The Last Guide You'll Ever Need

Start a Fire: Part 1

In Post-Apocalypse on October 13, 2008 at 9:54 am

“Stop these patronizing posts!” You’re saying. “I know how to build a fire.” I bet you do, but in the coming apocalypse you may have problems finding butane refills for your lighter. Also, starting a fire is tough to do when you need one. Most folks can get a rolling fire going to cook their s’mores, but when its 30 below and your hands are blue it can be a bit tougher. The most important thing is to keep your head. Don’t rush to find the closest burnables available. If they are damp you’re going to waste valuable time. Find small pieces of wood and bark. Birch bark will burn when wet and will be the post-apocalyptic currency so collect it when you see it. Leave those big logs behind. I know you want to build a huge fire, but the bigger the log the more water it’s going to have inside and water doesn’t burn so well. Big logs will burn longer but if it’s heat you’re after, small branches burn with more intensity because they are more easily consumed.

Pick a good place your fire. Stay out of the wind of course, and maybe try to find a boulder to build your fire next to. This will reflect some of that heat back on to you. You’re not working to heat the out of doors…

Take your time to prepare a good base for your fire. That means taking those wet logs you found earlier and place them side by side on the ground. This will give an area for the coals (which is the real heat source) to settle. Also, if you’re building this fire on a snowbank, this will keep the fire from melting and sinking into the snow. 

Next spend more time creating a ‘nest’ for your first spark or flame to inhabit. This is really the most important part. Spend the extra time to find small leaves, bark or rope and create a small nest. This is where your flame is going to start, so you don’t want to half-ass this and have to do it again so do it right the first time.

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  1. Dear Survivor,
    Maybe you should list common household items that would burn well… I imagine that I’m going to be too busy fighting zombies outside my fortress to go around and gather kindling.
    Future King of Upper Michigan

  2. Books burn very poorly, which is strange because they are paper. Burn news papers sheet by sheet, but save cloth.

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