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Discussion Starter #1
Went out a while ago to see how easy, or not-easy, it would be to start a fire in the field that's part of my back yard, and just using matches. It was about 25F, and completely dark out, and there's a little bit of snow on the ground.

I built a small bed of crushed up, but not too-finely crushed up, and mostly dry leaves that I found under some wood and other sheltered spots, made a pile about 2 inches high and maybe 3 inches in diameter, and with the leaves loosely packed. I then made a teepee of semi-dry small twigs over this, with the twigs being from about 1/8 to 3/4 inch in diameter, and spaced in order to allow lots of air to get to the leaf bed inside. I then made a big pile of various diameter-sticks nearby the fire, so that I wouldn't have to go foraging while the fire was still in it's early stages. Most of this wood was not dry.

Here's the kicker: there's a steady 15 MPH wind outside, blowing all sorts of leaves and other crap through the little field I was in. I arranged my body around the little teepee so that it was in the lee of the wind, but really the fire had very little shelter gainst the wind, and then set my first lit match in several places in the leaf bed. Didn't work--the wind was too strong. On the 4th match, the leaves finally caught, and after than everything was golden--the teepee caught, and I then added more kindling and some bigger, maybe 1 inch diameter sticks until I had a good cook fire going. The larger wet pieces of wood caught and burned. I hadn't done anything like this probably in about 15 years (I usually use backpacking stoves) and so it was nice to see some of the old skills still worked!

The key thing, I think, is to start small. Really small. If you can get a small, hot fire going "underneath" it will help the stuff on top to dry out enough to ignite. This is crucial where I live, since for much of the year wood is either really wet or just kind of wet, and typically it isn't really dry. Also, obviously, you need to provide as much protection from the wind as possible.

Anybody else practicing firecraft? Tom.
 

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"Always Be Prepared"
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Yes. I've been reading and practicing Tom Brown's best method, from his book, which is the Teepee, like you have tried. The only things I would add from what he says, is to get some tree bark and lay this on the side of your TP to protect it from either rain or wind.
I'm even thinking of carrying and using some aluminum foil to use as either a wind shield(placed on side of the TP) or also as a rain shield (placed on top of the TP), if I can't get some tree bark.
Also he says make sure your tinder is absolutely dry and burns well, so I'm not so sure that the leaves you used is the best choice for this, since they can be a little difficult to ignite and don't have a very good flame sometimes. He suggests the inner layers of bark of certain trees or also making a feather stick in wet weather. If you're desperate and give in to the temptation not to practice the pure art of firecraft, (in other words cheating a little :D:) you could use some dryer lint and put a little alcohol based hand sanitizer on top, which works great and ignites right away with a fire steel. --This will get it going quickly provided you lay down all the other wood layers properly as you mentioned already. Tom Brown also stresses to not allow the moisture from the ground to be drawn up into the fire, so we should line the ground with tree bark or grasses.
The biggest challenge, according to him, is we should get to where we can setup and ignite a TP fire within 60 seconds in bad weather. This will hone our skills and maybe even prevent some threat of life or loss of limb in bad weather.
I'm just now trying the bow-drill with the above TP style fire.
 

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i agree the tepee is the best method for one-match fire-starting. Just remember that matches are designed to light matchsticks, so have the first layer of twigs be no bigger than that, and it will light well.
If you know there is a wind, I take a few minutes and set up a small wind-break of some kind; a wall of sticks, rocks, etc. An even easier and quicker way is to simply dig a hole and start the fire in there. It is very windproof. Just make sure you give yourself enough room to stick your hand in and light the fire properly. Think more of a trench than a hole, about 6 inches to a foot deep will block almost any winds. Make sure your hands are already down in the hole before trying to light the matches to prevent them from being blown out.

