Thursday, August 16, 2012
The Basics: Fire
So it has been a little while since I ran the basics of water, so I thought it was about time to run the basics of fire. Fire is perhaps the quintessential symbol of being human and survival. So often it is that image of the caveman creating fire that we often associate as that defining moment when we changed from ape to human. We also often associate the ability to create fire with the ability to survive, because fire is such an important aspect of this.
So lets start with exactly how fire works. There are three things that you need for fire: heat, fuel and oxygen. Without any one of these three things, your fire is either not going to start or its going to go out.
To start a fire, especially with any primitive method, the first element of the fire triangle that we start with is heat. Oxygen is already present in the air so we don't have to wory about that. Once we get a fire started however we need to move on quickly to fuel. To keep your fire going you have to give it fuel or the beginning sparks and embers you have created will die.
That really is all there is too it. As long as you can combine heat, fuel and air together, you can create a fire. However if you are creating a fire, there are other things you want to take into account such as location, materials and the type of fire you are going to use.
When starting with a fire you should always start first with location. When building a fire you want to take into account a number of different factors. The first being where you building the fire itself. The surface the fire is going to be on needs to be non-burnable surface like rock or dirt. However there should be burnable materials such as branches or grasses nearby that way you have a close source of fuel.
Other things to keep in mind are how you will extinguish your fire, if it needs to be kept hidden or the possibilities of winds. Wind is the most important perhaps because you want to make sure that wind can't blow your fire onto burnable objects and create a forest fire.
After choosing your spot, you'll need to gather materials for your fire. For a fire you need a couple of different materials. The first thing you'll want is tinder. This can be anything from dry grass, shaved bark fibers, paper, lint, cotton or other fiberous materials that will catch fire with just a spark.
After tinder you need first small twigs, small branches and then logs. This way you can start with small pieces of fuel and start adding larger peices as you go to build up your fire.
After you have your location and your materials your going to need to actually start your fire. There are many different ways to do this. There are specific materials that can be used to start a fire such as matches, lighters, and fire strikers.
Then there are friction methods many different friction methods that can be used to start a fire. Knowing at least one of these friction methods is good knowledge to have. This way if you don't have a ligher or matches you can still start a fire.
Different friction methods include:
These are the most common friction methods but there are other varieties and methods as well. There are also ways to create fire using batteries, mirrors and other items.
The last thing your going to want to figure out is the form of fire design you are going to create. DIfferent fire designs will create different sized fires that can be used for different things. Some of the most common fire designs are:
-the teeepee fire
-the pyramid or platform fire
-the parallel fire
-the star or indian fire
-the reflector fire
-the dakota hole hole
With these basics covered you have the knowledge you need to build a fire. One thing to keep in mind though is that just because you know in theory how to build a fire does not mean that you can just build one whenever you want.
Practicing is an important part of being able to create fires. Try out different building methods and different forms of fuel. Find which methods work best for you and provide the type of fire you want whether its for heat, cooking or for signalling.
So get ready some marshmellows and start practicing your fires. That way if SHTF you'll be prepared.