When things get real and you find yourself trying to survive in the wilderness, knowing the right skills can be the difference between life and death. Shelter, fire, water, food. That is what you need to survive.
Once you have built your shelter, the next step in wilderness survival is fire. Obviously, a good fire will keep you warm at night when the temperatures drop. You also need a fire to boil water for safe drinking. And you need to use it to cook the food you hunt or trap.
Now building a fire is a whole hell of a lot easier to do when you have the right tools and supplies. But that will not always be the case. That is why we are going to teach you how to start a campfire with supplies and without supplies. Let’s do this.
How to Start a Fire in the Wild
There are three elements to starting a fire in the wilderness – materials, arrangement, and lighting it. If you have the right supplies, this should happen rather quickly.
To start a fire, you will need tinder, kindling, and firewood. Tinder is what is used to start the fire. It includes things like wood shavings, wadded-up newspaper, dried pine needles, cardboard, and even dryer lint (you knew it had to be good for something, right?).
The next element in fire starting is kindling. Gather small pieces of wood like twigs and branches that will easily burn. Depending on the elements, it may take a while to get the fire going, so you can never have too much kindling.
Finally, you need firewood. This is the most important material for a good, hot fire. Dried and aged logs work best, but in the wilderness, you may have to settle for whatever you can find.
Build Your Campfire
There are several techniques for arranging your materials and building your fire. However, each begins with placing the tinder in the center of your fire pit. The order you arrange it should always be tinder, kindling, and then firewood.
For a long-lasting fire, the Cross-Fire technique works best. Stack your kindling in a crisscross pattern over the tinder. Then add the firewood.
Remember to leave space between each layer of your fire for oxygen to get into and circulate.
Lighting Your Campfire
This is a simple step if you have the right tool – matches or a lighter. Simply ignite the tinder and the fire should take off. It is wise to light the tinder in several spots.
Before you start your fire, make sure you have something nearby to extinguish it if you need to. Ensure it is completely saturated before you go to bed by applying a generous amount of water over the fire.
How to Start a Fire Without a Lighter or Matches
Ideally, you will have something to start your fire with, but if not, there are several techniques you can use if you do not have a lighter or matches.
Flint and Steel
Flint and steel are a time-honored way to start a fire, and it works great. If you have a survival bag (and you should), flint and steel are a must. One of the biggest advantages of flint and steel is that it works well in extreme conditions.
Simply strike the steel strikes on the flint until you see sparks. Use those sparks to ignite the tinder and start the fire.
Start a Fire with a Lens
Remember when we were kids and we would try and start a fire with a magnifying glass and the sun? You probably did not realize that could be a life-saving skill. But if we are in a jam and do not have a lighter, matches, or flint and steel, a lens of some kind works wonders. This includes a magnifying glass, binocular lenses, an eyeglass lens, and even a flashlight.
Build your firebase and hold the lens about two inches above the tinder. Angle the lens and create a small, intense beam of heat. The heat from the sunbeam that is filtered through the lens should catch your tinder on fire.