Knowing how to build a reliable fire is one of the most crucial techniques necessary to survival situations. It may seem like a simple task: all you have to do is gather some sticks and use a match, just like you’ve seen in movies. Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. Wasting valuable energy trying to make a fire while lost in the woods can be the difference between being found alive a few hours later or freezing to death.
A successful fire foundation is the result of the perfect combination of oxygen, fuel, and heat. In nearly every imaginable situation, you’ll have ample oxygen and fuel in the form of twigs, sticks, and logs. The heat will usually come from a lighter or matches, which you should always have on you while outdoors. Even if you don’t plan on using them, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Check out 7 fire starters that will turn you into a Fire God for some inspiration.
Before you start lighting sticks on fire, gather a large bundle of smaller sticks, around the size of pencil lead. These sticks will light up with just one match. Your goal is to find the smallest sticks available. Once you have a sufficient amount of these, find sticks a bit larger, about half the size of a pencil. The next logical step up will be sticks around the size of a pencil, slowly working your way up until you have large logs. It is important to find a good amount of sticks and twigs of every size possible.
Once you have gathered a good amount of various twigs and sticks, you need to bundle them together. In the worst situations, you’ll have to hold the bundle in your hand. If possible, tie them together so you won’t risk any of the bundle falling apart, especially while on fire. Lighting your bundle on fire is your next step. The fire from a match should be enough to light the bundle up immediately and using a lighter should take less than six seconds to ignite the bundle. If it takes any longer, you may need to find smaller and drier sticks. Fire always burns upwards, so light your bundle from the bottom, so the flame spreads through the bundle.
Rotate your bundle of sticks if necessary, ensuring the bundle is sufficiently on fire. From here, set your bundle down and start adding the larger sticks, slowly building the fire up. Adding only one stick at a time is recommended. Make sure you place your sticks directly over the fire itself and not just where you want the fire to travel. It may be necessary to blow on your fire to give it the necessary oxygen to burn. Add the sticks in a teepee shape as you build.
From here, your next goal is to make a bed of hot, burnt coals and ash. Your teepee will eventually collapse on itself, so keep adding larger sticks until you’re adding logs. Eventually, these logs will collapse inward on the coals, adding to the blaze. From here, your fire will only require light upkeep. You’ve successfully built a fire!