Making fire is one of the most important survival skills anyone can acquire; it is also one of the most misunderstood. Fire not only warms us and cooks our food. But, fire does much more than that, it also helps keep predators away from our campsites, purifies our drinking water, and helps boost our morale. In a true do-or-die survival situation, a good, safe, toasty warm fire can keep your spirits up and give you the boost you need to clearly think things through. But, how do we start a good fire in adverse conditions? Ah, therein lies the rub!
Let’s consider what is necessary for fire to occur: Heat (sparks), Fuel (something to burn), and Oxygen (don’t usually have to work for this one). If anyone of these things are absent fire will not happen, but the good news is we can always ensure that we can start our fires when and where needed. We can obtain our necessary heat from a variety of sources:
- Matches (windproof, waterproof, or regular kitchen matches)
- Fire strikers (flint and steel, ferro-cerrium fire strikers, etc.)
- Electrical (car battery, boat battery, cell phone battery, etc.)
- Mechanical (fire bow drill, fire stick, etc.)
- Chemical (glycerin and potassium permanganate)
Next, let’s consider something to burn, or fuel. Our fuel can be comprised of:
- Wood (swigs, sticks, logs, bark, etc.)
- Dryer lint (coated in wax, or some petroleum jelly worked in usually does a good job)
- Cotton balls (a small amount of petroleum jelly worked into a bit of cotton ball works great)
- Char cloth (catches and holds a spark very efficiently)
- Almost anything that is combustible, or will catch and hold a spark producing flame
Lastly, let’s talk about oxygen. It seems that we wouldn’t have to give this one much thought, but depending upon the situation we might need to give it alot of thought! Too much oxygen can make it extremely difficult to get your fire going; too little can make it almost impossible. In a driving wind the survivor needs to direct his firemaking attempts to leeward (or, the opposite direction the wind is blowing from). When using a field expedient fire bow drill, once the wood dust is smoldering, the survivor needs to gently fan the dust pile to ensure that a fire producing coal is formed.
Visit our Survival Store for a great selection of fire starters and tinders that you can count on in any conditions!
Do-or-die survival situations can occur in blizzards, pouring rain, sub-zero temperatures, stifling heat- or an automobile breakdown or flat tire in a remote area, in mild weather… In short, you can be thrust into a real life survival situation anytime, anywhere. Each of these environments provides their own unique set of both general survival challenges and fire starting starting challenges.
In the coming weeks, we’ll examine, via article posts and YouTube videos, the best, most efficient ways to get our fires going safely, and efficiently.
Until then, God bless.