If you camp, cook out, or just have a backyard fire pit, you likely understand the deep, almost primal satisfaction you get from creating fire where there was none before. Fire is a part of our species’ survival from the earliest points in our history, and a critical component of outdoor survival. In a prior article, the science of fire was discussed, so we won’t be getting too technical here. Suffice it to say that if you have sufficient and ready amounts of the items in the fire triangle, it’s time to light it up. You can review that article here.
If you grew up camping, odds are your Dad or Grandpa used the easiest means possible to start the camp or cooking fire. More often than not that probably meant a Bic or Zippo and very likely too much lighter fluid or fuel of some sort. I grew up on a farm, we often lit up our brush piles with a good dousing of diesel and wooden matches from the glovebox of the pickup truck.
It worked. It was often pretty impressive, to boot.
The thing is, then and now, it’s rarely a challenge to get things burning.
In today’s outdoor enthusiast world, we learn, build and practice our outdoor skills. We put many of these skills in to neat compartments we call wilderness skills, bushcraft or something similar. In our reality, the necessity of survival based on our ability to create fire is very minimal, and the ease of which we can start a fire with a lighter or matches makes it pretty mundane.
Don’t get me wrong – in a survival or “prepared to survive” situation, you WANT that Bic, your Zippo and some good waterproof matches. Any or all of those take up so little room, they need to always be part of your outdoors kit. In a true survival situation, quick, simple effective and easy is always the first choice. Keep one or all of them in your pack. We will proceed assuming you’re not lost in the woods in January with 10% battery on your cell and the sun going down while reading this.
So why not have fun when we need to make fire recreationally? Why not learn the skills our ancestors of not that long ago needed to ensure their comfort and survival? In this series, we will look at a few different factors and ways to increase your fire starting skills and satisfaction.
First things first, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Go start a nice little campfire or cooking fire with your Bic, some matches, or that super fancy custom Zippo. Then put them in your go bag or hiking kit. Two is one…
We will wait, and when you come back, we will talk about a couple different ways you can get that fire burning. Namely, we will be speaking to three topics:
– Fire steel – some firesteel tips, and why that two buck gas station fire steel is glued to a little block of metal.
– Good old fashioned flint and steel strikers.
– Putting it all together and helping it start: Tricks and tinders – Fatwood, char cloth, cotton balls and such.
Oh – and it goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: If you start a fire for whatever reason or need, keep it only as large as you need to do what you ned it to do, keep it under control, and put it out completely when you’re done or leaving. Don’t be that guy.
See you back here soon. Go enjoy that fire you just started!