle that you make when you get there — after compiling two handfuls of dried fibrous goodness that only nature can provide. The rest is up to you (and the quality of your firelay).

Continue reading at Off The Grid News: 4 Overlooked Fire-Starting Methods That Could Save You In A Pinch


By Ken Jorgustin – Modern Survival Blog

To build a fire, you start with a source – a spark or flame. Ideally you will have at the ready some fine dry tinder to which the spark or flame is applied. Next comes kindling and then progressively larger pieces of firewood.

Tinder is very important in that it is often a necessary step to successfully build a fire, and the quality of your tinder will determine your results.

Here’s a list of tinder sources:

While building a fire, the right preparation is the most important consideration. The tinder should be the lightest, driest, and most combustible materials in your fire bundle.

The purpose of tinder is to catch the flame and burn long enough to ignite larger pieces of kindling. Regardless of your choice of tinder material, fluff it up or shred it so that more surface area is available for the flame to grab hold.

Keep your tinder dry, and in a weather proof container.

Continue reading at Modern Survival Blog: Tinder For Building A Fire

children survival skills

By Jenifer Jost

The kids in my neighborhood are old enough to run in a pack, but young enough that they keep grown-ups on radar. They may head out on bikes and skateboards for a time, but return to circle any present adult in a four-foot radius, like coyotes surrounding a carcass. For moms, this means many, many summer days of herding the pack into energy-burning activities.

Summer vacation is a good opportunity to teach kids basic survival skills. From growing food to first aid, kids love survival lessons. Make up your own list of activities, but give them enough leeway to experiment. Their ideas might surprise you.

1. Gardening

When I started a garden club for kids, I worried if they would act too rowdy and destroy the plants, if they’d give up, or if I’d end up doing all the work. As it turned out, even the kids who would rather play Xbox than run through a sprinkler love being a part of the garden club. They have pride in ownership, in being able to take something to their families’ tables.

Their way of doing things is sometimes silly, but I let them try. Last year, I broke a cucumber plant in transport. My son acted as though it was a wounded pet. I wanted to throw it out, but he said, “It’s sick. It needs to be tucked in.” He planted the cucumber, then used a rock as a pillow, and a leaf for a blanket. I was surprised when the plant took off and became one of the season’s best producers.

Awaken Your Child’s Love of Learning, History And Adventure!

Teaching kids to grow their own food gives them knowledge and power. Even if you don’t have much room, growing a container garden with high-producing plants such as strawberries and cherry tomatoes will provide several hours of entertainment.

2. Managing Fire

Giving kids the ability to start and control fire is a powerful motivator. It might be one of the scarier skills to teach, but I’ve found that most kids learn a healthy respect for fire after the first time they scald a finger.

Teaching this skill takes a lot of patience. It’s hard for beginners to build a proper structure to start a fire, and they might have to do it two or three times before getting it right. Show them how the kindling and logs must be placed in a way that allows fire to draw in oxygen from all sides.

I like to find a place, such as a camping spot or an open field, where we can have two fires: one built by the adults, and one by the kids. They kick into high gear when there is competition, running for kindling and sticks as if they’re on an Easter egg hunt.

When they gain competency in starting a fire, they can be taught how it’s contained and extinguished. Make a contest of who can collect the most rocks for a fire ring, or dig the deepest pit for a hidden night fire. Give each kid a bucket to collect water for extinguishing the fires; they’ll have so much fun listening to the hiss of dying embers and pretending to send smoke signals, they won’t even realize they’re doing all the work.

Story continues below picture

Children survival skills

3. Outdoor Cooking

Why do all the cooking when the kids will do it for themselves? Once they’re used to managing a fire, the next logical step is learning to cook over it. If they’re not accustomed to cleaning animals, making “hobo bags” can be a first step.

Hobo bags are whatever meat and vegetables you have on hand, wrapped in tinfoil, and roasted over the fire. If you want to get creative, you can get kids to find wild onion for flavoring.

Better yet, give each kid a basket or bag, and hit the trails with a field guide of edible plants. Kids quickly memorize plants that are easy to identify, such as prickly pear, morel mushrooms, dandelions and clover.

4. Shelter

Teaching kids about shelter can be tricky. While most kids like the idea of roughing it, it’s easy to turn them away from outdoor living. The first few times out, make sure they are warm and dry enough to enjoy it.

