Building a fire is one of the most essential survival skills. It has a lot of different applications.

  • It can boil water to make it safe to drink.
  • You can also use it to prepare your food.
  • It makes a great signal, the smoke is visible during the day.
  • The light is visible at night.
  • And you can also smell the smoke from a long distance away.
  • You can use it to harden wood.
  • To better your tools.
  • It also has first aid and hygiene applications.

In this field guide you’ll learn 3 different methods to set up a fire and the components you need to maximize your success.

Let’s talk about what type of materials we’re going to need to make our fire.

BASIC MATERIALS:

We have three basic categories of material we’re going to be talking about.

  • Tinder – anything that takes a spark. It can be natural, it can be manmade.  It needs to be something that’s fluffy
  • Kindling – anything that burns quickly, and it’s going to burn long enough to catch your fuel on fire. When you think of your kindling, you remember three things. You remember matchsticks, pencils, markers. Those are the three sized kindling that you’re going to use.
  • Fuel – something that’s more slow burning. You’re looking for anything that’s basically the size of your wrist or larger.

Now that we’ve got all that gathered it up, and we’ve separated it into piles. We know what we’re working with, and it’s easy to find.

You need to have everything prepared before you ever throw that first spark.

The best advice that I can give you about gathering your materials. One, make sure you gather it before you ever throw a spark. And two, when you think have enough, you need five times more.

Each of these methods of laying a fire, has its advantages. We’ll talk about those as we’re building them.

THE TEEPEE FIRE METHOD

STEP 1: START WITH LARGER KINDLING

To construct a Teepee fire, or the Cone fire as called in some places, all we’re going to do is, take our larger kindling and construct a teepee with it.

It doesn’t have to be fancy, doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to stand up.

STEP 2: CONTINUE ADDING KINDLING UNTIL ESTABLISHED

Once that gets established, it’s a lot easier to just throw them up on there without knocking the whole thing down.

Keep using the largest size, “Magic Marker” size, kindling for this. Because the smaller kindling as well as the tinder, is going to go in the middle.

That’s going to burn long enough to get these outer portions of the teepee going. Then, as that gets going, we get more of a basic coals, we can start adding my larger fuel and that will get me through the day or through the night.

One of the great things about this fire, and this method of laying a fire is, it works really well whenever it’s wet. The reason is, as long as your tinder is dry or if it’ll actually still work when it’s wet. All the kindling on the outside, is going to start drying out. And as it dries out and heats up, it’s going to fall towards the inside, and it basically is a self-feeding fire at that point.

STEP 3: LEAVE OPENING

And as you can, we purposefully left an opening over in front of the teepee.

This is where you would add tinder and smaller matchstick size kindling and then eventually, the pencil size kindling so that, you can get the fire going.

That is the Teepee fire lay method (also known as cone fire).

THE LEAN-TO METHOD

STEP 1: FIND A LONG STICK, APPROXIMATELY 3FT

For the Lean-To method, you will need to take a long stick (approximately 3 ft) to drive it into the ground.

STEP 2: POINT STICK TOWARDS WIND

As you drive the stick in the ground make sure it is face the direction the wind is coming from.

On days where there’s not much wind, it’s not going a big difference. But if you can tell which way the wind is going, you want to put the tip of stick towards the wind. That way the wind is feeding your fire.

STEP 3: LAYING KINDLING

Once the main stick is in the ground, you can start laying the marker size kindling on in it.

This is another great technique for if it’s wet outside because, that marker size, larger kindling is going to be on the outside and as it dries, it’s going to fall towards the inside and feed your fire.

Continue adding kindling along each side of the main stick

Once you’ve added kinding on both sides along the main supporting stick, your lean to is ready to be lit

THE LOG CABIN METHOD

Note: for this method we will go thru the end and light the fire. The steps to light the fire are almost identical for all three methods

The next technique that I’m going to show you is the Log Cabin technique for laying a fire.

This is very similar to another method called the “Pyramid technique”.

STEP 1: PLACE FUEL AT THE BOTTOM

In the log cabin method you put the fuel on the bottom and work your way up in size as far as kindling on top.

STEP 2: WORK YOUR WAY UP

Work your way up, in a square pattern and use the larger pieces of the matchstick sized kindling.

You don’t want to build this too high in the beginning because, you’re going to use this center as the place to put the actual tinder and the match sized kindling.

STEP 3: PREPARE YOUR TINDER BUNDLE

This part has several steps to get a tinder bundle ready.

THE FIRE TAB

Next step is to prepare your fire tab.

To do this you want to start fluffin’ up one end of it. Leave the other part together because that burns like a piece of kindling.

You want to get enough surface area and enough fluff for it to actually, catch a spark. Basically, trying to turn it into like, a cotton ball.

THE TINDER

Once that’s ready wrap up a pile of leaves and bark.. This is going to be my tinder bundle.

THE SET UP

Set your tinder bundle next to where your fire lay is. Create an opening in the bundle.

Take the fire tab and put it inside the bundle. That’s what you’re going to throw sparks into.

STEP 4: THE SPARK

Now, this is where it becomes very important to pull your ferro rod away from the tinder bundle, rather than push your striker towards because, you don’t want to knock it out of the way.

If you see a spark starting to catch the material, gently blow on the bundle to provide air

STEP 5: PLACE TINDER INSIDE FIRE LAY

Carefully place the lit tinder bundle in the center of the log cabin fire lay.

STEP 6: ADD MATCHSTICK SIZED KINDLING

You don’t want to smother the fire, you want to give it a little bit of time to get going.

STEP 7: ADD PENCIL SIZED KINDLING

Once that’s going, start adding some pencil size, in the middle of the fire.

STEP 8: ADD MARKER SIZED KINDLING

Take the marker size and just throw it right on top. Make sure there’s air that can get through.

And there you have it. Survival fire in just a couple of minutes.

All these method are excellent methods to set up your fire. Make sure you go out a practice and figure out which one is your favorite.

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