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Fire Starters

Wednesday, 06 February 2013 00:00 Written by  Craig Caudill

The ability to start a fire can be the difference between a comfortable night in the woods and a survival situation. In first responder parlance, it may be the difference between a rescue and a recovery operation — as in dead body recovery. Knowing how and having the ability to start a fire is an imperative and essential skill.

Gathering around a fire at night is one of the most basic human activities; it even defines our species. A fire provides warmth to stave off hypothermia, a means to cook our food and boil water to make it safe for drinking, and provide a signal to rescue parties. Finally, just sitting next to a warm fire gives humans a secure and hopeful feeling, which is invaluable in a survival or bug-out situation.

Make it a goal to learn as many different fire starting techniques as possible. This will give you the confidence to start a fire under any condition. There are several ways and tools to start your very important fire. Here are some of the most common:

Matches - Matches are one of the first ways that people think of when considering fire starting methods.  The benefits of using matches is that under good conditions they light pretty easily.  Under conditions that are not good they can be frustrating.  Wind and any type of moisture can cause a problem for matches.  If you want to carry some, then make sure they are in a waterproof container and the conditions are right to use them.  

Butane lighters - While lighters are incredibly reliable and great for starting fires, they can fail. However, they are cheap enough that you can afford to carry more than one.  Please note that problem can occur if a lighter gets excessively wet or it is excessively cold.  If you keep one or more close to you (in a pocket) then they should work under most conditions.

Flint and steel fire starters - This is a primitive but very effective fire starter.   There are many variations of these kind of starters on the market today. Along with your matches and lighter, having one of these fire starters is a welcome addition to both your backpack and peace of mind in case the other methods fail.  Another portion of this fire making puzzle is char cloth, which is how native peoples and particularly frontiersman in this country made this work so easily.

Ferro rods - This is a modern way of starting a fire. Ferro rods are made of the metal ferrocerium which is a modern metal that sparks. If you like the idea of a ferro rod for starting your fire, get to know how to use a ferro rod before you actually need it.

You can use each of these methods to start a fire. Each tool is different than the other, yet each are designed to produce the same result — the warmth and security of a hot fire. What is just as vitally important as having one or more of these tools on your person at all times is to know how to use each. While a match will produce a flame and the steel and flint starters and ferro rods will produce sparks, you need to know how to use the flame and sparks to actually start your fire. Finding yourself in a survival situation of any type is not the time to have to figure out the “how to.” As with any other skill, survival or otherwise, practice using each of these tools until you know how to use them effectively to get your fire started.

Author Description: Craig Caudill believes that you should always have and know how to use at least two types of fire starters. When Craig is not playing with fire he can be found sharing his outdoor skills at Dan’s Depot or teaching survival skills at the Nature Reliance School.

Last modified on Monday, 04 February 2013 23:03
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