When you are trying to survive it is hard to keep up your spirit. Fire on the other hand tends to be that one thing in all survival situations that keeps the spirit alive. Fire tends to have the ability make you feel better no matter what. With it you can cook, stay warm, ward off predators, purify water, cauterize wounds, build, clear out brush, and signal for rescue. It is a amazingly useful and equally dangerous thing to control.
Luckily we can not only learn to create fire but also harness its wonderful power. Creating this powerful part of life however is quite difficult. There are 3 different ways to create fire: hypergolic, friction, and focusing. Though very different in style, each method requires the three basics of fire (1) Oxygen, (2) Fuel (3) Ignition.
Hypergolic fires are created from two chemicals that once are together will begin to react together and ignite by themselves. It is a useful fire to have especially in wet environments such as the jungle. The greatest advantage to this type of fire is that you do not need completely dry material to start a fire because the chemicals will continue to burn until both chemicals are burned out. For safety reasons I will not tell you which chemicals you can buy are hypergolic, for obvious reasons. If you would like to know more about hypergolic fuels take a survival class under supervision of a professional. These fuels are dangerous and should be used unless you are a professional. By the way because hypergolic fuels are a chemical reaction water makes it react faster so never try to put it out with water.
Friction fires are usually the most common through out history to create. Whether you use two sticks or a flint stone, friction fires require the use of very dry tinder because the tinder will be catching a spark or ember from the tools you choose to use. Using sticks to start a fire is tricky and will require some work. In time I will show how to create fire from sticks and flint stone, but for our purposes we shall let the Discovery Channel be our guide. I highly recommend lessons from Cody Lundin. He is the master of primitive fire techniques. I hold his expertise in high regard and hope you check out his website and maybe enroll in one of his classes. It is well worth the time.
Focusing for fire creation is by far the most difficult. It requires a convex lens of some sort and most importantly requires the sun. Using the sun to create fire again only works with dry tinder but also best works closer to the equator and a high noon. I have never used this technique but I have seen it done. It requires the most time and is not guaranteed to work. It is possible to use but I am not a big fan.
It doesn’t matter how you choose to create fire, the most important thing to remember about creating fire is to have some fuel that is dry. Whether you are using a lighter, a match, or two sticks, if you do not have some dry material to start with you will not have fire. Dry material is most important when starting to create fire. Once you have located some small dry material you need to break it up in very fine material. This is called tinder. Tinder is the very fine soft material that will catch a flame very easily. Examples of tinder are cotton balls, dryer lint, dry grass, and dry leaves. This material is should be bunched together much like a bird nest.
The second step in building a fire is to gather your kindling. Kindling is small sticks and twigs that are thicker than that of tinder, but small than logs. Begin setting up the kindling around the birds nest or tinder box that way once the tinder is done burning the kindling will ignite and start burning.
The third step can sometimes be the hardest because you have to find logs that are semi dry. If the outside of the log is not dry then it will not light and therefore your fire will die. The logs or bigger fuel you choose is the actual heart of the fire because once it lights then you simply only need to add more fuel to keep your fire going.
Now that you know how to make a fire, there are different constructions of fires that allow for different uses. The most common fire is know as the pyramid fire or log cabin fire. Its most common use is for cooking. The structure of this fire allows for an even heating throughout the fire. It is constructed by creating logs in one direction and then the next row turn 90 degrees and create a box like shape.
Another type of fire construction is called the Tee-Pee Fire. The Tee-Pee fire is a fire built to shape like a Tee-Pee. The conical shape of the fire produces a lot of heat but pushes the smoke upwards. This style is great for signaling and creating fires in confined spaces such as Tee-Pees.
Another type of fire is called the X-Fire or the Pit Fire. This type of fire is perfect for creating tools. It is made by digging a trench and building the fire in the trench. It is known as the X-Fire because it can also be created to signal for help. You can dig twp trenches crossing each other to create an X. The X is a universal signal for help here.
The final type of fire we will discuss is called the Dakota Pit Fire. It was developed by the Native Americans to be able to cook and create fire in a very windy area such as the Great Plains of the west. It is created by digging a hole and then a shaft to allow air into the bottom of the fire for oxygen. It is a great way to build a fire in situations there are not hospitable.
Fire can be a great boost to morale in any situation. In survival situations creating fire might even make you stand up and dance like Tom Hanks in Castaway.
Remember folks, Prepare and Survive Todd Out