blowing damp tinder to a flame

bushcraftbob

Settler
Jun 1, 2007
845
0
37
Oxfordshire
The last couple of times i have started to light a fire with flint and steel using 'dry' grass i have struggled to blow the ember in to a flame. This is because the only grass i could find at the time was not 100% bone dry. There were large plumes of very thick smoke emitted when blowing, and it is very difficult to blow to a flame.

If tinder is damp are there any techniques to get to a flame? i.e. blowing softer/harder or using a tighter/looser tinder bundle or adding other natural tinders in with the grass???

cheers
 

John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
21,928
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Pembrokeshire
Add birchbark - the little curls that just pull off the live tree.
Start blowing softly, allowing the ember to use its heat to dry out the next bit of tinder rather than trying to "flame" it straight off.
As the ember develops this way and grows then it will be capable of drying more of the damp tinder until it is big enough to dry and "flame" the rest of the bundle......
 

Shewie

Mod
Mod
Dec 15, 2005
24,260
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Yorkshire
You could also try grabbing some grass a bit earlier on and drying it out in your pocket as you bimble about.
 
what I do is keep a source of tinder that i find in my pocket if its damp because my body heat will warm it up slightly. When i am ready to use it i rub it in my hand hard and fast kind of like a handrill motion. Usualy you will get that tinder pretty darn dry and it should be able to hold a flame .
 

addo

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Feb 8, 2006
2,485
4
Derbyshire
Carry some dry thistle or rosebay seed heads.
This will improve your chances by miles as the ember will grow much larger before it reaches the damp grass, so drying it quicker and getting flame sooner and with greater effect.
Theres no shame in carrying small amounts of tinder with you or drying some in your pockets as Rich says. Its good prep.
 

rich59

Maker
Aug 28, 2005
2,212
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London
Another idea is - instead of hand holding your ball of grass place it on the ground and roof it with bark/ large leaves / or whatever. Then be steadier with your blowing to slowly grow the lighted zone.

The roof helps trap the heat

The trapped heat + the slow blowing allows the heat to dry out the damp grass around the ember