Earthchangers College

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Fire Building. What are your Fire Starting, Fire Nurturing, Hearth Keeping tips?

Many people here have been living in their daily lives the needed skills of what I call AfterTime Living.
And I, for one, would love to learn from you, your tips and personal experiences about these skills.

Fire keeping is one of major skills both for survival and for sustainable living.  From my limited understanding of this lost art the key in mastering fire is to be able to take any ember available and to turn it into a robust fire, useful for whatever purpose you may have in mind.

I've learned that the average person, learning how to start a fire will go through about 30 matches a day.  I am aware that the Native Americans would carry their embers from campsite to campsite, often in a antler of animal horn of a sort. 

From building a fire from scratch, making fire from nothing, to maintaining an open flame, to mastering the art of cooking on a woodstove.  I would love to hear your stories.

I understand there are secrets in the way a person would use kindling, and there is a difference in how you build a small fire that has limited, or even no smoke.

Additionally, I've been very interested in learning more about wood gasification.  This is a smokeless fire that I believe will be very useful in our future.

Then there are the RocketStove types of fires, and cook stoves used all around the globe.  One of the benefits that I see in learning more about this style of stove is that it is very frugal with the wood.

And there is also the ancient art of wood coppicing, I think this is the way to go, in AfterTime living.  Wood Coppicing and Wood gasification.....



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This is a trick that I recently learned......take cotton balls, soak em in Vaseline, store them in a pill bottle or any container that is water proof.  Using a simple flint you can strike a spark onto one cotton ball that will immediately ignite and it keeps burning for roughly 1 min so plenty of time to get that fire going.....I have tested this in the rain and yes it works, with minimal cover.......Also if you are very very limited on space pick up some wooden matches cut them down to about 1/2 inch and dip the tips in wax.....presto you have water proof matches.  Just tear a strip off the box for lighting and you are set to go.   Just a few ideas :)


Alex Cortes said:
This is a trick that I recently learned......take cotton balls, soak em in Vaseline, store them in a pill bottle or any container that is water proof.  Using a simple flint you can strike a spark onto one cotton ball that will immediately ignite and it keeps burning for roughly 1 min so plenty of time to get that fire going.....I have tested this in the rain and yes it works, with minimal cover.......Also if you are very very limited on space pick up some wooden matches cut them down to about 1/2 inch and dip the tips in wax.....presto you have water proof matches.  Just tear a strip off the box for lighting and you are set to go.   Just a few ideas :)

Hi Alex, I'm just sort of catching up here, this is a good idea, and I like that you have tested this in the rain yourself!! :-)

It helps also to have your various sizes of kindling already sorted and stored and set up prior to starting your fire, being organised like this can help a person make best use of that 1 minute, in building a fire.

Remember to build small fires that smoke less, with concentrated heat, to keep a low profile if you are on the move, and if you are in your retreat.

Another thing that I've been doing, and I believe Sizzle and Wei discussed this some time ago, is that I never throw my dryer lint away anymore, I keep a box of small snack size baggies in a basket on my dryer, where I also keep the softener sheets and tennis balls for bulky items and so on. (Softener sheets are good to use as mulch/collars for plants, to keep things like tomato, or cabbage worms off of the plant stalks.)

When I clean the lint from my dryer I put it in the small snack bags.  At this point you can then soak the lint in vaseline, these small snack bags full of vaseline soaked lint then becomes like you soaked cotton balls.  I also keep some dry.
 
Over the course of the last six months I've accumulated enough of these simple do as you go firestarters to put into 8 different Bug Out Buckets that I have also been gradually building over time to dispense to people as needed. 

I have about 3 bags in each bucket, also several in each of my own personal BOBs, and I have some in buckets that I have cached away, buried, for my worst case scenario, living on the run type of preparation.

There are many ways we can make preparation a part of our on-going daily lifestyle.  Small baby step actions, that over time accumulate into a larger store of actions.

Off-topic, but I do this with water, too.  Every heavy duty, good juice jar that comes my way gets washed, and filled with water and stored in a cool dry place.  Again, these are also in the Bug Out Buckets I mentioned before, as well as the buried caches. (The glass jars I clean and box/earthquake proof for use after the primary events, thinking about the broken link concept here, glass may be very difficult to come by in the future, these jars can be used for all sorts of storage, if they break they can be melted in a kiln and reformed for various glass type uses, again I'll try to post some of the videos I've found on this, as I can, and I am perfectly okay with anyone who beats me to this.)

The "Strike Anywhere" matches are becoming increasingly difficult to find.  In our area a local Kroeger's store is the only place I've been able to find them.  I have loads and loads of them stored.