Build up their confidence by taking walks after dark, to identify sounds they will hear during an all-night trip. A fun nighttime game is to give each kid a flashlight, and let them follow the bellows of a bullfrog until they find it. Usually, the frog will patiently allow himself to be viewed, at least briefly, before splashing away.

To get kids used to dealing with rain, take them on a nightcrawler hunt. Allowing them to collect the worms in a soda bottle prevents them from spilling their worms all over the ground during the chase.

5. Water Collection

Water collection can be taught at any time, and at virtually any place. When the forecast calls for rain, challenge kids by creating a contest of who can collect the most water. Send them on a scavenger hunt to find baggies, plastic grocery bags, or other containers. Teach them different methods of hanging, spreading and half-burying containers to catch water, and let each one develop his or her own preferred way to catch water.

When the water is collected, show them different methods of purifying water, such as boiling, filtering or adding tablets.

6. First Aid

Kids love the drama of playing on a mock rescue team. Invent scenarios that allow kids to administer first aid using on-hand materials. One child can pretend to have a broken leg, while the others make up an appropriate splint with sticks and torn-up pieces of an old shirt.

Assembling first-aid kits is also a great learning experience for kids. It familiarizes them with the different products available. If they’re made to pack their kits on a hike or a camping trip, they will also learn how to prioritize supplies.

What would you add to the list? Tell us in the comments section below. 

Sign up for Off The Grid News’ weekly email and stay informed about the issues important to you

This article first appeared at Off The Grid News: 6 Ways To Teach Your Kids Survival Skills This Summer


fire starter

By Rich M

Fire is one of the most important necessities for survival. While we don’t use fire much for our day-to-day lives when living at home, that’s only because we have replaced fire with other things. Our heating, cooking, light and water purification are often taken care of by electrical means, leaving fire out of the picture. Nevertheless, if we didn’t have electricity, we would find ourselves forced back to using fire to provide for those basic survival needs.

Fire is such an important part of survival that most survival instructors suggest keeping two primary forms and two secondary forms of fire-starters in a survival kit. That means any survival kit, whether it is a compact kit, an everyday bag or a bug-out bag. In addition, if you are planning on bugging-in in a crisis situation, you should have plenty of fire-starters in your home.

When we refer to primary and secondary fire-starters, we are basically referring to the ease by which they are used. Primary fire-starters are the easy ones which we can use just about any time. Secondary fire-starters are those that are a little harder to use. Therefore, they are usually only used when the primary methods are not available.

There’s one other thing that helps to confuse this whole issue. That is the difference between the device or method which provides the first spark, coal or flame, and the device which spreads that initial flame, so that it can grow into a fire big enough to provide us with the needed warmth and light. These fire-starters are more rightly tinder for the fire, rather than a fire-starting method; even though they are sold as “fire-starters.” While those are important as well, for the sake of this article, we’re going to ignore this category of fire-starter.

Any fire requires three things:

  • Oxygen
  • Fuel
  • Heat

The oxygen is normally provided by the air around us. The fuel is what we are planning to burn. This is divided into categories by size and ease of ignition. To start any fire, you need to start out with combustibles that are small and easy to ignite. Once they are ignited, they are used to start larger pieces of fuel burning. The breakdown of fuel is as follows:

  • Tinder – Must be something small and easy to ignite, such as dry grass, char cloth, a cotton ball soaked in petroleum jelly, dried tree bark, dried moss.
  • Kindling – Small dry branches which the tinder can ignite. Generally speaking, this refers to dry branches and sticks that are the diameter of your finger. It can also mean pieces of larger branches which have been shaved off to that size.
  • Fuel – The chunks of tree branches or trunks which will be burned, providing heat and light while being able to sustain itself burning for prolonged periods of time.

These three categories have been used for years and are commonly understood worldwide. While the actual materials used can vary, it is always important to make sure that they will all catch fire easily and quickly. Dry wood may be hard to come by, but it is critical for a good fire.

Primary Fire-Starters

Everyone should keep a goodly supply of primary fire-starters in their kit. The two most common are matches and butane lighters. Lighters are great in that they provide the means for starting over 1,000 fires in one compact package. However, they do have their drawbacks. A lighter can be accidentally discharged, allowing the gas to escape if the valve is inadvertently depressed in your pack or pocket. The other problem is that they do not work when cold. If it is cold out, you should keep your lighter inside your clothing, next to your body, where it will keep warm enough to work.

