Start a fire – camping fire lighting

Why is the ability to start fires important?

The human ability to create and control fire is one of the things that differentiate us from the rest of the animal life on this planet and has helped us become what we are today and settle areas we couldn’t otherwise survive in. We have technology to cook our food, heat water and provide heat in our homes but when you leave your homes for an extended outdoor adventure what are you going to do? You are going to need that special spark to ignite fuel to provide heat for cooking food, heating water and warming yourself.

We use fire in some form to do this, whether its an open camp fire or some other controllable and containable heat source such as a camping stove but starting a fire is difficult without some kind of help. So here we are going to describe what you can have to help to start a fire in an outdoor situation.

Different forms of fire lighters

Two of the most convenient fire starting aids you can use are matches and butane lighters. They are inexpensive and can be bought in just about any general store. A more robust, waterproof version of standard matches are available in specialist outdoor activity stores but still great care has to be taken in storing them. This is because if they are damaged they lose their waterproof ability and become as undependable as standard matches.

A popular form of fire lighter for campers, outdoor enthusiasts and survivalists is the Ferrocerium bar or Ferro rod and sometimes called Firesteel. This is a metal bar that is made from a Magnesium Cerium alloy that when scraped with a Steel metal edge will produce hot sparks. These sparks are hot enough to catch suitable, dry tinder alight. The Ferro rod is especially suitable for outdoor and survival activities because:
1. It is durable and not easily damaged,

2. It can work even when wetted or dirty,

3. It doesn’t degrade over time so can be stored in an emergency pack or bug-out bag,

4. Lasts for thousands of strikes,

5. Is inexpensive.

We at OutBiome recommend that you carry more than one kind of fire starter on your outdoor adventures! This is so that if one method fails you can try another.

Tinder to help you.

Having a means to start a fire does not always guarantee you will be able to start one with whatever might be in the immediate vicinity of your fire location and the ground material might be wet. So you are going to need to have some dry tinder with you that you know will catch fire when you need it.

Ready made tinder products are available and they come in many different forms and you can make them yourself or find natural sources.

Fatwood: This is resinous strips of wood that are shaved to create tinder. The high resin content means it will catch fire readily. You can find fatwood in nature at the base of dead pine branches! They can be bought ready to go from specialist outdoor stores.

Magnesium bars: You can get blocks of the metal element Magnesium that if you shave with an edge you can create a small pile of Magnesium shavings. If you then light it with a cigarette lighter, match or sparks from a Ferro rod will ignite with a several thousand degree flame. Magnesium bars have the same 5 benefits listed above for Ferro rods!

Petroleum jelly: This is used as an accelerant and can be used with cotton to create an easily lit and long burning tinder. The product Vaseline is a common source of this fire starter!

Birch tree bark: I don’t think you can buy this in stores but it is available in nature taken from Birch trees. The paper like bark is rich in Creosote which is a flammable substance and takes a spark or flame easily.