The ability to start a fire under survival conditions can save your life. The inability can cost your life.
by Leon Pantenburg
There is an interesting firemaking paradox where I live in Central Oregon. In the summer, it can be very hard to keep from making a fire in the woods. During the winter, it is probably going to be very hard to get a fire going.
But Murphy’s Law states that the more desperately you need a fire, the harder it will be to get one started. If you get wet during a sleet storm, fall in a stream or need a fire to fight off hypothermia, you need a fire ASAP, and you need to know where to find dry tinder and small sticks.
Assuming you have a trustworthy fire ignition system, and some reliable firestarter, you are ready to get started. But the missing component may be the small DRY tinder, twigs and bark to take your survival fire from the ignition stage to where the flame is big enough to start burning intermediate sticks.
Generally speaking, if the weather is bad, you need to look for dry tinder on the dry side of the tree. This is easily found: just find the area that is out of the wind and rain.
- Find tiny, dry twigs and sticks. Ideally, they should snap crisply. Gather at least enough to fill your hat. Then double it.
- Peel off outer bark and remove the dry inner bark.
- Find bigger, dry sticks you can whittle down to fine tinder the size of a match stick.
- Gather bigger pieces of firewood.
If you have a reliable ignition system, you should be able to get a fire going quickly.
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