I agree with charlieb, I find most leaves to be terrible tinder. although if you are using a match as opposed to trying to start with sparks or embers, the most important part is finding very thin dry twigs. No bigger than the matchstick of the match you are using. Make the entire tepee out of these, and you will be able to light it fairly easily, as every stick in the tepee can be lit directly from the match. Mix in just a few slightly larger sticks that can catch from this initial flame, and have a large supply of pencil sized sticks to put on once the fire has started.

When I have used these methods as described, and taken the time to actually do it correctly, i have never failed to light a fire with a single match.
 

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Go to guy
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A true test is using only one match to start a fire and have that fire boil a cup of water. When you can accomplish this without much heart ache then you can say that you have obtained a basic level of firebuilding skills.
 

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I'm keeping my eye on you
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When I used to hunt a lot, I used to carry a road flare in my back pack for emergency fire building. I guarantee you it only takes one to get a good fire going, wind or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, I definitely didn't hit that 60 seconds mark! I'll try again soon. Using bark as a bed for the fire sounds like a great idea too--hadn't thought of that. Tom.
 

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Just a thought try using a fire steel or a manganese fire starter instead of matches. Matches will fail you when you need them the most and you can get WAY more use from the fire starters than a box of matches.
 

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i went out today and got a fire going. i used a swedish fire steel and some dryer lint. i actually got a little fire going!
plus, i wanted to see how long an esbit tab would burn and what it was like, so i used a forked stick and my fire to light the tab. i cooked (burned!) a hershey kiss on it because i wasn't really planning all that well.
i used little pine sticks as fuel and didn't make a pyramid. it went out on it's own. when i go out next time, i'm going to use cat tails instead of dryer lint and maybe try the magnesium stick. i've used it before in the summer and couldn't get it to work (operator error). and bring out something more substantial than a hershey kiss to cook!
at least i know it works and that i can do it.

<img src="http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y186/dmussatti/Dec%2008%20harbor%20and%20falls/100_1902.jpg">

when the fire went out, i spread it around to make sure it wouldn't start a forest fire.
<img src="http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y186/dmussatti/Dec%2008%20harbor%20and%20falls/100_1901.jpg">

<img src="http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y186/dmussatti/Dec%2008%20harbor%20and%20falls/100_1896.jpg">

<img src="http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y186/dmussatti/Dec%2008%20harbor%20and%20falls/100_1899.jpg">
 

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Improvise Adapt Overcome!
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I am actually really good with fire craft, just not with primitive methods. I prefer the magnesium block over anything else because of how hot the magnesium burns.

I use a rather unique fire structure. I start by building a small, 3d square frame. Then i use that to make an inverted pyramid (point is down), which is topped by massive tinders and light kindlings; dry leaves, small thin sticks, grass, or what have you. This makes the fire spread faster as it follows the inverted pyramid up and out. This is my "igniter" as I call it.

I build a larger, normal pyramid on top of that and surround it with a log cabin like structure that I place a second inverted pyramid into. It over laps the normal one. It spreads fire to the log cabin structure. I add more tinder and kindling on top of that

My Log cabin structure is made of some rather heavy wood. I top it with a log or two that covers the whole thing like an uncompleted frame for a flat roof.

This takes some time to set up, but all you need it a small ignition source and the entire thing goes up really fast!!!

As it burns, I drop in 1 to 2 inch sticks into the top so they are supported vertically and I keep doing so untill there is a really nice hot coal bed with a good sized log burning on top.

I some times dig a depression, and lay several layers of 1 to 2 inch diameter sticks in the depression and build it on top of that. This gives me a massive coal bed that will reignite the fire by just tossing leaves on it even after a short rain storm.

I have covered these fires with dirt to put them out, come back 3 days later, dug them open and still had enough coal burning at the bottom to start it back up with some luv and attention. It would be a good base camp fire because you should only need to ignite it one time,and so long as you keep it fueled it should last for weeks, or even forever.

