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Making Fire

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Fire serves many roles in wilderness survival. Fire provides light and warmth and is essential for cooking food and purifying water. A good survival kit should contain all of the necessary items to start a fire. You should always add waterproof matches, a butane lighter and paper to your survival kit.

Using manual friction techniques to start a fire from scratch is nearly an impossible task for most novices. If you would like to learn about these techniques, consult Chapter 7 ("Firecraft") of the U.S. Army Survival Manual.

The following are more realistic ways to start a fire:

  • Matches
  • Butane lighter
  • Striking two stones together next to dry twigs and grass
  • Using a magnifying glass (or any convex lens) to focus the sun's rays onto dry twigs or paper

For tinder use:

  • Dead grass
  • Dry twigs
  • Dead tree bark
  • Dry moss
  • Evergreen needles
  • Paper
  • Clothing

To start a fire:

  • Pile your tinder material tepee style.
  • Leave enough room between the tinder to allow oxygen to pass (remember: oxygen is the fuel that allows a fire to burn).
  • Light the tinder in multiple places.
  • Rub the tinder with candle wax to prolong the fire.

DO NOT burn poison oak or other poisonous plants.

For more detailed information about fire making, see Chapter 7 ("Firecraft") of the U.S. Army Survival Manual.


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