Fire building is an essential survival tool for a lot of folks, whether you are in the military, an outdoorsman, hunter, survivalist, or prepper, fire building is a core survival skill that you should be able to master. Remember, fire has and will always be what you may consider an essential tool for human survival. Now before we get started on anything else, it is important that you know the very basics of starting a fire and for that we will start with making a good tinder bundle.
A good tinder bundle is just as important as having a fire source such as a lighter, ferro rod, or just good old matches. If you already have a readily available fire source, the tinder bundle is the next thing you should be thinking about. The tinder bundle serves as your fuel source and is the key to making a bigger fire for cooking, warmth, or whatever purpose you may need it. A tinder bundle can usually be categorized into 1) grass like material, 2) tree bark, 3) others (any potentially flammable material, be creative and use your imagination).
When picking your tinder bundle from the 3 categories above, I want you to remember some very important things. First is the material should be flammable (this makes sense), and the next is that your tinder material should be absolutely dry. To get better quality tinder bundle materials, make sure not to get tinder material off the ground. Tinder material lying on the ground usually has some moisture in it and so is a poor choice. You can use your hands to feel for moisture or hold the material against your nose, if your tinder material feels cold against your nose, chances are it has plenty of moisture in it. Also, look for tinder material that has a lot of fine edges to it. Fine edges easily catch fire and are good for your tinder bundle.
When you have the tinder material ready, you can form it into something that looks like a birds nest with a center in it. When you bundle it up together, make sure that it is not too tight that air cannot circulate in it, or too loose that it falls apart. You can get some more tinder material such as dry grass, and break it and grind it up into smaller, finer materials with your hands, making a small mound or ball with it. You can place this in the middle of your birds nest tinder bundle to serve as your initial fuel to light the rest of the tinder bundle up.
When starting a fire, there are 3 things that you should consider. These would be your ignition source (ferro rod, lighter, or matches), fuel (tinder bundle), and oxygen. Simply put, you light up the tinder bundle with your ignition source, and then sustain that flame by supplying it with the right amount of air. Below are some very important tips that you will need to remember:
- Oxygen – Oxygen from the fire can come from the air around you, if that is not enough you can try blowing into the fire, or swinging it gently in the air. Remember, though that too much or too little of a good thing is bad for you. Too much air might either blow the fire out, or make it rage uncontrollably. Too little of it, and your fire eventually fizzles out.
- Fuel – All fuel must be absolute dry. Damp materials for tinder are hard to set on fire, or if you get lucky at setting them on fire, you will be hard pressed to sustain that fire. Fuel found in the ground usually have some amount of moisture in them and make a poor choice for tinder. When choosing materials for fuel, pick smaller and dry objects with a lot of fine edges that can easily “catch” fire.
- Ignition Source – Your ignition source can be a variety of things, it can be a ferro rod, lighter, or matches. (You should always have multiple ignition sources and backups for those too!)
Now that we have discussed the basics, we are going to talk about how to use those three essentials into starting a fire in the next topic. Remember, when practicing on how to start a fire, always practice it in a safe with no flammable materials lying about that can accidentally catch fire. Always have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher readily available just in case, after all it is practice and you are liable to make mistakes the first time around.
Read Part 2: Nurturing A Tinder Bundle Into Flame