How to Start a Fire

How to Start a FireThere are many ways to start a fire. Flint and steel takes more time and skill than you might have if you are faced with an immediate need for warmth. Using string and twig sounds great in theory, but it is also not a method to rely on when time is crucial. Carry a lighter, magnifying lens or a waterproof container with strike-anywhere matches whenever you hike, climb or paddle, and you will always have a reliable source of quick heat.


Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Lighter, matches or magnifying lens
  • Dry starter such as paper, pine needles, bark, straw or dry grass
  • Dry wood shavings
  • Kindling (less than 1/8-inch diameter twigs)
  • Dry build-up wood (1/8-inch diameter to 1-inch diameter)
  • Dry firewood (1-inch to 3-inch diameter)
  • Dry logs (3-inch or larger diameter, up to 2-feet long)
Step 1
Clear an area for your fire, including a fire break that is at least 3 feet larger in radius than your fire ring.
Step 2
Gather firewood. Place your largest piece of firewood to one side of where you want the fire to start, so that it is aligned with any prevailing wind.
Step 3
Make a lean-to of kindling against the large piece of firewood, using the smallest-diameter pieces first. Leave some airspace between the twigs. Add larger twigs and sticks.
Step 4
Place your starter material inside the upwind side of the twig lean-to. Fluff it up and get it under your kindling.
Step 5
Use your lighter or matches to ignite the starter material. If you do not have a lighter or matches, use a magnifying lens. You can improvise a magnifying lens by using a pair of glasses or a piece of broken glass. Wrap the broken glass in a folded piece of cardboard or paper, if available, to avoid cuts. Once your starter material spreads flame to your kindling, blow gently at the base of the fire until the larger material flames.

Article Written By Jane Smith

Jane Smith has provided educational support, served people with multiple challenges, managed up to nine employees and 86 independent contractors at a time, rescued animals, designed and repaired household items and completed a three-year metalworking apprenticeship. Smith's book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in 2008. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995.

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