Finding and Using Fire Starting Materials in the Wilderness
In the wilderness, fire is your best friend. It cooks food and sterilizes water. It dries wet socks and lifts sunken spirits. Fire is comfort in the dark when every night sound beyond camp is something lurking. But when you’re out of cotton balls and esbit tablets fire won’t cut you a break.
And if you intend to survive, no matter the odds, you need to know how to find and use the fire starting tools available all around you. We’re talking wild-foraged tinder and kindling – the bushcrafters’ bread and butter.
Before you trundle off into the brush to practice the timeless task of producing fire, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. When it comes to producing fire with nothing but natural materials and a ferrocerium rod (ferro rod) you’ll need two main things: tinder and kindling. Without one, the other is just about useless and you’re in the dark. So, let’s define.
Tinder is dry and fluffy – the stuff of any good fire. It’s where the first flicker of flame or white smoldering wisp comes into play. Tinder can be simple dead, dried grass and leaves or processed fungi. Finding tinder is the first step to making fire.
Let’s start off simple with one you probably already know. If the weather’s been dry lately you’re sure to find more than enough dead and dried plant matter to start a fire. Dry grass, ferns, and leaves can make great, easy to find tinder with just a little processing.