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Behold a pale horse
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It rained all night and is damp and foggy out here today, as usual. So I figured id try and make a fire with only what i carry along with me on a hike in the woods. Until now ive honestly never tried to make a fire in bad/wet conditions. I learned a couple of things..
Using a magnesium firestarter on wet tinder sucks. I spent a lot of energy trying to get the dryest grass i could find to light. i only had luck with the mag when i used a bit of lint from my pocket.. but i never had enough tider on hand to keep it going.

You need a lot of dry kindling to get a log to burn, i found a dead standing spruce that was ideal for kindling as it was mostly dried out inside.

Youll want to move whatever is your source of kindling close to your fire, i spent a lot of energy going back and forth once i got a fire lit, then i just pushed the old tree over and dragged it to my fire, things went a lot better after that.

I found that the only available wet tinder that would work was birchbark, seems to burn even when wet, if you peel off the outer layer the insides were fairly dry.

It takes a lot of swinging with that little camp axe to make up enough kindling, next time im bringing some leather gloves along.

you can never have enough water proof matches.

I think that if you havent, as was the case with me, you should go out in less than ideal conditions and practice making a fire, its tougher than it looks.
 

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Good of you to be honest about a bad experience, not many would!! Learning from your mistakes when it doesnt matter is probably the best way to make sure it stays learned!
 

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Here is a little tip I learned young. When cutting up that length of tree you absolutely do not have to chop all the way threw each section. I see this constantly watch these vids now days lots of wasted energy! Simply make notches going down one side of the tree then rolling it over make matching notches on the opposite side you would be surprised at how small a notch it takes! Anyways I then just either find two trees in close proximity and using them as a wedge break off the sections from the larger end then using them on the ground I smack the tree against a log on the ground just behind the notch the firewood just piles up! I can cut and stack a nights worth on wood this way in a matter of minutes barely breaking a sweat. I know this sounds very basic in a common sense sort of way but I have yet to see a video showing how to be efficient when cutting up firewood. You can also use this method with a saw but I prefer using the saw to fell the tree (only if necessary) since my sven saw can cut much faster than hacking any day! Wish I had a camcorder I'd put out one of these videos! GL guys
 

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Behold a pale horse
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks dcberry, i take town the occasional dead spruce to add to my firewood pile. Ill try your technique, should save me some sweat.
 

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Improvise Adapt Overcome!
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I have made wet fires with the magnesium fire block. The trick is to find a stick, preferably standing, and to use a knife to shave it down to the dry wood inside. Once you get down to the dry wood, start by shaving off very small thin lengths about a half inch to an inch long. A good way is to make them the length of your thumb nail. Get a good little pile going.

Next do the same, but make the lengths a bit longer, and thicker (not too much thicker though). Half the length of a finger is good. No need to be exact. Once that pile has grown make another, only longer. I use full finger lengths.

The first pile should be about the size of a quarter and will be placed on top of a nickel sized pile of shaved magnesium. The second pile should be the size of a half dollar, and it gets placed on top of the first pile. The last pile should be at least the size of a dollar bill folded in half, but larger works better.

On top of this, place what would normally be tinder in dry conditions, followed by thin sticks, lost of them. Finally add more tinder, and slightly larger sticks. Continue the process untill you can use sticks the size of 2 fingers in width.

What will happen, is the magnesium will ignite the small dry wood you whittled out of the first stick, which will ignite the larger ones, and that ignites the longest lengths.

You will get a small, short lived fire out of that, but it should be enough to dry, and ignite your tinder, which will dry and ignite to thin sticks.

The real trick is to have a lot of tinder that can be drying, and igniting as you go. You will need to really stock up on that and continually add it as the fire slowly grows. This will dry out and eventually ignite your fire wood.

It ain't easy, but it is the only method i have ever found any success with when trying to make fire in damp conditions.

[EDIT]
I have actually lit fires while it was still raining like this, but only in a very light drizzle.
 

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starting a fire is just like anything else, you have to understand the principles, then practice the fundamentals. A lot. I have managed to start fires with pretty much every method but friction. I need to find the time to make a bow/drill and practice it, because it appears to be the most difficult.

