The Importance of Making a Fire For Survival

a camp fire

I may sound a bit cliché  but a fire is your guiding light in the wilderness and a whole lot more. If you can’t cook your food, keep yourself warm, illuminate your way in the darkness and put up a bright and visible distress beacon, you do not stand a chance against the unpredictable elements of the wild. Having the ability to build a fire also means you can kill bacteria in water to make it safer for drinking.

Once you understand the basics of starting a fire even without the aid of a lighter or matches, you can go about your tasks more efficiently.

First-timers and casual hikers are often at a loss in sorting out good from bad fuels in making a fire as they waste valuable resources and time in desperation. First and foremost, choose a site or location that is sheltered from too much wind and is close to sources of tinder and firewood.

Clear the area of other debris and anything else that can catch fire as you have to keep it proportional to your needs and far from getting out of control. You can put stones and large rocks to set the borders of your fire and keep it from spreading.

Setting your fire on a flat share rock can keep it at a good temperature. If you do not want your trail to be spotted, setting your fire on a flat rock surface will leave little evidence if you sweep it afterwards, and this will help you avoid robbers in the night.

There are three types of fire material from small to large as you increase in size as the fire grows, and these are:

1)   Tinder

You will need fire material that ignites easily to start with. Good tinder is composed of dry leaves, twigs, newspaper, bark and resin that can burn quickly with the smallest sparks. You can use a knife to scrape twigs and branches into powdery tinder for easier utilization. Collect tinder long before you need to use it as you go along your trail since you may not foresee that you will be in an area without sufficient tinder and store it in a dry and sealed container.

2)   Kindling

Once the tinder is ignited, you can add slightly bigger material that can burn for longer. Kindling is composed of dry twigs and branches and you can easily find it along the undersides of trees. For larger branches, cut them into smaller pieces as big as your finger.

3)   Fuel

When the fire is stable, you can add larger pieces of firewood that can help your fire grow bigger while lasting longer and needing only additional fuel for maintenance. Use only the driest material you can find as wood from dead trees serve as the best fuel, yet you should be careful to check if it may be wet around the edges.

Pay attention to how you stack fuel to ensure efficient resource management and get the most out of your fire. There are stacking models available online if you care enough to look around, and it can heighten the aesthetic value of the experience of a campfire, if you have time to entertain yourselves in a survival situation. Some people set the tinder in the middle of a square pattern of fuel while others make a round of fuel with kindling and tinder inside. Go with what works for you. No matter what happens, put out your campfire when you leave your site as you may start a forest fire or leave the wrong signal for other people. Be sure to check it out twice before you leave, not allowing a single ember to stay alight before you create an incident for the evening news.

A fire rekindles the spirits of your companions and sets hope for the days ahead. It provides both entertainment and security as you need to take a breather from the stress of having to take care of people and situations yet keep their minds at ease. It does not take too much guesswork to find the right wood for a fire, yet without this skill set, you might find yourself on wet ground and in the dark. The woods provide only this security: it allows for more than enough wood for you to live by.

In our next article we discover How To Look At The Clouds To Detect The Weather