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An avid outdoors person needs a full arsenal of survival skills at his or her disposal. You never know when you're going to take a wrong turn and end up spending the night under the stars.
Or, maybe you just want to camp overnight on your hunting or fishing trip. We know not everyone in the woods gets lost. (You did remember your compass, right?)
Regardless of your goal, the ability to make a fire is crucial.
After all, there's a reason why fire is one of human kind's greatest accomplishments. A simple pile of twigs can bring warmth, safety, food, and fresh water to any situation.
For those who aren't in the know, we're going to teach you how to light a fire, the easy way.
It's important to remember that any fire has the potential to spread and cause severe damage to surrounding habitats. For this reason, our first step is building a fire pit to contain any combustible materials.
Start by digging a shallow hole and removing any grass or other debris left inside. Then ring the hole with decently sized rocks. You don't need boulders, but pebbles won't do either.
Start by assessing what you have for an ignition source. The basic tools are matches or a lighter, but a flint will work just as well
Now you'll need to look for tinder. Dry grass, black and white newspaper or leaves work great. Just make sure none of it's wet.
Next, comes kindling, which is just a fancy word for small sticks. We emphasize the "small" part. Start with twigs the size of your finger and upsize until you have some around six inches long. The bigger the fire the more kindling you'll need.
Hopefully, you've brought logs or at least a hatchet. As you've likely guessed, logs are the main fuel source.
Start by laying down a pile of tinder. Again, how much depends on how large of a fire you're trying to make. Next, make a grid of kindling over top of the tinder.
Leave room for the tinder to breathe. Fire needs an oxidizer to enable combustion, and in this case, it's oxygen.
This is where we come to a fork in the road: Matches or a Lighter vs. a Flint.
If you have these tools you're in luck. Strike a match or flick your lighter and put the flame to your tinder. Keep on eye on the fire until the kindling also catches.
Using a flint box is simple if someone teaches you how. Start by finding the side of the box that's made of a softer material. That's your flint.
Take a pocket knife and shave the flint onto your tinder. After you have a pile of flint, turn the box around and use the striking side to create a spark.
Aim the sparks at your flint shavings and you should eventually get a flame.
Now that you have a little flame going, blow gently on the fire. This will stoke the flames and make sure your kindling is sufficiently lit.
Grab some more kindling before your flames get too high and make a teepee around your pile. It seems like a cliche out of a boy scout handbook, but the teepee method is popular for a reason.
Next, take your logs and stack them in a square around your teepee. You'll want to have made the teepee fairly short because you're going to cover the top of the square with more logs.
The logs will serve two purposes. First, they block the wind to ensure your base fire doesn't go out. Second, they'll eventually catch on fire and become the bulk of the fuel.
By this point, your fire will have started to spread to the main fuel logs. This is also where people make the most mistakes. Yeah, people make the most mistakes after the fire is already burning.
When the main fuel logs catch, the properties of the fire will change. You'll be dealing with wood that has a much higher water content than your kindling.
Water in wood has to boil off before the wood itself will light, and this consumes energy. You're at risk of smothering your flame if the fire is not hot enough (producing enough energy) to burn away excess water.
There's also a chance you'll have to adjust your fire structure. Take the logs that aren't lighting well and move them away from the fire. Move, we suggest with gloves or thick boots, the logs that have started to burn into the center of the flame.
Your goal is to stop the fire from spreading itself too thin. Concentrate your heat energy on what is burning, and then add the rest later.
Keep an eye on the structural integrity of the fire as it burns. You should make minor adjustments when needed to ensure airflow and keep your fire burning.
Part of lighting a fire is putting it out when you're done.
In 2015, the National Interagency Fire Center recorded 68,151 wildfires in the U.S. Since nature provided you with fuel for a fire, return the favor by ensuring the forest stays safe.
Putting out your fire should always include water when available. Douse the fire and then cover your pit with fresh dirt and the rocks you used to make the perimeter of your pit.
It's crucial to always double check that there are no live embers before you leave your campsite.
We hope this guide gave you a good idea of how to easily light a fire, should the need ever arise. If you're having trouble getting making a flame, remember, humans have been making fire for 350,000 years. Keep trying and you'll get the hang of it.
If you're in the market for outdoors gear, check out our website. We specialize in outdoor supplies hand selected by lifetime outdoorsman. We don't sell anything we wouldn't trust to keep ourselves alive in the Rocky Mountain backcountry.