It Is Safe, Will Burn On Snow, In Rain & In 30 MPH Winds, All Natural Fuel…

Matches come in a wide variety of forms and types. Most stick matches today are what is known as “safety matches.” The safety comes from the fact that you can’t ignite them without having the striker from the match box. That means that if you lose the striker or it becomes wet, your matches are worthless.

For this reason, most people prefer carrying strike-anywhere matches. While harder to find, these can be struck against any rough surface, such as a convenient rock. You can even strike them against the fabric of a pair of blue jeans, if you do it right.

There is something even better than strike-anywhere matches; they are known as “stormproof matches.” These special matches will literally ignite while being rained upon. In fact, you can light them underwater and they will burn. While expensive, these are so effective that they are well worth carrying as part of your kit. In a pinch, you can use the stormproof matches even when others won’t work.

Secondary Fire-Starters

All other fire-starters are considered secondary fire-starters. While they might be just as effective, they are not as easy to use. If you are going to carry any of these fire-staring methods with you (and you should), then you should practice with them, so that you can use them easily when you need to.

Secondary fire-starters can be broken down into a few different categories:

  • Using batteries
  • Using the sun – which further breaks down into lenses and parabolic reflectors
  • Using a spark
  • Using friction

While there are other methods, such as chemicals which will spontaneously ignite when mixed together, they really aren’t practical for a survival situation. Therefore, we will limit our discussion to these three types of secondary fire-starters.

1. Starting a Fire with Batteries

If you’ve ever seen a fuse blow, you have a pretty good idea of how a battery can be used to start a fire. When the electricity in the battery passes through a conductor that is not large enough to carry the electricity, it causes the conductor to heat up and burn (assuming there is oxygen present). If the right materials are used for the conductor, this provides an excellent way to start a fire.

For any fire-starter that uses batteries, it is necessary for the conductor to make contact with both poles of the battery. While this is easiest with a 9-volt battery, most survival equipment doesn’t use 9-volt batteries. Using two AA or AAA batteries works well. It is even possible to start a fire with one AA or AAA battery, although it is may take a little longer to ignite.

  • Steel wool – This is a very popular method. 0000 steel wool, pronounced “four ought,” is essentially very fine steel wire. To use it, you take a small piece of the steel wool and spread it apart and then brush it over both battery contacts. This will actually cause the steel wool itself to ignite and burn, oxidizing the steel wool (making it rust). Since it is an oxidation process, it is important to protect the steel wool from moisture before using, as rusted steel wool won’t work.
  • Gum wrappers – Some gum wrappers work very well for this type of fire-starter. For it to work you need one of the gum wrappers which is aluminum foil and paper combined. While most types of chewing gum no longer use this type of wrapper, some still do. The gum wrapper needs to be cut, so that there is a point where it is only about 1/8 inch wide. When put across the battery contacts, that narrow point is where the wrapper will start to burn. The paper will keep it burning.

If you are stranded in a car and need to start a fire, the car’s batter makes a great fire-starter. To use the battery, connect jumper cables to both battery terminals and briefly touch the jumper cables together, this will provide hot sparks, which can be used to start a fire.

2. Starting a Fire with Lenses and the Sun

Almost any lens can be used to start a fire from the sun, as long as it is a convex lens. A convex lens will cause the sun’s rays to focus on a single point, increasing the light at that point. Since the sun’s light readily converts to heat when it strikes an object, that can cause enough heat to ignite your fire. fire starter lense

Concave lenses don’t work for this like convex lenses do, because the lens will cause the sun’s rays to dissipate, rather than to focus on a single point. Some common lenses that you might want to try include:

  • Eyeglasses (put the convex side towards the sun)
  • Magnifying glass
  • Fresnel lens
  • Camera lens
  • Binoculars or a lens scavenged out of a pair of binoculars
  • A clear water bottle, filled with water

You can even make a lens out of ice. All you need is to find a frozen stream or pond and cut a piece of clear ice out of it. With your knife, roughly shape the block of ice to make two opposite sides convex. Then use your hands to smooth the two convex sides, finishing the lens.

To use a lens for starting a fire, you have to discover the focal point of the lens. That’s the point where the light all comes together. You can easily find this point by adjusting the distance between the lens and your tinder. When the point of light is the smallest, you have discovered the focal length.

