Wilderness Survival: Start Your Fire Right

Whether you light your fires with a spark rod, lighter or a plain old match – you need to light the same material, tinder. Typically dead, dry plant-based material, tinder is the stuff that turns a coal, ember or spark into a flame. Tinder is the foundation for fire making, and it should have several things in common.

1. It should all be dead, but usually not rotten, plant-based materials. Rotten plants usually lose more and more of their fuel value as they decompose. But there are always exceptions.  Just remember … dead plant-based materials.

2. It should be as dry as it possibly can be. In rainy weather this may mean finding a few scraps at a time, even one leaf at a time, and KEEPING the tinder dry while you search for more.

3. It should be light, airy and have a lot of surface area for its mass. In other words, it needs to be fluffy. Materials that are not fluffy should be processed in some way to increase their surface area so that they can reach their combustion temperature as quickly as possible.

These tips and many more survival tips are in MacWelch’s books: Prepare For Anything – the Hunting & Gathering Survival Manual – and How To Survive Anything

Follow him on Twitter @timmacwelch

And check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles in Outdoor Life Magazine.

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