In most survival situations the ability to start a fire can save your life.
Jump Down To Fire Starting Methods
Learn to make various kinds of torches here! Torches
BASIC FIRE PRINCIPLES
To make a fire, it helps to understand the basic principles of a fire.
Fuel in the form of wood does not burn directly. When you apply
heat to a fuel (wood) it eventually produces a gas. It is this gas that actually burns and not the solid fuel from which it originated. This gas is very hot and when it meets oxygen (air) it burns.
To have fire you must have three things. Fuel, heat and oxygen. The easiest to get is the oxygen as it is in the air around us. Fuel is second as usually there is fuel available anywhere there are trees or brush. It is the heat part that can be the gotcha in a survival situation but we will get to that later. First lets look at where to build the fire.
SITE SELECTION AND PREPARATION
The area (terrain and climate) in which you located.
The materials and tools available.
How much time you have?
Why you need a fire?
Security, how near or other potentially unfriendly people.
Look for a dry spot.
A spot protected from the wind.
Location of shelter in relation to fire.
Is wood or other fuel available close by?
Clear surrounding leaf litter etc to prevent fire from spreading.
Wet porous rock may explode when heated.
In some situations, you may find that an underground fireplace will best
meet your needs. It conceals the fire and serves well for cooking food.
Simply dig a hole for your fire material. On the upwind side of this hole dig a large connecting hole
If you are in a snow covered area, use green logs to make a dry base for
your fire and don't built a fire directly beneath overhanging limbs with snow on them.
FIRE MATERIAL SELECTION
You need three types of materials to build a fire, tinder, kindling, and fuel.
Tinder is dry material that ignites with little heat only a spark.
The tinder must be absolutely dry to be sure just a spark will ignite it.
Kindling is easily ignitable material (twigs/bark) that you add to the burning
tinder. This material should be dry to ensure rapid
burning. Kindling increases the fire's temperature so that it will ignite
less combustible material.
Fuel is less combustible material that burns slowly and steadily once
ignited. Usually bigger material... you know firewood.
HOW TO BUILD A FIRE
OK now that you have all site selected and all of the materials needer lets talk about how to actually arrange the wood for your fire. There are several different methods for laying a fire, each of which has advantages.
To make the tepee fire, arrange the tinder and a few sticks of
kindling in the shape of an Indian tepee. Light the center. As the tepee
burns, the outside logs will fall inward, feeding the fire. This type of fire
burns well even with wet wood.
To use this method, scratch a cross in the ground. Dig the cross an inch or so deep. Put some tinder in the middle of the cross. Build a kindling pyramid above the
tinder. The shallow ditch allows air to flow under the tinder to provide
To build this fire, place two small logs or branches parallel on
the ground. Then place a solid layer of small logs across the parallel logs forming a low platform. Add three or four more layers of logs or branches, each layer smaller than
and at a across the layer below. Make a starter fire on top of
the pyramid. As the starter fire burns, it will ignite the logs below it.
The pyramid fire advantage is that it will burn for a long time without any attention from you in the form of adding more wood to the fire.
HOW TO LIGHT A FIRE
Always light your fire on the upwind side. Make sure to lay your tinder,
kindling, and fuel so that your fire will burn as long as you need it.
Modem igniter's use modem devices, items we normally think of to
start a fire.
Make sure these matches are waterproof. Also, store them in a waterproof
container along with a dependable striker pad.
Only effective on bright sunny days. The lens can
come from a magnifying glass, binoculars, camera, telescopic sights etc.
Angle the lens to concentrate the sun's rays on the tinder. Hold the lens
over the same spot until the tinder begins to smoke. Softly blow on the tinder and apply it to the fire lay. You can even use a block of ice formed into a lens to start a fire when you have no lenses available.
Place a flat, dry leaf under your tinder with a portion exposed. Place the
tip of the metal match on the dry leaf, holding the metal match in one
hand and a knife in the other. Scrape your knife against the metal match
to produce sparks. The sparks will hit the tinder. When the tinder starts
to smolder, proceed as above.
You can use a car battery to generate a spark. Attach a wire to each terminal. Touch the ends of the bare wires together next to the tinder so the sparks will ignite it.
Often, you will have ammunition with you. The powder in ammo can be extracted from the shell casing, and use the gunpowder as tinder. Any spark will ignite the powder. Be extremely careful when extracting the bullet from the case.
Primitive igniter's are those attributed to our early ancestors. These methods aren't easy and you should practice these techniques now. Learning in a survival situation is not ideal. Remember it isn't going to happen quickly and as soon as you stop to study where you are in the process means you must start over. So don't stop until you have succeeded and don't start until you are ready to give it a real go.
The fire-plow is a friction method of ignition. You rub a
hardwood shaft against a softer wood base. The plowing actions friction ignites the wood particles.
Bow and Drill
The Bow Drill method of starting a fire as the name implies utilizes a small bow and drill to start a friction fire.
but you must exert much effort and be persistent to produce a fire.
Pump Fire Drill
The Pump Fire Drill is an improved... much improved friction fire making method. It is an upgrade much glamorized stick and fire board method that tends to destroy your hands as you unsuccessfully try to start a fire! This Pump Fire Drill is very useful and serves other purposes beside just starting a fire.
Fire From Ice
Yes you can even make fire from ice! You have to take this ice chunk and shape it either by melting or chipping into a lens. Then...
How to make Charcoal! Easy to make and very nice to have available.