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Starting a Fire

When traveling on foot and with wet clothes from either rain or sweat, it is most important to try to make camp early and build a fire. It will greatly help one's psyche, not to mention greatly helping to provide dry clothing to start the next day. It will also be necessary to distill the next day's water for drinking. In two of the survival field trips I attended, I was able to start a fire using the "bow drill" technique with only charcoal powder for "starting tinder". This is also a good reason to carry some amount of cotton material in your pack inside a zip lock bag. Charred cotton is the very best "starting tinder" I've ever used or heard about. On many occasions I've been able to start a fire using a small piece of charred cotton cloth as the "starting tinder" with a single spark.

The dry tinder is only necessary to get a fire going well, at which point wet wood can be slowly added which the fire will quickly dry out. The main problem I see with starting and maintaining a fire in the aftertime is the soaked muddy ground. A solution could be to carry a metal garbage can lid, and then build your fire on it when inverted. One reason for using a tarp instead of a tent is so that it can be set up with the top extending out from the "floor" section and high enough that a small fire can be build under the tarp, protecting it from rain. One can also easily make a stove from an empty paint can, providing ventilation to the inside using sheet metal shears. If one is carrying a section of corrugated metal for use in the event of a fire storm, this can also be used as a dry base for the camp fire.

Offered by Ron.

So far, the best way I have seen to start a fire, is to take some wet leaves or wet wood chips and sprinkle some magnesium-aluminum alloy powder on them and use the spark of a flit to start it. It often takes only one spark. It makes a very hot reaction and instantly bursts into flames. The water actually helps make the flame hotter. This type of fire starter is sold at most camping stores. One takes a knife and scrapes off a small pile of magnesium-aluminum chips and then uses a knife blade to scrape on the attached flint to start the fire. As soon as a spark from the flint hits the Magnesium-aluminum the thing instantly starts burning. A match is not hot enough to start the reaction but a flint spark is. This has the advantage of bypassing the wet-match problem. Cost is about $5-$6 and is very light weight. Size measures about 3-4" long by 1" by about .5".

Offered by Mike.