Making a fire (for beginners)

What differentiate man and animals is that we have tools. Having a tool to start a fire is very important as starting a fire from sticks and stones are nearly impossible, especially for beginners.

The tools you should always have includes:

Materials that should be brought and searched for includes:

  • Tinder: Tinder are materials that is easily flammable and can ignite easily using a match or by having a spark. (paper, paper towels, dry roots, dry grass)
  • Kindling: Kindling are bigger materials than tinder and is less flammable, yet is still easy to ignite. (small branches, twigs, dry leaves)
  • Fire wood: Larger materials that is used to sustain or increase the flames. (big chunks can be cut down using a pocket saw)
  • Hand Sanitizers (for fire and sanitization)
  • Lighter fluids (optional)

These tools and materials will be used to make fire making easier.

The first thing you need to do is find the perfect spot. It has to be near your campsite and also near where the wood source is for easy collecting, but it should have distance from other flammable materials so forest fire won’t start.  Then, start by gathering the materials needed. Tinder, kindling, and fire wood will have to be ready by your side. When all things needed are ready, you can then start making the fire.

Fire making using lighters and matches.

wood fire hot glow
Photo by Skitterphoto on

This method of fire making is the easiest amongst other because the tool itself creates fire. Start by making a ball of tinder using shredded paper and dry grass. Curl it up in your hand and use the lighter or matches to burn it. After a few seconds the fire will be bigger and the tinder will be reduced to ashes. Add more tinder to the burning fire and carefully set it down to the campfire spot you chose. When the fire gets bigger, it’s time to add more tinder with some kindling on them. Add dry leaves, twigs, and small branches until the flame goes bigger. When it does, it’s time to slowly add more kindling and start adding bigger woods that can be obtained by cutting small trees or finding dead ones and cutting it with a pocket saw. Add smaller woods and patiently wait for it to burn. Do not leave the fire until you are very sure that it will grow. Finally, gradually add more wood fire and maintain the fire by adding woods and kindling until you don’t need it anymore.

Fire making using flint.

person curving wood
Photo by Lum3n on

A flint fire starter is important to bring while outdoors. Not only is it affordable, but it is also easy to bring. Usually, a flint fire starter comes with their own steel. However, it can be replaced by the dull side of the knife. To use the flint, you just need to use the steel given, or the dull side of the blade to strike the flint. By striking it, spark will be created. By knowing this, use the flint and steel to spark a ball of tinder. Place the ball of tinder on the campfire spot and place the flint right on it as if it’s standing. Then use the steel and strike the flint down towards the ball of tinder. This might take a few tries and if done correctly, smoke will come out of the ball of tinder and it means that the ignition process has started. You have to maintain the smoke and don’t let it die out. Slowly, blow softly into the ball and after a few seconds, it will get hotter, and more smoke will come out. Add more tinder and blow more into it. Seconds passed and fire is created. Add more tinder and gradually add kindling and woods to make it bigger.

Fire making using signal mirrors.

mirror fragments on gray surface with the reflection of a person s arm
Photo by Thiago Matos on

This method takes the longest time to do and should only be use if you’re out of options. It takes time and luck to be able to produce fire with this method. Start by getting your survival mirror ready and be in direct sunlight. Sunlight is key for this to work so the only time you can do this is when the sun shines the brightest. Prepare a ball of tinder as usual and set all the other flammables, kindles, and woods aside and ready. Place the ball of tinder on the ground and ready the survival mirror or any mirror. Use the mirror on your hand to reflect the sunlight above you. At some point, the mirror will create a focus point and point this focus point onto the ball of tinder. A steady hand is required here. After a while, if done correctly, smoke will start to rise from the ball of tinder and this is the cue where you have to start blowing gently into the ball of tinder. This might take a while and patient is the key for this to be successful. By doing this over and over, the ball of tinder will be ignited and it’s time to add more tinder and kindling. Add more kindling and slowly add bigger type of woods. After a while, a camp fire will be made by using a mirror.

How to make a great campfire.
The surrounding of a campfire is important. Finding the perfect spot means that it’s not too far away from fuel sources but it’s not too close to other flammables such as dry grass or branches. Also, a flat dry surface is important for it will make it easier to build a fire in it. Place rocks as big as your hand and make a circle. This way, the fire will be easier to contain so that it won’t spread and create problems. Lastly, tinder, kindling, and firewood should be kept neatly and separately. It will be needed and the last thing people need is a messy camp fire.

Photo by Emre Kuzu on


-Using hand sanitizer or lighter fluid as fuel for your fire is one of the quickest ways to start a fire. It contains alcohol which is highly flammable and when ignited, it will last for a couple of seconds giving time for you to add tinder and kindling. It also is useful to disinfect a wound (if the hand sanitizer contains more than 60% alcohol) and can be used to clean oneself.

-On a rainy day, fire making will be a hard thing to do. All the materials gathered will be wet. So, to create tinder, find wood that is quite thick. Then cut it into quarters using a pocket saw. Then, use your knife to shave the wood itself and creates dry wood shavings that is highly flammable and perfect for fire making.

Experience is the best teacher and failing is inevitable. But only by failing will one actually learn. In the end, we have to be prepared and those who are experienced are the one who will survive.

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