Fire craft

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The fire is used for heat, cooking, light and keeping wildlife away. There are a lot of different ways to start and maintain a fire. Safety is really important when handling fire, you do not want to set fire to yourself, your camp or start a wild fire.

Fire fundamentals[edit]

Fire triangle[edit]

The fire triangle. Image credit:

The fire triangle is a simple model to explain the components needed to make a fire. The components are oxygen, fuel and heat. If one of the components is missing a fire cannot live. In order to start a fire these components has to be added to the fire and for the fire to live a supply of the components needs to added.

To extinct the fire you must remove one of the components, oxygen can be removed by covering the fire with dirt or a fireproof blanket, fuel can be removed by letting the fuel burn out and heat can be removed by pouring water over the fire.

Smoke emission[edit]

The primary reason for a fire emitting a lot of smoke is that the fire does not burn properly, which makes the gases not combust when leaving the wood.

Factors for this can be:

  • The temperature of the fire is too low (blow air into the fire)
  • The wood is damp which makes it hard to raise the temperature (use dry dead wood instead of green wood)
  • The fire does not get a good enough oxygen flow

Fire starter tools[edit]


A normal $1 lighter from BIC, does the job really well, easy to use and cheap. Just try to make sure that the lighter you have bought works well, some brands has quite low quality. If you are thinking of using Zippo lighter, make sure to carry a BIC backup since Zippos are less reliable and you need to maintain them so they do not dry out, the benefit of using a Zippo is that it's more eco-friendly and the fact that you do not burn your thumb if you need to keep the flame living for a while.


Safety matches or strike anywhere matches, also a convenient method to start a fire similar to the lighter.

Ferrocerium Rod[edit]

Ferro rods are commonly used by outdoor enthusiasts to start fires. The rod is covered in the metallic ferrocerium which creates sparks when scraped against a hard surface such as back of a knife. Benefits for using a ferro rod compared to a butane lighter are that it will work well in harsh climates such as high altitude, cold weather and windy conditions. Cons are that it weights a bit more, needs to be operated with two hands and, can be a bit less convenient and is generally more expensive. [1][2][3]

Bow Drill[edit]

Bow drill image with explanations

Bow Drills has been used for fire craft for at least 7 millennia, it works by using friction in the movement of the drill shaft and the board to create dust and ember, the ember is then moved to your tinder where oxygen is added to create a fire. In order to create dust and friction you want the drill and board to be of soft materials, while the hand piece should be of hard material to have as little friction as possible.



Flint and Steel[edit]

Using flint and steel is a traditional method of fire craft, it has been used for at least 5000 years.[1] The concept is to strike a rock such as flint, quartz och chert on the sharp edge of a slightly softer metal to form sparks. The sparks generated will not be as hot as with an ferro rod, only about 800f/420c. Therefore a fungus or charred material must be used as tinder.[2]

Worth mentioning is that naturally occurring flint cannot be found everywhere in the world, some places has an abundance and some none at all.

How to start a fire with Flint and Steel:

  • Hold the tinder on the flint in your hand, the steel in your other
  • Strike the flint with the steel keeping a loose wrist
  • Blow on the sparks that land on the tinder until it ignites
  • Move the tinder to your kindling when you get a fire started in the tinder


Other resources[edit]


  2. Canterbury, Dave (2014). Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival. Adams Media. ISBN-10: 1440579776