Saturday, 3 August 2013

Basic fire lighting methods

Basic Fire Lighting Methods

Fire, a basic necessity for thousands of years and one of the first things that a bushcraft course should teach. Its a pity that this most fundamental skill has been lost with the advent of self igniting boilers and central heating to keep us warm. There are many different ways of teaching fire lighting ranging from the basic and obvious through to what most people think of when they think of bushcraft, rubbing two sticks together. in this weeks blog I`m going to show you some basic and simple methods of fire lighting that I teach on my courses, I made the videos in the local woods, the footage is unedited as I don`t have a video editor on my computer, I used cotton wool and petroleum jelly as fuel and all the fires are extinguished using a bowl of water which you will occasionally hear.

the kit 


Matches have been around for a long time yet it is still surprising how many people aren`t confident in using them, especially young people, personally I blame films for this as many people have seen an actor light a match only to drop seconds later just before the monster attacks! this has lead me to start doing confidence building with matches where I take an extra long match light it and hold it in my hand whilst explaining that it takes a while for a match to burn down to their fingers and in all likelihood will probably burn out before it even gets there.

(the T-shirt should read Lone Wolf Mobile Bushcraft)

this is what tends to happen with clients 


probably most peoples first port of call when they think of a way to light a fire as everyone knows someone that will have one, I have both a long handle refillable lighter and the usual disposable ones, I do encourage the use of both, the videos below show both types and yes I did have a problem with the disposable lighter until I swapped hands.


Disposable lighter

Fire Striker

For most people this is where bushcraft really begins in terms of fire lighting, as there is skill and patience involved with getting a spark from one of these, I have found that the best way to use a fire striker is to keep the steel still and move the striker itself as this means that sparks generated are at a consistent distance and are slightly easy to control in terms of direction, although this is by no means assured and many a decent spark has been lost due to random direction, I have also found that better sparks are generated when using a knife this however does have the downside of blunting the knife.



This is perhaps one of the easiest non conventional methods of lighting fires out there, however it does have downsides which I will go through first, first of all this method can be dangerous for many reasons, to light a fire, you are effectively creating a short circuit between the two terminals of a 9V battery with some wire wool, this runs the risk of electrocution and burns if you touch the energized wire and also heats the battery itself to quite a high temperature, if you intend to try this method please only do so whilst wearing gloves and DO NOT hold the battery against the wire too long else you will risk the battery catching alight, I use cheaper batteries for this method as they are not used for long and get damaged anyway, also when transporting battery and wire wool I not only wrap the battery in a non conductive material, like a plastic bag but also store the two in completely separate compartments of my rucksack. 

This covers four basic methods of lighting fires but there are many more I haven`t covered such as traditional flint and steel, focal point ignition (magnifying glasses and parabolic mirrors) and fire pistons (I don`t own one of theses yet), as well as bow drills and fire drills (rubbing two sticks together) as these are better taught on courses, if you have a go at any of these methods above please remember safety precautions and always have a method of extinguishing fires afterwards.  

Follow the link below to go to the Lone Wolf Mobile Bushcraft website.

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