The Wilderness Enlightenment School

How to Build a Fire




The ability to consistently and quickly build a fire in Nature is a fundamental skill set that all who venture into the wilderness should possess. I use the term build a fire instead of start a fire, because building a fire is exactly what is require to cook food or heat the body. The objective of "Building a Fire" is to bring and gather the correct natural material for the job and quickly transition into cooking food and/or heating oneself. Since we are in nature The Wilderness Enlightenment School attempts to make use of natures renewable resources. We seek to move far beyond the popular speak of survival, which implies that one is nearly existing and into the realm of sustainable thriving! With these concepts in mind, I will began with my explanation of "Building a Fire.

I am a firm believer in bringing a reasonable amount of tinder with me and harvesting dry standing deadwood because it is highly combustible and using it as kindling and fuel. The preferred choice material for small fuel and large fuel is a standing dead tree that no longer has bark on it. These hardwood trees will look like a giant bone protruding from the ground. The hardwood tree should be solid and not crumble when struck with an axe. To harvest these trees we will need a well made, sharp ax/hatchet or tomahawk. If you do not prefer an edged tool, you will need a buck saw, bow saw, or folding saw to cut down the dead standing hardwood  into manageable sections.

Dividing the fuel into separate groups based on size

  • shavings = Tinder
  • finger size sticks = Kindling
  • two finger size sticks = Small Fuel
  • wrist size sticks = Small Fuel
  • arm size sticks = Large Fuel
  • thigh sized logs = Large Fuel

All of this splitting and sectioning should take place on as dry a surface as possible, like a large section of tree bark, a shallow dry hole, or several logs. Since the wind is always blowing, one should find a location that does not receive the full force of then wind and position himself so that the wind is blowing towards his back.

From here the person ignites the tinder (shavings) and then the kindling and continues to add larger and larger pieces until the desired size fire is built. Oxygen is needed to maintain a fire and can be increased by fanning with a brimmed hat, blowing with your mouth or using a non-flammable tube as a blower.

There are many types of fires which are used while we are out in Nature, and each is better suited for one task over another. There are fires for cooking, fires for heating, fires for signalling and fires for simply keeping bugs away. Whatever the purpose of your fire it is important that you build it based on a particular task. Building fires is a skill that must be developed over time and can only be mastered with repeated use and under various conditions. Everyone should be mindful that each person is different and will build their fire based on their level of understanding and personal taste. As The Wilderness Enlightenment School grows, we will add videos to assist newer people in developing their skills and offer options.





Our Motto is "Get Out and Stay Out"