Again, by purchasing them gradually over an extended period of time. 
Tru-Value may be a store in some locations that can also carry these matches.  It used to be that all matches were strike anywhere, so look on the box, make sure you see strike anywhere on the box.  These are matches with have the white tip on the end.  They allow a person greater flexibility in use.

I live in my place of retreat, going mobile will be an action of last resort, so the manner I go about in my preparations will look different than the preps of people who plan to stay mobile.

There are some very good videos online of starting fires in various different ways, I'll try to collect some and post them here for people as I can, and anyone else who has things to offer here, please feel welcome.

I have gotten an old Cast Iron kitchen stove w/oven. It needs abit of work to repair. When I showed it to my sister she blew it off, it may become the center piece of the camp site no one will beable to carry it off to heavy!

How to Make Fire Sticks

http://www.survivaltopics.com/survival/how-to-make-fire-sticks/

 

You can get wood heaters from Military surplus stores as well as tents.

Thanks for the tip on cotton balls and vaseline jacks. 

We have a wood stove - it's not a kitchen wood stove, but it has a flat top so one can sit pans on it for boiling water, etc so one could potentially cook on it. 

I will be putting cotton balls on my wanted list as I know my supply of newspaper will run out for starting wood stoves.

Cotton Balls was Alex's. But you have a good stove and that is Great!

I've spent the past winter, in snowy temps, heating exclusively with wood in a closed wood heater stove and it's been very enlightening.  I was already very accustomed to building building fires while camping and just applied some of the same principles.  All winter there were only two times where it took me more than one match to heat all evening and night (that's only because I was in a hurry and didn't take my time setting it up well before lighting.  I don't have any fancy store-boughten wood, commercial fire-logs or fire starter, just a hodge-podge of salvaged lumber scraps and logs pieces already cut to stove length.  I used a standard ax to split some of the larger log pieces and a combo of ax and hatchet to split kindling from the logs and lumber.  A small bow saw was handy for trimming and shortening some of the scrap lumber.  This winter I'll definitely need a chainsaw or larger bow saw to cut some longer logs into pieces.  I have not yet attempted to take down a tree.  The method that worked well for me for starting is commonly called "log cabin".  Starting with two parallel sticks of wood each 2-3'' in diameter or width, placed 4-6" apart, I piled crumpled newspaper (when I had it) or other dry matter such as pine needles, pine cones, bark scraps in between the sticks.  Then I started layering my kindling in a grid pattern, first this way then that way on top, thinnest pieces first.  When I lit the newspaper or other dry matter it would burn long enough to start the smallest kindling going, then that in turn would burn long enough to get the next size kindling going etc and I would keep increasing the size of the material on top, until I could put some big chunks on.  The secret is that there needs to be air space in the pile.  If everything is just smushed together it will just smolder and go out.  Pine catches fast but also burns fast and doesn't give a lot of heat, also gives off resin that can build up in the chimney...useful early in the starting process though.  Hardwood takes longer to catch unless well split, but gives off a lot of heat and burns slowly, creating glowing coals that last.  Definitely getting down on hands and knees and blowing gently on the fire when starting it helps it burn hotter and keep going instead of smoldering.  Staying ahead of the game by stockpiling wood, drying it and keeping it dry (shelter & tarps), and bringing the next day's wood inside to warm and dry it really helped.  Every week I would split enough kindling for the coming week and sort it into different sizes.  Ashes need to be scooped and taken out.  The fire, when it's going, needs to be monitored and constantly adjusted and new wood added before it burns down too far.  Finally, don't forget to give thanks in your own way to the Creator and trees for the fire and gift of life.

Oh, also, you can make great fire-starters (I only use them if camping in the rain) by putting dryer lint with melted wax into paper egg cartons.  Just break off one section when you need it.

Here is a great little stove that I got for my Survival Retreat.  An has a great price also

http://www.t-motorsports.com/product/portable-military-camping-tent...
Jacks said:

I have gotten an old Cast Iron kitchen stove w/oven. It needs abit of work to repair. When I showed it to my sister she blew it off, it may become the center piece of the camp site no one will beable to carry it off to heavy!

How to Make Fire Sticks

http://www.survivaltopics.com/survival/how-to-make-fire-sticks/

 

You can get wood heaters from Military surplus stores as well as tents.

 A 9volt battery and steel wool works well, welders striker, steel match, clear plastic bottle with water (daytime) sun as well as eye glasses an ICE works.  Lighter wood is CEDER roots an tree trunk (base)  LITES EASY. NATURES MATCH. Pinecones burn very HOT, good to help wet wood to burn.

Great information everyone thank you for sharing....

Also thanks Sizzle for the extra info it is greatly appreciated.....

bump

Merry Christmas, 2011.

Pinecones are great fire starters, but use only the completily open ones.  If you throw in the fire a closed one, it will blow up like a hand granade and cause severe wounds and burns!!!

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