Reflectors and the Sun

Reflectors work under the same theory as lenses, concentrating the sun’s rays to a point. The major difference is that the sun is reflected to focus it, rather than being focused through a lens. For this to work, you need a parabolic reflector. Fortunately, we find those all around us, even if we don’t realize it. Some common parabolic reflectors include:

  • The reflector in a flashlight
  • The reflector in a car headlight
  • The bottom of a soda can (needs to be polished, which can be done with ashes or toothpaste)
  • A stainless steel mixing bowl
  • A satellite antenna (will need to have the inside of the bowl covered with a reflective material, such as aluminum foil)

You can even buy a solar cigarette lighter and put it in your kit as an emergency fire-starter. These are small parabolic reflectors with a holder for the cigarette. Anything flammable can be put in the cigarette holder to start a fire. parabolic reflector

When using a parabolic reflector you have to find the focal length, just as you have to with a lens. The only real difference is that the focal point will be in front of the reflector instead of behind it. For flashlight reflectors and headlight reflectors, this point has already been defined. Just look at how the bulb sits in the reflector and measure the distance between the filament in the bulb and the back of the reflector. Your tinder should be in that same spot.

3. Starting a Fire with Sparks

There are a number of commercially manufactured fire-starters which function by creating hot sparks. These sparks can be directed into tinder, igniting it. While they all provide the same sort of sparks, they differ considerably in operation, although they all use magnesium, which burns readily. If you buy any of these, make sure that you practice with it, so that you are familiar with using it before you need to.

  • Metal Match – Of the various types of sparkers for starting a fire, the metal match is one of the oldest and most effective. The “match” consists of a block of magnesium. Some shavings are scraped off the match with a knife, allowing them to fall on the tinder. Then the back edge of the knife and match are struck against each other, causing sparks to fall on the magnesium shavings.
  • Ferrro Rod – The ferro rod is an adaptation from the original metal match. Like the metal match, it uses magnesium and steel to create a spark. However, you don’t start by scraping off shavings into the pile of tinder. All the rod does is provide the spark. The rod usually comes with a striker, which is a strip of steel. You start with the rod on the tinder and the striker against the base of it. When the rod is pulled up, it causes sparks.
  • Push Down Sparker – In order to make the metal match or ferro rod easier to work with, someone came up with the bright idea of mounting them together in a push-down holder. This device, called a BlastMatch, contains a magnesium rod and a steel striker. To use it, the BlastMatch is held in a way that pushes the striker up against the side of the magnesium and then pushed down, causing it to spark. An internal spring allows the unit to automatically reset.

 Story continues below video.

Since these fire-starter methods are only producing sparks, they need very good tinder to work with. While dry grass or moss works, you’re better off using them with a chemically treated tinder that will catch fire more quickly. The spark should start your tinder smoldering, which you can nurse into a flame by blowing softly on it.

4. Starting a Fire with Friction

When all else fails, you can make a fire-starter out of wood, depending upon friction to start the fire. This is the old “rub two sticks together” that many people talk about. However, rubbing two sticks together really isn’t all that effective, unless you really know what you’re doing.

  • A Bow Drill – The bow drill is extremely effective, although difficult to work with. Besides something to use as a bow, you will need a piece of soft wood to use for a hearth, a drill rod and a bearing block to hold the drill rod in place.

The hearth needs to be prepared by cutting a notch into the side of it. The point of this notch is where the drill rod is placed. This allows the burning sawdust to fall off the hearth, forming a coal. To use the drill, place the drill rod on the hearth and hold it there by pressing down on the top of it with the bearing block held in one hand. The other hand pulls the bow back and forth, spinning the drill rod.

A bow drill will produce a coal within about a minute of drilling, if you use dry wood and have prepared it properly. While difficult, this method works extremely well and can be done even if you don’t have any other fire-starters with you. That makes it the ultimate fire starting method for survival.

With all of these fire starting methods, you are only going to have either a small flame, a spark or a coal. That means that you need to be ready to use what you get to start your tinder burning. In addition to providing good tinder, expect to have to nurse the fire into life, blowing on the beginnings of it to get flames to appear. When they do, you can gradually add larger and larger pieces of kindling, until your fire is big enough to ignite your fuel.

Sign up for Off The Grid News’ weekly email and stay informed about the issues important to you

This article first appeared at Off The Grid News: 4 Unusual Yet Ingenious Ways To Start A Fire