Watch: How to Build a Fire

   09.25.17

Fire needs three basic things: fuel, ignition and oxygen. But to build a good fire, a few other things are also required.

For one, the difference between the ignition and the fuel has to be within a certain ratio. If you hold a match to the side of a tree, the tree is not going to catch on fire. All the ingredients are available, right? You have the ignition of the match, the tree as fuel, and oxygen in the air. So, under the basic theory, the tree should catch on fire. The match is not hot enough to catch the tree on fire, but if a forest fire was raging through the area, the tree would catch on fire.

Wind direction is another factor. If the wind is blowing the fire away from the fuel, the fire will die. When starting a fire, the match needs to be in a position so that wind will blow the heat from the match onto the fuel.

I start by building a house for the fire to live in, and a bed for it to sleep in. Not an actual house of course; more like a lean-to.

Gather pine straw, dried grass, anything that will burn quickly to act as tinder, and place it on the ground. This is the bed for the fire to start.

Place a good sized twig next to the bed. Then lay smaller twigs at a 90 degree angle to the larger twig. This will build a lean-to. Do not stack all the sticks in the same direction.  Some twigs will be running parallel with the large stick, others will be at 90 degrees to it. The fire needs to be able to grow, so be sure to leave space between the twigs so the fire can grow through them.

Strike the match and hold it to the bed. Imagine the fire “waking up” from the bed and eating breakfast. The small twigs are the first meal, larger sticks are lunch and supper.

As the fire grows, add slightly larger twigs, placing them at 90 degrees to each other.

Before long, you should have a nice campfire.

 

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