Survival Series Part Four: Fire Basics continued.

Fire, is an essential survival tool, is paramount to not only carry fire with you but, to learn how to make a fire. It is not as simple as throwing some matches down on a pile of sticks and hoping that they burst into flames.

The first thing you need to think about is your fire lay. Even if you get your tinder to catch a flame, transferring it a living fire is not always that easy.

The teepee method of fire lay is usually the easiest. A teepee fire also gives you the advantage of being self-feeding. Meaning once you have it going as it burns done the teepee collapses and feeds itself. By simply adding more wood along the outside of the fire lay you can keep it going.

The teepee fire lay is not the only fire lay but, in my opinion, it is the first one people should learn. It is easiest to start and keep burning.


Tinder is the first thing you are going to need. Tinder is the one thing you should always carry with you. Many commercial tinders are available on the market.

Just because you carry tinder on you does not mean you should not look for natural tinder when you are in the wild. Finding natural tinder along your journey in the wilderness will prolong the resources that you carry with you.

Natural tinder is everywhere in the wilderness, knowing which types and what they will do for you if a good start.

Ember tinder
Fungi, charged material, and some dung are all ember carriers. Being an ember carrier means it will not produce an open flame. They will smolder until they go out.


Flash tinders are the exact opposite of an ember carrier. They quickly produce an open flame, but they will burn up exceptionally fast. Dry grass, shredded bark, and any other dry fibrous material are good examples of flash tinder.

Tinder bundles.

What types of tinder you can find in your area will depend on where you live. A tinder bundle had the same basic construction no matter where you live.

At the heart of your tinder bundle is a small amount of flash tinder. Wrapped around that should be more tinder but it should catch quickly and burn somewhat slower. The purpose of your tinder bundle is to catch your teepee fire lay.


Not having enough firewood is the most common mistake made when new people get out into the woods. The golden rule is: when you think you have enough fuel, multiply that times ten and you might have enough.

The firewood should be dry or standing dead wood. Start with kindling. It should be the size of a pencil lead or smaller. Kindling should be able to catch the flame from your tinder bundle easily and nurture it to a steadier flame. Firewood should be the size of a pencil and bigger.

Your firewood should graduate up in size from the size of your kindling up to 3 or 4 inches in width. The harder the wood, the slower it will burn and the harder it will be to catch fire. Collecting a mix of hardwood and softwood will give you all the best options. Softer faster burning woods will help build your initial fire but, them transferring that flame into hardwoods will allow your fire to burn longer.

Tools of the trade.

Fixed blade knife.

It would be best if you always carried a good fixed blade knife. With it, you can get to the dryer hardwood center at most branches. If you can find some standing deadwood, you can easily use your fixed blade knife to process it down to a useable size.

Folding saw.

A good saw makes processing firewood easier. It also has less risk for the user. You can’t split wood down to get at the dryer center but, a saw makes collecting standing wood easier.

Ax or hatchet.

This category had the most risk to the user. Just because of their function there is always a risk to the user. The tools here can process wood easier and faster than a knife or saw but, are also heavier to carry. You’ll have to make the decision based on use and weight. What do you want to carry based on how much you want to carry?

Primitive Fire making.

There are a time and a place for primitive fire making. It is a great skill to have. If something was to happen and you were to have lost all other fire making materials, then you can always fall back on primitive fire making skills. It is not a skill to rely on every day or for a common emergency.

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