Fire without matches

I like to try things when I go for walks in the woods. Last week the goal was to set a fire without matches or paper. I had a knife and a fire steel.

I took a bunch of birch bark and scrape the back of it until it made a powder. Then collected crackly peices of pine from fallen trees in incrementally larger sizes until about thumb size. The only goal was to get a fire going that I knew I could reasonably build up, and then put it out.

Anyways, here’s the results after about 5 minutes of effort. Its really not that hard. Next goal is to make a fire bow…

I know you were just experimenting but if this were real, remember to build a log platform for your fire if building on snow… :slight_smile:

Good job, btw… from material selection to technique, you seem to have it dialed.

There’s actually a tiny log platform below it, of thumbsized sticks. But as soon as it started going you could tell it wasn’t thick enough. Could also have dug down with snow shoe, but then I guess i’d get melted water coming in too.

I used to use flint a lot back in the day.

I have made a hand fire drill, and a bow drill. Make sure the plank is good and dry, you cut a good coal channel, and the straighter the stick you can find for the drill, the better! Hand drills can give you nasty blisters on the hands if it’s too wet/damp/wrong wood. Take way too long to get some good coals going. You can gear up a mouth piece as well. It makes things a bit easier.

Tinder. Birch bark is great, but you really sometimes even need something prior to that as well. That said, I have a jacket with a pocket full of birch bark just for emergencies. Anywho, look for sawdust from bugs at the base of trees, It usually leads up to some loose bark that will have a nice stash of mostly dry sawdust from bugs munching on the wood. Also, pocket lint, lint pulled from socks, sweaters, etc, is a good one too. I have even built a fire from steel wool pulled apart and a 9V battery shorted on the wool before as well.

Keep in mind, the best fire starting methods all require a few things to master.

Practice. Do it now before you have to do it with a broken arm inside a wrecked Twin Otter. Do it lots.
Materials. No sense getting it started, only to burn out with improper fuel, or not enough to sustain it.
Conditions. In the open in wind and rain is never ideal. Also, as Ken has mentioned, think about what’s under it. Wet rocks can literally explode from steam expansion. Being blinded in an already bad situation can be disastrous. Having it happen in the backyard while showing off for Youtube can still suck. There are many fire types as well, all for different uses, different conditions, different materials. Hunter/trapper, trench fire, tee-pee fire, log cabin type, reflector fire, etc.

I love woodcraft. Keep stuff like this coming!

Very cool indeed.