Five Minute Fire

Make a fire in under five minutes with this easy guide.

| November 2017


A fire can be key to your survival.

Photo by Pixabay/Alexas_Fotos

Bushcraft First Aid: A Field Guide to Wilderness Emergency Care by Dave Canterbury and Jason A. Hunt (Adams Media, 2017) prepares readers for the outdoors with first-aid and survival tips. In this section, the authors share how to make a fire in just five minutes.

Fire can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. Weather conditions will affect fire-making, and being able to produce a sustainable fire with marginal materials in a variety of weather conditions is an important skill.

The Sure-Fire Fire Starter

We recommend that you carry a “sure-fire” fire-starting product such as Mini Inferno or Micro Inferno. Natural sure-fire tinders include pine-resin-laden fatwoods and birch barks. Even if they’re wet, these kinds of tinders will burn and help you get a fire going, even if some of the firewood and kindling is damp.

We also recommend that you carry several methods of sparking a fire. The traditional cigarette lighter will fail in extremely cold or wet and windy conditions, but a ferrocerium rod, which is made of various mischmetals (an alloy of rare earth metals) and magnesium, will provide thousands of strikes in any weather condition with a shower of sparks as hot as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Your objective for WFA and survival purposes is to be able to create a sustainable fire in five minutes or less. A sustainable fire is a fire that is burning fuel of at least 1" in diameter, which means you can walk away for a moment and not fear the fire suddenly going out. There are many reasons you want to be able to make a fire within five minutes, but the most common is for hypothermia prevention. The longer it takes to make the fire in hypothermic conditions, the harder it will be to make, as your body will begin to shut down. That also means potentially crucial time will be lost before you can rewarm frostbitten extremities and drink water, which may need to be boiled first.

Tinder Selection

Tinder selection is important when it comes to making a fire quickly. Tinder is not your “sure-fire”; it is a means to effect surefire. Ideally tinder is dry natural material from the surrounding landscape. Cedar bark, fibrous plants, tall dead grasses, pine needles, and wood shavings are all viable options. Kindling is comprised of sticks ranging in size from the diameter of pencil lead up to about 1" thick. This is the material you will use to create fast, intense heat to combust your fuel sticks. The amount of kindling you collect should be about the size of a basketball, a pile you could carry under your arm.

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