On a bone-dry day or when there’s plenty of dry paper or fire-starter, anyone can make a fire. If the weather deteriorates to a persistent rain, they might get smoke. But that’s no guarantee they’ll get fire. Here’s how you can make a fire when the woods are wet with rain.
This method isn’t fast, but it works with any kind of wood — even damp wood. You’ll need a:
- Sharp knife. To split fine kindling, set the sharpened edge of the knife on the end of an upright piece of wood then pound the spine through with a thick stick. Use a folding knife with a secure lock so the blade won’t close on your hand when you pound on the spine.
- Folding saw.
- Small hatchet to use as a splitting wedge, never as a chopper.
Saw the limb into footlong sections and split each section into kindling. The hatchet should be used as a splitting wedge so there’s no chance of an accident.
Splitting wood is easier (and safer) with two people. Hold the hatchet with both hands and have a friend knock it through.
Hold the hatchet firmly with both hands and allow a friend with a log chunk to pound the hatchet head through.
Use that same procedure (with a lighter log) to split fine kindling with your knife. Then, use your knife to prepare your tinder. Cut a handful of wafer-thin shavings from your dry splittings.
Now that you’ve reached the dry part of the wood splittings, slice off several wafer-thin shavings to use as tinder.
Assemble the tinder (a handful of dry wood shavings no thicker than a match), kindling (one-eighth to one-quarter-inch thick dry wood splittings) and fuel (quarter-split logs). Trim all bark and damp wood from your tinder and kindling, and separate your wood into piles — tinder, kindling and fuel.
If it’s raining, work under a tarp so that all the materials stay dry.
- Carry a candle and chemical fire-starters.
- Cotton balls dipped in Vaseline, a flattened wax milk carton and cigar-size newspaper logs that have been dipped into melted paraffin make good fire-starters. Don’t use loose newspaper pages; they absorb moisture on damp days.
- Make a “fire blower” as a bellows to nurse a developing flame by attaching a 6-inch piece of aluminum or copper tubing to a piece of rubber hose.
Build It Right
- Set two 1-inch-thick sticks about 6 inches apart on the ground (see the figure at right). Place four pencil-thin support sticks across the base. Space the support sticks about half an inch apart.
- Stack an inch-thick layer of wafer-thin shavings on top of the support sticks. Leave some space between each shaving to allow for airflow. Set two half-inch thick “bridge” sticks across each end of the base structure to support the heavier kindling you’ll add next.
- Place fine, split kindling across the support sticks. Splittings should be parallel to one another with plenty of space in between. They should not compress the tinder below.
- Apply your match directly underneath the tinder (shavings). When the first flame appears, hand feed shavings (not kindling) into the developing flame. Don’t add kindling until you have a reliable blaze. The raised firebase will produce a powerful draft that creates a bright, smoke-free flame.
Watch the video below.