Wilderness Survival Fire Making

Wilderness Survival Fire MakingThe ability to build a fire is an important wilderness survival skill. Fires serve several purposes: They can be used for cooking and purifying water, as a source of warmth and as a means of signaling potential rescuers. Plus, a fire can do wonders for boosting the morale of a hiker who is lost or otherwise stranded in the wilderness. In deference to Murphy's Law, hikers should always carry at least three types of igniters, such as waterproof matches, butane lighters and what's known as a metal match, in case they need to build a fire.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need:
  • Waterproof matches
  • Butane lighter
  • Steel match
  • Convex lens
Step 1
Gather an ample supply of kindling and firewood. For the best results, both the kindling and wood should be dry. Pine needles, twigs, leaves and dead vines work well for kindling. You'll want a variety of firewood ranging from small sticks to good-sized logs.
Step 2
Find a level clearing to build a fire. Form a fire ring out of stones, which will retain and give off heat as the evening wears on. You can also stack firewood on the opposite side of the fire from where you will be sitting or sleeping. This will help reflect heat into your campsite and dry out any damp wood.
Step 3
Make a small pile of kindling in the middle of the fire ring. Have a stack of small sticks ready to add to the pile.
Step 4
Ignite the kindling. Light the pile in multiple locations if you are using matches or a lighter. If you are using a metal match such as a product known as FireSteel that is made of ferrous metals, place a dry leaf partially under the kindling. Put the metal match's tip on the exposed portion of the leaf. While holding the metal with one hand, scrape a knife against it. This should create sparks that will light the leaf.
Step 5
Fan or blow on the kindling as soon as you see the first wisps of smoke. Once flames appear, carefully add twigs and small sticks. Once the fire is burning, add more wood as needed.

Tips & Warnings

A convex lens also can be used to ignite a fire if there is bright sunlight. Angle the lens from a magnifying glass, binoculars, camera or even reading glasses so that it concentrates the sun's rays on a pile of kindling. Be patient--this process can take up to an hour to generate enough heat to start a fire.
Don't be responsible for causing a forest fire. Remember to completely extinguish your fire before leaving the campsite.

Article Written By Kirk Brown

Kirk Brown is an award-winning freelance writer with two decades of diverse media experience. A former newspaper reporter and editor, he also was managing editor of an acclaimed scuba diving magazine. Brown has written scripts for more than 50 half-hour TV programs focusing on technology and health topics.

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