Five Minute Fire

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

  • A fire can be key to your survival.
    Photo by Pixabay/Alexas_Fotos
  • An illustration of kindling over a bird's nest.
    Courtesy Adams Media
  • “Bushcraft First Aid” by Dave Canterbury and Jason A. Hunt provides first-aid and survival tips necessary for any outdoorsperson.
    Cover courtesy Adams Media

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.

Building A Bird's Nest

The first step is to create a “bird’s nest” with these materials. Your sure-fire device is the “egg” in the center. The size of the nest will vary depending on your experience level, but for true emergency situations such as survival or WFA, remember, “As big as your head, or your fire is dead.” This means you want a bird’s nest as big as your face to give your sure-fire the best conditions possible to create a decent flame capable of combusting your kindling.

12/25/2017 7:32:17 PM

Very true, you should have good dry tinder & kindling. Sassafras twigs work well either dry or green.

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