Fire Craft 101


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Here is an overview of different methods to start fire. It can be used as instructor notes when teaching a clinic.

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Fire Craft 101

  1. 1. Fire Craft 101 Kevin Estela Survival Instructor Wilderness Learning Center 435 Sandy Knoll Road Chateaugay, NY 12920 (518) 497-3179
  2. 2. Table of Contents <ul><li>The Importance of Fire </li></ul><ul><li>Fire Requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Primitive Fire Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Traditional Fire Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Modern Fire Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Unorthodox Fire Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Tinder </li></ul><ul><li>Fuel </li></ul><ul><li>Fire Construction </li></ul><ul><li>Responsible Fire Craft </li></ul><ul><li>All-ways Prepared, Prepared Always (Kits) </li></ul><ul><li>Special Considerations </li></ul><ul><li>Notes </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Importance of Fire <ul><li>Warmth (maintaining 98.6 Degrees Fahrenheit) </li></ul><ul><li>Signaling (in groups of three or using smoke) </li></ul><ul><li>Cooking (cooked food digests easier) </li></ul><ul><li>Water (Boil water for at least 10 minutes) </li></ul><ul><li>Knife (Fire can burn through materials) </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional comfort </li></ul>
  4. 4. Fire Requirements <ul><li>Building a fire requires on a few basic elements. 1.Fuel 2.Heat 3.Oxygen </li></ul><ul><li>If one of these elements is not present in the triangle, a fire cannot exist. </li></ul><ul><li>If you can’t get a fire lit, what are you lacking? Ask yourself what is needed. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Primitive Fire Technology <ul><li>Bow Drill </li></ul><ul><li>Hand Drill </li></ul><ul><li>Fire Plough </li></ul><ul><li>Begin with the end in mind. </li></ul><ul><li>A coal will burn slowly. Take your time. </li></ul><ul><li>A coal burns at about 800 degrees. </li></ul><ul><li>Primitive skills are not easy to learn. Be patient. </li></ul><ul><li>Learn the importance of being prepared. </li></ul>Bow Drill Tips: -Work up to speed slowly. -Maintain good form. -Use full strokes. -Learn to identify problems. -Have tinder bundle nearby. -Be patient when the smoke starts. -Use the same wood for the drill and the fireboard. -Keep the string low to the ground for stability. -Wrap your drill to the outside of the bow, not the inside.
  6. 6. Traditional Fire Technology <ul><li>Flint and steel -Sparks are approximately 800 degrees. -Requires char cloth, jute twine or other tinder. -Water resistant. Flint and Steel will work once dried off. </li></ul><ul><li>Matches -Hottest part is ½ inch above flame -Ignite near intended tinder when reaction is hottest -Split paper matches if supply is short -Dip in wax to waterproof -Take up a lot of space </li></ul>
  7. 7. Modern Fire Technology <ul><li>Ferrocium Rod -Blend of metals that spark when scraped with metal. -Capable of thousands of fires. -BSA Hot Spark, Magnesium Starter, Swedish Fire Steels. -Upwards of 5000 degrees Fahrenheit. -Very water resistant. </li></ul><ul><li>Bic Lighter -capable of thousands of fires. -Stretch lifetime by using for 1-2 seconds each time. -Delicate and sensitive to the environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Butane Torches -Pricey but effective </li></ul>
  8. 8. Unorthodox Fire Technology <ul><li>000 steel wool and batteries -Touch steel wool to both ends. </li></ul><ul><li>Fresnel and Magnifying lenses -The bigger the lens, the better the chances. Use good tinder. Conditions must be right. </li></ul><ul><li>Potassium Permanganate and Glycerin -Carry separately. Combine and in 30 seconds to a minute a reaction will occur. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Tinder <ul><li>Natural tinder -Birch bark -Fluffed cedar bark -Tinder Fungus -Collect tinder whenever possible. You never know when you will need it. </li></ul><ul><li>Man Made -Cotton Vaseline Balls (3 minutes-5 minute burn) -Store bought (trioxane, fire paste, artificial logs, etc. -Very water resistant compared to natural (exception is birch bark because of oils) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Fuel <ul><li>Surface to mass ratio -Would 1 Million toothpicks or a 1000 lb log be easier to light with a single match? </li></ul><ul><li>Twig Bundles (As thick as you can grab with your hand around) </li></ul><ul><li>“ If it doesn’t snap, throw it back” </li></ul><ul><li>Gradually build up your fire from small tinder, kindling then fuel. </li></ul><ul><li>A log can be split and split and split to make smaller fuel and fuzz sticks. At least 3 well-made fuzz sticks ensure a decent fire. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Fire Construction <ul><li>Consider the platform. </li></ul><ul><li>Sparks can jump, clear a safe area around your fire pit. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t build fires where fuel can roll onto you at night. </li></ul><ul><li>Fire reflectors direct heat towards you. </li></ul><ul><li>In cold weather, keep fuel nearby and have a long stick to poke the fire. </li></ul><ul><li>Always gather fuel, even when you think you have enough. </li></ul><ul><li>Teepee fires vs. all others. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Fire Craft Responsibility <ul><li>Always extinguish all fires by thoroughly dowsing them in water. Drown them. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not simply bury coals. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not build fires in dry areas. </li></ul><ul><li>Have a water source nearby. </li></ul><ul><li>Teach children responsibility (expose them to fire early on) </li></ul><ul><li>Look for smoldering embers before leaving camp. </li></ul>
  13. 13. All-ways Prepared, Prepared Always (Kits) <ul><li>Redundancy (key chain, fanny pack, day pack, etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Ways to carry tinder. </li></ul><ul><li>Pack “glove friendly” fire kit items for winter use. </li></ul><ul><li>Every Day Carry (EDC) a couple means of lighting fires. </li></ul><ul><li>Carry kit items to help your weaknesses. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Special Considerations <ul><li>What happens if you break one of your hands? Can you light a fire with just one hand? How about your weak hand? </li></ul><ul><li>Can you light a “one match fire?” </li></ul><ul><li>Can your fire kit survive a dunking in water? </li></ul><ul><li>Can you light a fire in the pouring rain? </li></ul><ul><li>Can you light a fire on top of snow? </li></ul>
  15. 15. Notes