Just about anyone can start a fire in their backyard when the sun is shining, the wind is light, and the kindling is dry. The real test of fire starting expertise happens when the weather conspires against you to thwart any attempts to start a fire. As they say, when you need the fire the most is when the fire is the hardest to start. Unfortunately, many outdoor enthusiasts have perished in poor weather conditions simply because they couldn’t get a fire going to keep them warm. And that doesn’t have to be the case.
When the weather gets bad, you are going to need sure-fire ways to get a fire started to prevent yourself from succumbing to the cold. Since building a fire in a survival situation is so important, we wanted to give our readers some advice on how they can not only improve their fire building proficiency but the information they need to not only build a fire on a warm, sunny summer day but also build one in the depths of a snowstorm or while they’re being ravaged by thunderstorms.
First Bit Of Advice: Practice Before You Need It
Before we share the tips and tricks that people need to know to build a fire in particular weather conditions, we thought that we’d take a few moments first to give probably the best piece of advice we can offer in this article. And that piece of advice is to practice, practice, and then practice building a fire some more.
The truth of the matter is that the only way anyone becomes good at building a fire is by doing it and not by reading about it. Anyone serious about their fire building needs to put in the work and practice making fires. And not just when it’s nice outside, but also when it’s raining, snowing, or sleeting. That’s the only way to become an expert fire builder. Now that we’ve said that, let’s move on to the practical advice.
Invest In The Best Tools Available
The next piece of advice that we’d like to give our readers is to invest in some of the best fire-starting tools they can find. Everyone should buy some tools that help them harvest wood, tools that help them ignite a spark and tools that help them turn that spark into a roaring fire. Let’s take a closer look at some of the tools that are going to be needed.
For chopping wood, a person is probably going to want to invest in a good Hatchet, Axe, Tomahawk, or Kukri. Going out into the wild with one or more of these tools will enable a person to harvest the large pieces of wood that they’re going to need to keep a fire going.
For creating a spark, the outdoor enthusiast is probably going to want to invest in a good Fire Starter. These include not only the aim and strike Ferrocerium Rods, but also waterproof matches, Zippo lighters, and Blast Matches. All of these are good tools for starting a fire.
Lighting tinder when weather conditions are wet and/or snowy can be a real pain, however, and that’s why most people are going to also want to have some tinder around as well. There are several great tinder products available and those include FatWood Sticks, Hemp Tinder Tubes, Pyro Putty, and GreenSpark Bundles. The flakes off of Magnesium Rods are also great at starting fires.
Of course, if a person doesn’t want to buy commercially available tinder, they can make their own instead. This can be done by putting Vaseline on cotton balls and then placing them in a waterproof container or dipping them into paraffin wax to make them waterproof.
Be Sure To Split Your Sticks
Sometimes the best thing that a person can do to get a fire going in poor weather conditions is to whittle their sticks down as much as possible. By turning sticks into smaller pieces, they’re easier to burn, and therefore, are easier to get started.
Lift Your Fire Off The Ground
If it’s been raining or the ground is wet from melting snow, then you are going to want to raise your fire off the ground. After all, if you try to put dry kindling down on the wet ground, the wood is just going to draw the moisture into itself. Try to avoid using rocks to elevate your fire because sandstone, river rocks, and gravel can explode if they get too hot. Instead, use limbs to make a foundation for your fire before actually building the proper pile of firewood.
Gather The Best Limbs
Another trick is to find limbs that haven’t been soaking up water for a week. These can be found by looking for small limbs that are sheltered by larger limbs and for limbs that are on the side of the tree that faces the sun the majority of the day.
Harvesting limbs or bark from resinous trees are also a good way to get kindling. Pine, spruce, and fir trees have a flammable pitch that can help the fire start quicker—even in semi-damp or damp conditions. Peeling the outer bark off of branches will expose dry wood that’s just waiting to be ignited.
Build A Fire Cone
Most people make fires wrong in the first place, so anyone looking to start a fire in bad weather is going to want to change their fire building method. Most people use a low lying kindle configuration that doesn’t allow enough oxygen to flow around the branches. In our opinion, a fire cone is the best way to build a fire.
What’s a fire cone? A fire cone is a tipi-shaped in which the base is as wide as the sticks are high. Sticks are laid vertically around the base and the end configuration should have a rough pyramid shape. This will allow the heat to rise from the bottom of the fire to dry out the sticks from the base to the top. As the sticks dry, they eventually catch fire, too. This configuration allows fires to be easily built in just about any weather conditions.