How do you start your fires?

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pauljm116

Native
May 6, 2011
1,457
5
Rainham, Kent
Just wanted to find out how people start their fires generally.

I have used firesteels and various types of natural tinders and always tend to struggle, maybe I need to practice more! So I usually use a hexamine/esbit tablet as a base for my fire and then build on that. Does anyone else do it the lazy way or do you use flints and steels or other traditional methods? :)
 

treadlightly

Full Member
Jan 29, 2007
2,685
1
62
Powys
I am no expert so even though I have a bent for natural methods I tend to use whatever is easiest in the conditions.

If its dry and I have time I will use flint and steel or ferro rod with charcloth to take a spark and a cramp ball to develop the ember. This is my favourite method.

Sometimes I use cotton wool balls and vaseline if its wet or time is tight.

Sometimes lighters or even matches especially to light my stove.
 

The Big Lebowski

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Aug 11, 2010
2,320
3
Sunny Wales!
Fatwood shavings on a plinth with two good bundles of match stick twigs. Ferro rod but sometimes char cloth/cramp balls ect and tinder nests with flint and steel.

Keep trying with birch peelings and a ferro rod paul, a little practice go's a long way :) I might do a little video on the weekend if you are interested?
 

munkiboi182

Full Member
Jan 28, 2012
583
2
33
taverham, thorpe marriott, norfolk
i use a firesteel with birch bark normally. i make a 'bowl' shape out of a larger piece, fill it with smaller, finer pieces and on a flat thick piece (about the size of a 50p) i cover with super fine dust scraped off the bowl piece, mixed with a few shavings from my fire steel. the 50p sized bit goes on top of the smaller bits and are what create the ember to light the shavings. once this is going i place it under a layered pile of timbers, smallest at the bottom largest at the top. remember, preparation is the key
 

Stringmaker

Native
Sep 6, 2010
1,891
1
UK
When I'm working with primary school kids (which is most often) then they use a ferro rod, charcloth and a sawdust/straw tinder bundle.

When I'm doing a demo to adults then the toys come out; bow drill, pump drill, iron pyrite and flint.

When I'm practising in the garage then hand drill (just started to try it).
 
Mar 15, 2011
1,116
5
on the heather
Flint & steel and charcloth or firesteel and birch bark, and any type of bog cotton, thistledown, willow down, anything that’s handy, and then start throwing on the pine cones. I try never to used matches when out, keeping them just for emergencies. Although I do use the firesteel and bog role a lot to light fags.
 
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outdoorpaddy

Nomad
Mar 21, 2011
311
3
Northern Ireland
Feathersticks and ferro rod everytime, I mastered the technique a while back and I've used it ever since, its a good reliable method that takes a bit more time than other methods but its handy if there's only plain wood about. If I had the choice i would use birch bark and birch twigs but there isn't any of it around where I do my bushcrafty stuff. I haven't attempted bow drilling since my fundamental course at woodlore lol, I know I can do it but haven't got back to it yet.
Great thread by the way

outdoorpaddy
 
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pauljm116

Native
May 6, 2011
1,457
5
Rainham, Kent
Fatwood shavings on a plinth with two good bundles of match stick twigs. Ferro rod but sometimes char cloth/cramp balls ect and tinder nests with flint and steel.

Keep trying with birch peelings and a ferro rod paul, a little practice go's a long way :) I might do a little video on the weekend if you are interested?

Yes please to a video, sounds interesting.

Think I need to just practice more and be more patient, rather than giving up and just using a fuel tab or meths. I was sort of hoping for a few more people who use hexamine or similar to light fires but it seems so far its just me.........oh the shame. :eek:
 

dwardo

Maker
Aug 30, 2006
6,231
248
43
Nr Chester
Sounds like a kindling problem, not enough and not dry enough. You can either spend time blowing and puffing or take half the time to collect more kindling, matchstick thin and two good handfulls, pine is my fav. Also a dry split base to sit the fire upon.
Cant beat birch bark for easy to find and collect tinder. Just dont wait until you need it, collect it in advance.
 
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monkey boy

Full Member
Jan 13, 2009
1,505
14
38
london
I use a ferro rod and birch bark as my lazy way, but most of the time I use flint and steel method with charcloth.
I carry a lighter and matches just in case tho, as some days are good and some are bad.
i have also been playing with bow drills lately.
;)
 

JohnC

Full Member
Jun 28, 2005
2,624
74
59
Edinburgh
I do like practicing so I'll try either flint and steel with charcloth and rope hemp, or a firesteel and CWB with vaseline. Usually have a lighter as well.
The other day, my son Joe was practicing with a JohnFenna dragons breath kit in the back garden.... all worked well...
 

Conan257

Member
Jan 21, 2011
46
0
Lincoln
Flint/Steel and vaselined cotton wool.... Doesn't usually give me any issues...Although, the geek in me always carries some potassium permanganate for fire lighting :)
 

Limaed

Full Member
Apr 11, 2006
1,226
36
45
Perth & Anglesey
I usually try with the bowdrill first although success rate is only about 60%. Most of the time in the winter I go straight for flint and steel using Chaga or some Amadou I made to catch the spark. I carry a 'fire stuff sack' which has a mix of fine and corse tinders / kindling in it along with the above means to light them. In my bag I have a pre-made bowdrill set and a ferro rod with my knife for when im really struggling.Eventually I would like to learn the handdrill and iron pyrite methods as I really like the more traditional methods.
 

John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
21,998
1,502
63
Pembrokeshire
I am a flint and steel and charcloth user myself....
I have been known to use home made wax and sawdust fuel blocks to get realy reluctant fires to catch :)
 

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