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Bushcraft & Survival: Building a Fire

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

Building a fire in the wilderness is arguably one of the most important skills to learn, especially for survival situations. With the right tools and knowledge, you can start a fire that can provide warmth, light, and a way to cook food. Here are some steps you can follow to build a fire for survival in the wilderness:

  1. Gather materials: You'll need some dry, combustible material to use as tinder, such as leaves, grass, or dry bark. You'll also need some small sticks and twigs for kindling, and larger sticks and branches for fuel. Make sure to gather enough material to keep the fire going for at least a few hours.

  2. Choose a location: Look for a spot that is sheltered from the wind and rain, and is at least 15 feet away from any flammable objects. Clear the area of any debris, and dig a shallow pit if necessary.

  3. Make a fire lay: There are several different fire lay configurations you can use, but a common one is the teepee lay. To make a teepee lay, start by placing your tinder in the center of your fire lay. Then, arrange your kindling around the tinder in the shape of a teepee, with the larger sticks forming the frame and the smaller sticks filling in the gaps. Here are some guidelines for the size of sticks you should use:

    • In general, it's best to start with smaller sticks and gradually add larger ones as the fire becomes more established. This will help the fire catch and spread more easily, and will also make it easier to control the heat and intensity of the fire. Just be sure to have a good supply of all three types of material (tinder, kindling, and fuel) on hand so you can keep the fire going as long as you need it.

    • Tinder: Tinder is the smallest and most combustible material you'll use in your fire lay. It should be dry and easy to ignite, such as leaves, grass, or dry bark.

    • Kindling: Kindling is slightly larger than tinder and is used to help the fire catch and spread. It should be small sticks and twigs that are less than an inch in diameter.

    • Fuel: Fuel is the largest material you'll use in your fire lay and is used to sustain the fire over a longer period of time. It should be sticks and branches that are at least an inch in diameter.

  4. Start the fire: There are several different ways to start a fire, but the most common method is using a fire starter, such as a lighter or matches. If you don't have a fire starter, you can try using a fire bow or fire plow. To use a fire bow, you'll need a bow, a string, and a fireboard. To use a fire plow, you'll need a fireboard and a spindle.

  5. Keep the fire going: Once your fire is started, add more fuel as needed to keep it going. You can use a bellows to blow air into the fire to increase the oxygen flow and help it burn more efficiently.

By following these steps, you should be able to build a fire for survival in the wilderness. There are several different techniques, so get out and practice to see which is best for you. Just remember to always be cautious when building a fire, and never leave it unattended.

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