After a long period of silence, I apologize for taking so long to follow through with this series of Wilderness Survival. I’d like to continue this by giving a few thoughts on fire. This is a perishable skill and also very important. This skill can be used in several of the priorities which I’ll elaborate upon. I once heard this statement and its stuck with me on its importance, “Fire is food, fire is water and fire is shelter”. This statement means that fire can make food edible such as cooking a harvested squirrel over a fire. Fire can boil water to a point that it kills the bacteria, protozoa, parasites or whatever the concern, to make it drinkable. Fire can be used to raise our body temperature to ward off hypothermia. Fire can also be used as a signal for rescuers. Having this skill certainly boosts your Positive Mental Attitude too! Building a fire in warm and dry weather is not a difficult task but who really needs one in that type of weather? When we need it most, the weather conditions make it more difficult. You should be able to build a knee high fire in the rain as a minimum. Here is the latest person’s posting of building a fire in the rain from Bushcraft USA:
A couple of tools you might want to have for firecraft are a good firesteel and a magnesium bar. Both are generally impervious to the elements and work well even when wet. They don’t require fuel and although it takes practice to get right, you shouldn’t leave home without at least one. Firesteel is more commonly known as a ferrocerium rod, and I tend to prefer larger ones. NC Scout uses one that is a half inch in diameter, and he’s had it for a long time. With magnesium bars, there’s a lot of cheap ones on the market but don’t waste your time with them. Get the US made one by Doan. It’s standard issue for military survival kits and the magnesium is real. It burns better and hotter than the Chinese imitations.
One thing you should always be looking for in the woods is good tinder. Hardwoods are good for longer fires, but when getting a fire started you should be looking for fatwood. Some people also call it lighter knot. Its the wood left in the stump of a dead pine or cedar. The sap collects in the wood which makes an amber colored wood that will light on fire in almost any condition and gets super hot. I take a piece and make a pile of fine shavings which is very easy to light. If you know where to look for it, nature will reward you with everything you need to make a good fire.
I have attended a number of wilderness survival schools that put more tools in my toolbox and that involves travel, time and money. I did come across one forum that allows you to develop your survival skills free of charge so if its free, its for me. The forum is called Bushcraft USA. There is a sub-forum on that site called, “Bushclass USA”. There is a number of tasks called, Basic Bushclass, Intermediate Bushclass and Advanced Bushclass. Although there are other tasks to accomplish besides fire, I suggest you complete all the tasks for the tab. The only cost is the price of the tab and you do it all on your own time. Once you get started, you can look at the instructor’s example and other forum member’s examples. These postings can explain firecraft better than I can in one post. You only submit a still photo of your task to get credit. There is another forum that is separate from Bushclass called “Hardwoodsman Challenge”. Those are tasks that you submit by YouTube video only. I would suggest completing at least Basic Bushclass before jumping into that.