How to Make Survival Fire

How to Make Survival FireIn a grim bit of math, fire can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. In a survival situation fire can help satisfy two primal needs - warmth and food. By itself, hot food spares the body from burning valuable calories that are used to manufacture body heat (see references 1). Fire can also be used to purify water or serve as a signal for possible rescue. Less tangibly (but importantly) fire provides a sense of comfort and protection. There are many ways to start a survival fire, but if traditional fire-making tools are not at hand, nature can often provide a solution.


Difficulty: Moderate

How to Make a Survival Fire

Things You’ll Need:
  • Dry wood (tinder, kindling and logs)
  • Fire-starter (fire plow)
  • Knife (or sharp rock)
Step 1
Find a location for your fire. This will be a place away from the wind and other elements. Materials -- kindling and dry wood - should be close at hand, but not to the extent that they may present a hazard. While creating a fire is your goal, starting a forest fire is not your intent. If possible, work next to a rock face or boulder. The object will serve as a windbreak and also reflect heat back at you.
Step 2
Gather plenty of dry tinder, kindling and logs. Moss and grass make for good tinder, while small twigs and bits of bark will serve as kindling. Always look for dry materials.
Step 3
Arrange your tinder and kindling into a tee-pee shape. The tinder will be in the center of the tee-pee the the kindling arranged over it. Make sure you have enough of both materials set aside to feed your fire.
Step 4
Create a fire-plow. The fire-plow will be your fire starter. Begin by locating two pieces of wood -- one that will serve as a shaft and a second that will serve as a base (the base should be a softer wood than the shaft). Using a knife or sharp rock, carve out a hollow groove the length of the base.
Step 5
Kneel directly beside the tinder and kindling tee-pee. Holding the base between your knees, rub the end of the shaft vigorously along the hollow groove of the base. The friction will cause the wood fibers in the softer base to ignite.
Step 6
Add tinder to the ignited fibers, and use your shaft to gently push the lighted materials beneath the tinder and kindling tee-pee. Continue to add tinder into the tee-pee to stoke the flame.
Step 7
Add kindling as the flame continues to grow. Finally begin adding logs to the flames. Start off with smaller logs, which are less likely to smother the fire.

Article Written By Matthew Ferguson

Matthew Ferguson is a writer living in Savannah, Ga. He has been writing for over 10 years and his work has appeared on various online publications. A collection of his short stories was published in spring 2010. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University.

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