I built a really large fire like this as a teenager, at our favorite night spot in the local woods, and we kept it burning the ENTIRE summer and part of fall, through rain storms and everything. We would cover it with dirt when we left, then open it up and dump leaves and fresh wood on it, to restart the fire when we got back. That whole time, we never once had to reignite it.

It died out in the fall because we stopped going to restart it every couple of days.
 

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"Always Be Prepared"
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Hey Dragon,
Can you show a picture or drawing of this sometime? Sounds very interesting. Is it similar to a barn fire?
Where are you placing you small kindling? --Down inside the first inverted pyramid or outside of it?
How does the second inverted pyramid overlap? the second normal pyramid?
It's a little difficult to imagine your setup.
Thanks for any clarifications.
 

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Watchin tha world go by
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try using a log, lay your tinder mid way down log to shield it from tha wind then when ya
have it started lay your stick fuel across it against log. as they burn and drop they will build your coal base and help keep future fuel going. plus once tha log starts smolderin ya can put out yer fire, roll logs smolderin side over dirt and use it to start fire later with no matches if yer in an overnight camp.
 

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Improvise Adapt Overcome!
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Can you show a picture or drawing of this sometime? Sounds very interesting.

Reply]
I used to have a picture, but I lost that harddrive to a virus.

Is it similar to a barn fire?

Reply]
I don't know what that is.

Where are you placing you small kindling? --Down inside the first inverted pyramid or outside of it?


Reply]
I put Tinder, and Kindling on both the interior of all the pyramids, and outside them.


How does the second inverted pyramid overlap? the second normal pyramid?


Reply]
Yes, they are intertwined and sort of form an hourglass shape.

The set up takes a bit of construction, but all you need is enough of a spark to get a flame, and it goes up almost like you poured gasoline on it.

You can even use a bird's nest from a Bow And drill method for the original ignition source.
 

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Improvise Adapt Overcome!
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try using a log, lay your tinder mid way down log to shield it from tha wind then when ya
have it started lay your stick fuel across it against log. as they burn and drop they will build your coal base and help keep future fuel going. plus once tha log starts smolderin ya can put out yer fire, roll logs smolderin side over dirt and use it to start fire later with no matches if yer in an overnight camp.
Reply]
I have done this as well.

You can also take a pile of leaves, build a small log cabin around it(Leave a door to introduce the ignition source), and drop kindling in it to form an inverted pyramid, and then just pile all sorts of random sized grass, sticks twigs on top inter mixed with leaves, and that lights fairly fast too.

All you do is keep feeding it with lots of sticks, gradually increasing the size of them untill the log cabin burns down. Once you have that, just toss a few logs on it for a nice hot, consistent fire.


There are a bunch of wys to do this. All the various methods I use have several things in common.

1. they have the inverted pyramid surrounded bth inside and out by tinder and kindling, lots of it.

2. I they are ignited at the point of th inverted pyramid.

3. I use massive amounts of leaves, grass or anything else that it a fine kindling to get a large fire burning really hot really fast.

4. I start the flame with tinder and small sticks and such; then build it so the flame travels from the smallest, easiest to burn fuel, out and up to the thickest, hardest to burn wood. I use as many in between sizes as I can for nice progression. This really gets a nice fast hot fire going, and it gets the thicker branches burning quickly. It even drys out damp or wet wood and ignites it too.

Each size of tinder ignites the next size up. The closer they are in size, the better. So Xsmall, Small, Medium, Regular, Large, Extra Large and XXLarge arrangement will start much easier than if you just have small, medium and large pieces of wood. Lots, and lots of light kindling and heavy tinder layered through out is important too.

You can go from spark to full fire in 30 seconds or less if you follow the principals. Many designs follow the principals.
 

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I usually make a teepee, like you did. The tinder must be dry. The kindling must be fairly dry. Your right, it doesn't have to be totally dried out, it can be a little moist.
And yes, the wind is always causing problems. You could try to build a 'wall' with a cloth or something like that. Works for me :)
 
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