I will say though, that 75% of fire starting is getting good tinder and kindling, 15% is the construction of the fire, and only 10 percent is the firestarting method. The bottom line is, your method either produces embers or flames, or it doesn't. If it does the rest is up to your tinder. The correct choices of tinder can make the more difficult methods of fire starting seem much easier. This is why it is a good idea to include some in a survival kit. pre-charred cotton seems to work well, but there are a lot of choices. Experiment and see what works for you.
It is usually a relatively simple (if not work intensive) task to get good kindling, even in wet conditions. Standing deadwood can be harvested, or pretty much any larger log that isn't literally IN the water will have dry parts inside it if you split it open.

as you mentioned, you will want to collect your fuel BEFORE you start the fire. Collect as much as you think you will need, and then get 2 to 3 times as much. Fires burn through a deceptive amount of fuel.
 

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Here is a little tip I learned young. When cutting up that length of tree you absolutely do not have to chop all the way threw each section. I see this constantly watch these vids now days lots of wasted energy! Simply make notches going down one side of the tree then rolling it over make matching notches on the opposite side you would be surprised at how small a notch it takes! Anyways I then just either find two trees in close proximity and using them as a wedge break off the sections from the larger end then using them on the ground I smack the tree against a log on the ground just behind the notch the firewood just piles up! I can cut and stack a nights worth on wood this way in a matter of minutes barely breaking a sweat. I know this sounds very basic in a common sense sort of way but I have yet to see a video showing how to be efficient when cutting up firewood. You can also use this method with a saw but I prefer using the saw to fell the tree (only if necessary) since my sven saw can cut much faster than hacking any day! Wish I had a camcorder I'd put out one of these videos! GL guys
Your post reminded me of somebody i once read about..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah_John_Rondeau

This old dude used to do the same thing,chop partially thru spruce poles,then stack them,TeePee style.Called them "premeditated firewood".
 

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At last, something I know something about. Until life and marriage and stuff got in the way I used to spend a lot of time out in the woods in Indiana. At some point I went from surviving in the woods and enjoying the solitude dispite the hardship to being comfortable and really enjoying being there and the solitude. That was when I learned to start fires under pretty much any circumstances. In southern indiana there are is a lot of sassafrass (I think it was), anyway the top of the saplings are dead, and dry in the winter, great kindling. If you are in a sparsley populated area there should be no need to cut firewood, I never carried anything bigger than a pocket knife. Breaking long logs between two trees was my favorite trick, usually there is plenty of firewood that is very easy to pick up. dang I miss those days.
 

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It rained all night and is damp and foggy out here today, as usual. So I figured id try and make a fire with only what i carry along with me on a hike in the woods. Until now ive honestly never tried to make a fire in bad/wet conditions. I learned a couple of things..
Using a magnesium firestarter on wet tinder sucks. I spent a lot of energy trying to get the dryest grass i could find to light. i only had luck with the mag when i used a bit of lint from my pocket.. but i never had enough tider on hand to keep it going.

You need a lot of dry kindling to get a log to burn, i found a dead standing spruce that was ideal for kindling as it was mostly dried out inside.

Youll want to move whatever is your source of kindling close to your fire, i spent a lot of energy going back and forth once i got a fire lit, then i just pushed the old tree over and dragged it to my fire, things went a lot better after that.

I found that the only available wet tinder that would work was birchbark, seems to burn even when wet, if you peel off the outer layer the insides were fairly dry.

It takes a lot of swinging with that little camp axe to make up enough kindling, next time im bringing some leather gloves along.

you can never have enough water proof matches.

I think that if you havent, as was the case with me, you should go out in less than ideal conditions and practice making a fire, its tougher than it looks.
You were using a small axe, now imagine what it would have been like with a knife. This is why I tell people you can not simply replace an axe with a knife and that it's better to go smaller on the knife and carry a real hand axe.

Experience is the best teacer, and I've had a hell of a lot of experience!
 

