For peace of mind and survival preparedness a person needs to feel confident using various fire-starting methods. Knowing different fire-starting methods will increase the chance of a fire being lit if and when needed. It is best to begin with the easiest fire-starting method. Practice until you feel confident with the skill before moving to another method. Practice whenever you have the opportunity (BBQs, campfires, fire-pits, weekend gatherings, etc.) to keep your fire-starting skills honed when needed.
Common Fire-Starting Methods (easy to difficult)
Matches: The best choice of matches are wood or paper waterproof matches. Have dry, highly flammable tinder ready prior to lighting. Once match is lit, cup in hands and slowly press against tinder until it begins to flame. Allow for plenty of air to ignite tinder into an active flame. Transfer flaming tinder to small dry wood slowly feeding flames into a small fire.
Butane Lighter: These disposable little lifesavers can be purchased inexpensively in multi-packs. The flint wheel type lighters dry easily if wet vs. battery operated electronic arc lighters which will not light with even the slightest moisture.
Flint and Steel: This fire starter can be purchased at any sporting department or camping section. Using flint and steel as a method to start fires takes patience and practice. It is important to have a very flammable tinder pad for sparks to land on. Once lit sparks fall onto the tinder pack pick it up in cupped hands and gently blow it into a flame. Transfer flaming tinder pack to fire base.
Magnifying Glass: Any concave piece of clear glass can be used (watch crystal, camera, eyeglass or binocular lens) to capture the intensity of the sun’s rays for starting a fire. This method will only work with strong sunshine. Focus the apex of sunlight through the glass to the smallest point of light by moving the piece of glass forward and away. Focus the light beam onto the tinder pack until tinder begins to smoke and embers form. Pick up tinder pack in cupped hands and gently blow on embers into a flame. Transfer flaming tinder to fire base.
Battery and Steel Wool: Tape two charged C or D cell batteries end to end with (-) and (+) on opposite ends. Take a loose 1/2 inch wide strand of fine steel wool an inch or two longer than the length of the two batteries. Wearing gloves or using paper, flat stone, or twig press one end of steel wool to positive end while holding other end to negative end. Steel wool will begin to heat and spark. Place into tinder pack and blow gently into a flame. Transfer the flaming tinder to fire base.
The ability to make a fire in an emergency or survival situation often determines life or death. Practicing your fire-making skills not only helps build your confidence but also increases the chance that a fire will be started when needed.
Take a baby step by gaining the confidence and skills of making a fire using various fire-starting methods.