Fail-Proof Methods to Make Fire

From bow drill to fire plow and magnesium fire starters, equip yourself with the knowledge necessary to make fire in any circumstance.

  • A burning campfire in forest
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  • Modern tools and technology make it easy to start a fire.
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  • Knowing how to start a fire is essential if you plan on camping.
    Photo by Londie G. Padelsky
  • Tinder, such as pine needles, are good for starting fires.
    Photo by
  • A fire bow drill is a primitive method of making fire while surviving in the outdoors.
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  • A bushcraft fire is a type of wood fire often used by woodcrafters.
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  • Emergency road flares can start fires, even in the rain.
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When humans first learned to create fire, that moment forever changed us: We rose above mere survival. We kept cold weather and predators at bay, cooked diverse and tasty foods, shaped tools and weapons, and thus we progressed. Our very lives have been shaped and transformed by fire and its myriad uses, even to the present day.

Whenever outdoors, fire-making is a crucial skill to have. I personally learned that making a fire on my first attempt kept me alive when things really went haywire. It was literally do or die — and I lived to tell my tale.

Today, we have an array of tools and gadgets that can help us outdoors. They are useful tools, but they are only tools. We do ourselves a disservice if we become so reliant on mechanical means that we are ignorant of fire-making basics with limited technology. So, here’s a tutorial on fire-making: from the very simple — some might say primitive — to the more complex. Let’s start from square one and go from there.

Essentials of Fire Making

As elementary as it seems, a fire must have three components working together: heat, fuel, and oxygen. Take away any of these, and you won’t have a fire. By working in harmony, they provide warmth, comfort, illumination, and may in fact be lifesaving. Let’s examine some basics, and then look at some very simple, yet effective fire-making methods.

Make certain everything is ready before the fire is attempted. Take the time to do it right rather than do it again; you might not get a second chance.

Reliable tinder is the first step. It is any flammable, finely divided material that holds a spark or flame long enough to ignite larger materials. Some examples of tinder are: cattail down; dried grasses; dry inner bark from standing dead trees; and the bark from certain trees such as sagebrush, juniper, and birch.

12/18/2017 8:52:41 PM

I didn't know about steel wool! (Will it not ignite with a match/lighter?) And I never thought of a highway flare! So glad I read this. I haven't had reason to start a fire in years but a person never knows when the need for old skills will arise!

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