When you are amid the great outdoors, be it camping, backpacking, or even mountain biking. You could face a time when you need to start a fire.
Matches and a lighter can suffice until you hit foul weather, and you quickly discover learning how to start a fire is a beneficial skill.
You can keep warm, dry clothes, cook, and boil water for purification in an emergency with a decent fire. They say fire can be a lifesaver, and if you ever face a survival situation or times when you’re cold, you’ll understand how true this is.
To make sure you can start a fire in any condition, our guide shows how to use a firestarter. By the end, you’ll see why these small investments are a great thing to have in your camping essentials.
You will also discover the right way how to start a fire with a fire starter as it can take some practice.
Type of Fire Starter
You can find many variations of fire starters on the market, which can consist of Magnesium, Flint and Ferrocerium. However, of all the types of fire starters, you often find the magnesium fire starter is the most common firestarter survival tool you can get.
Here’s a quick rundown of each type:
Ferrocerium consists of a pyrophoric alloy comprising iron, magnesium, lanthanum and cerium. Using these will deliver a vast shower of sparks. Compare these to flint, which delivers fewer sparks.
When you look at magnesium, you need to gather a small pile of shavings to get a light, although these can be the most affordable option for many campers.
Start A Fire With Magnesium
Because there are so many types of fire starters, we will use one magnesium fire starter brand, which offers the middle of the road for composition and lighting ability.
Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to use these fire starters, and then you can see how to use this to create your survival fire.
Prepare Fire Site
Pick an area that is suitable to make a fire. Make sure to check the wind, rain and most of all, fire safety. Depending on where you are, you can use pre-existing fire sites or fire pits.
Collect Wood & Tinder
You need a dry base for your fire, or you can struggle no matter what fire starter you use. Dry bark, twigs, or dry grass is suitable for your dry tinder. Be sure to collect lots of small twigs and branches so you can build your fire without smothering it. (Learn How to Make Coffee When Camping)
One thing you need to use many types of fire starter is a decent knife. A fixed blade knife is more suitable than a pocket knife. Slowly, shave or grind magnesium into one area so it is ready to be placed on your tinder.
Keep your magnesium in a sheltered spot, or the wind could blow it away. Build up a pile roughly the size of a quarter.
Spark Your Tinder
As with the Coghlans in the example or many other fire starter models, you create the sparks from one side of the magnesium block. To do this, strike your blade on the embedded Ferro rod.
You’ll find it best to control your sparks by moving the Ferro up as you hold your blade steady. One thing to be wary of is not upsetting your little pile of tinder and magnesium striker, as you will be around this with the end of your hand and striker as you scrape on the edge of the kit.
Rather than blunting your blade, you can use the back of the knife blade to spark the Ferro or grind the magnesium. If you only have a pocket knife, you will need first to close the knife and use the metal to create your spark shower.
Build Your Fire
As the sparks fall onto the magnesium, you have a scorching and short-lived fire. Here, you need to be quick as you need to be getting the grass and small sticks burning.
How to Build a Fire
Find a Fire Ring
Campgrounds often have fire rings, grills or fireplaces and using a fire ring will reduce your impact on the environment.
If camping in an undeveloped site, check if a campfire is permitted.
Before starting a fire, check the area for low-hanging branches or lots of dry grass. Keep the fire small in dry conditions so that embers won’t ignite the area.
Gather Your Fire Wood
For a decent fire, you’ll need three types of fuel comprising tinder, kindling and firewood.
- Tinder is small twigs, dry leaves, and other dry matter
- Kindling comprises small sticks about 1/2 inch in width
- Firewood will be larger pieces of wood to keep your fire going
Gather only fallen wood as wildlife will make use of dead branches. Use thin branches as if they are too thick; they are often unburned. Finally, always follow Leave No Trace principles when finding wood.
Build Your Campfire
Start making a small cone of kindling that has a few handfuls of tinder.
You can use the log cabin style of fire starting to help stop the wind. Place two bigger wood pieces parallel to each other, leaving room between to form the base.
Add two smaller pieces at a 90-degree angle. Once the fire is burning strong and temperatures increase, you can add bigger wood pieces as required.
Light Your Campfire
Light the tinder using your chosen firestarter, which ignites the tinder and magnesium shavings to catch the flame in any weather conditions.
Once you light your tinder, you’ll need to blow at the base of the fire to add oxygen. Doing so can help increase the flame intensity to ignite your wood further.
Besides these magnesium fire starters, you can also purchase a Will Light Fire Starter; sticks and wood are placed all around these small tins where you then light the fuse. These can work on wood and grass that wouldn’t otherwise burn. (Read Things to Do While Camping)
You can pack one of these for an emergency, and the downside is, they are only one use. A striker is a better and environmentally friendly option is the conditions are not too bad to get a fire going.