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How To Make A Fire In Wet Conditions
The ability to create fire is a skill that should be practiced in all weather conditions. After all, the times when you most need fire are also the times when fire is most difficult to build. Therefore it is essential to have a solid understanding of what techniques are effective and where to find dry materials. The confidence you will gain from studying this skill is rewarding, but it should also come with a good slice of humble pie. Just because you can start fire on a snowy day does not mean you could do the same in a rain storm. My Big Point: It is your responsibility to constantly push your skills the next level and to never grow complacent. So how do you push yourself? Leave the bic lighter at home, and grab the ferro rod instead. When you have grown comfortable, leave the ferro rod and bring only your knife... use it to carve a bow drill kit. Just remember that the path to developing great skill requires a mindset of making do with "less and less" rather than constantly bringing more gadgetry to the woods.

 
Instructional Video
In this detailed video I explain all the details of creating a fire in "less than ideal" conditions.... Also check out some other details in the article below. (ALSO: keep your eyes open for the HUGE heard of deer that walks behind me)

Tinder First!
The very first priority is to make a tinder bundle. Tinder can be made from anything that burns fast, hot, and easily catches a spark. Most people rush through this stage because of a self-imposed feeling of urgency to get fire. TRUST ME... it is worth taking a long walk and spending your time on finding the right material. The best places to look are transition areas between fields and forest where there will be diverse vegetation. Cattail down, cedar bark, leaves, and dry grass work very well.

"Pencil Lead" Fuel
After collecting tinder, the next size fuel to focus on will be grass and twigs that are about as thick as pencil lead. Gather these in small bundles, and make sure that they are bone dry.

Small Kindling Wood
As you progressively collect larger and larger pieces of wood, you will eventually shift into gathering small branches. All along, keep in mind that that there two conditions that make for ideal fire wood: 1. The wood must be off the ground, and 2: It must be exposed to sunlight. This picture shows a perfect example of firewood hanging from a fallen tree. If it makes a clean snapping sound when you break it, then it will be good for fire.

Keep Your Materials Dry
If you need to work with your hands or take a break, do NOT throw your good fire wood down on the snow or wet ground. Instead place your materials into the crotch of a tree where they will be kept high and dry.

A Great Location
The location of your fire / campsite will depend on many variables, but I chose this location for three particular reasons. 1: There are no large trees that could fall and crush me in the night. 2: The young tree population surrounding this area provides a great structure for building windbreaks. 3: There is a ton of burnable wood in the immediate vicinity that can serve as an emergency supply of fuel.

Preparing The Ground
If the ground is covered with snow, dig down with the side of your foot until you reach the raw dirt. This will greatly increase your chances of success because you will not have to melt through snow just have a fire.

Build A Platform
Another great technique for warding off moisture is to build a small platform of branches. This platform will further isolate your fire from the damp ground.... which is particularly important when your fire has just been lit and is still vulnerable.

The Tee-Pee Fire Structure
There are many ways to build your fire structure, but I often use the Tee-Pee method because it channels the heat into a single upward direction. Simply put your "pencil thick" twigs in the center and then build a leaning structure all the way around using progressively large fuel wood as you build it out.

Fire Starters
In this example I am using the Hedgehog Ferro Rod, but I urge you to constantly go more primitive. A ferro rod is a great intermediate step between a bic lighter and something more primitive like the bowdrill. It is a very reliable source of hot sparks but it still requires skill on the part of the user and necessitates good fire materials.

Pull Away - Don't Push Forward!
When the backside of the knife (or a similar edge) is scraped across the Ferro Rod, a shower of hot sparks ensues. As mentioned in the video, one should actually hold the knife stationary and be certain to pull away with the Ferro Rod rather than push with the knife. This causes sparks to fly without accidentally knocking your fire structure over. Also beware that blades with a powder coated surface will not produce a reliable shower of sparks.

Bring It To Life
Once the tinder bundle ignites, you may have to gently nudge it in beneath the Tee-Pee. You can also give it a gentle breath and reposition the structure so that the upward channel of heat is igniting more fuel wood. From here, you simply add more wood and maintain the fire... good luck and have fun out there!

  Best always,
Paul Scheiter

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