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Maybe if you are in a state park. Out in the woods there is plenty of wood around. er at least where I live. I owned an axe, but it was not worth the weight.
 

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Here is a little tip I learned young. When cutting up that length of tree you absolutely do not have to chop all the way threw each section. I see this constantly watch these vids now days lots of wasted energy! Simply make notches going down one side of the tree then rolling it over make matching notches on the opposite side you would be surprised at how small a notch it takes! Anyways I then just either find two trees in close proximity and using them as a wedge break off the sections from the larger end then using them on the ground I smack the tree against a log on the ground just behind the notch the firewood just piles up! I can cut and stack a nights worth on wood this way in a matter of minutes barely breaking a sweat. I know this sounds very basic in a common sense sort of way but I have yet to see a video showing how to be efficient when cutting up firewood. You can also use this method with a saw but I prefer using the saw to fell the tree (only if necessary) since my sven saw can cut much faster than hacking any day! Wish I had a camcorder I'd put out one of these videos! GL guys

My old man (god rest his soul) taught me the same thing when I was a kid in the boy scouts. I've taught it to alot of other people over the years. Another thing that you rarely hear about is cutting woodem wedges to help splitting wood, so what it it's a one use thing if it saves you time in the end... It pays to take a few minutes and look at what you need to do before starting out as well, you'd be suprised at what you can come up with to make a job easier.
 

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Maybe if you are in a state park. Out in the woods there is plenty of wood around. er at least where I live. I owned an axe, but it was not worth the weight.
Today there are one piece forged stainless hand axes that weigh about as much as a Large Bowie. It's the shape of the face and the concentration of weight immediately behind the face that give you your chopping power. With a knife you dont have the concentration of the weight in one area, so you have to power through your stroke to make it work rather than using the laws of inertia to do the majority of the work. Not to mention a decent hand axe with a good edge can do almost everything a knife can,,, Ever see an ULU?
 

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Never heard of an ULU. I was just thinking my days in the woods are nearly 30 years ago. Lots of things mighta changed.
 

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Never heard of an ULU. I was just thinking my days in the woods are nearly 30 years ago. Lots of things mighta changed.
An Ulu is an extremely old inuit knife design, that is essentally a handless hand axe. it's used as a cleaver, skinner, slicer, chopper, scraper, you name it... it's one of the most versitile knife designs around. a good hand axe can be used the exact same way. Cheap axes that are nothing more than oversized wedges on a handle are only good for chopping. You need to know what you are looking for when buying tools and hand axes are no exception.
 

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A friend of mine was stuck in the woods during a rain. He wanted to get a fire started, so, he found a dead tree and went to the north side of the tree. There he pealed back the bark and found losts of spider webs. He gathered as much of the spiders webs as he could and used that as tinder to start a fire. He told me that it went up like a cotton ball.

I have not tried that way yet. But I hope to have the opportunity in the near future.
 

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O I have heard of an ULU, I work for the govt and seen 3 capital letters together and was thinking like Urban Lopping Utensil or something. I onwned a nice hand axe back then, but really I thought it was just as easy when hiking keeping an eye out for deadfalls and other useful stuff when deciding where to camp. This is nice, I have not thought about this stuff for many many years.
 

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Indeed, this reminds of my boy scout camping days, when we had to do this stuff all the time, on pretty much every campout. But, in the last 20 years I can count on one hand the number of times I've had to make a fire in less than optimal conditions, due to the wonders of compact backpacking stoves & lighters, and you reminded me this is a skill I need to work on. The best thing is, I can work on it today, in my backyard!

HippieSurvivalist
 

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Cattails but it takes a ton of them and u usually get your feet wet. As i hiked I collected tender as I went. Bark, many grasses, pine needles, so many things make good fires. Depends on the season too.
 

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Like I said it has been many many years but it is really nice to know if it is 10 degrees and you are miles from anywhere and you fall in the creek you aint gonna die, at least not that night. Always carry a flint and steel, does not matter how wet it gets, wind and rain are a problem but can be done at the base of a very big tree. dang this is quite the flashback.
 
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