PDA

View Full Version : Fire in rain



VirusKiller
10-08-2009, 14:56
Very newbie / inexperienced question this one, but I've not come across the answer anywhere. (Oddly enough, none of the books bothers to explain what to do if the weather isn't perfect).

Once you've put up your shelter, how should you manage a fire in rain?

Location?
Type?
Size?
etc.

Can you keep a fire going in persistent heavy rain with little overhead shelter (for the fire)?

lamper
10-08-2009, 15:11
There is a Ray Mears (of course) video on you tube show different method of fire starting.

The easy ones (to save you watching it) are...
- Inner Tube rubber + ciagrette ligther, burns when wet
- Cotton wool and Vaseline - Cheap and easy to make
- BBQ lighter blocks - if you are really lazy

That will only get you started though.

Once you have lit the your starter you're still need wood. Places good to look for stuff is...
- dead branches that have fallen but got caught up on the way down
- standing dead wood - basically sticks that look like they are in the ground and part of the plant but are actually dead and snap right off.

If small tinder/kindling is not about or you now need to move up a wood size, take you axe, or knife and split open some wood to get to the dry part in the middle. You can shave off some for tinder/kindling or break it up into smaller chunks for burning.

Split wood is great also because the rough edges combined with the drier inner wood will catch easier.

Last of all, invest in a dry bag (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Exped-Dry-Bags/dp/B000SZTE4K) and when its dry, gather some nice wood (I use a 5 litre bag and fill it about a 1/3 full), keep it in store and then you don't have such an up hill struggle.

Hope that helps, if I find the Mears video I'll update with the link.

durulz
10-08-2009, 15:33
Iamper's answer is just about spot on. Not much to add to that.
Only thing I would say is to use one of those green heat packs to help get things going.
The key thing to remember is to split the wood - the bark will be soaking wet but the wood inside will be dry. So strip the bark and split the wood.
Also, plan in advance. If you are going out and you know it's wet then think about the fire from the start. That is, start collecting materials for tinder and kindling from the beginning. Put it in your pockets and the heat from your body and the dryness of your pocket will take some of the moisture out of the tinder. The longer you have it in your pocket then drier it will get.
The best thing you can do is practise lighting a fire under wet conditions. Starting a fire when it's dry is easy. It's when it's wet that you need to know how to do it.

VirusKiller
10-08-2009, 15:36
The main question I was actually asking, but perhaps didn't articulate well, is: How resilient are fires to persistent heavy rain? (rain = water => cools fire / puts out fire). I have found plenty of info on how to start a fire in the wet.

Thanks,
Joel

Shewie
10-08-2009, 15:38
Very newbie / inexperienced question this one, but I've not come across the answer anywhere. (Oddly enough, none of the books bothers to explain what to do if the weather isn't perfect).

Once you've put up your shelter, how should you manage a fire in rain?

Location?
Type?
Size?
etc.

Can you keep a fire going in persistent heavy rain with little overhead shelter (for the fire)?


Good question VK, should get some interesting replies on this one.

Location? - I suppose this depends on if you're trying to protect the fire from the weather and if your tarp is cotton or nylon. Obviously you don't want a big stack of wood to suudenly dry out and then catch melting your tarp in the process, keeping it small and controlled under the tarp is usually the best way if possible.

Type? - I've had first hand trouble in severe wet weather up in Scotland last year and once we'd managed to actually get a burn going the only firelay which worked was the good old fashioned tepee style. The wet timber does dry eventually but the trouble with the tepee is it doesn't last very long once it's caught. Strategic moving and adding of timber can usually keep it going though.

Size? - I suppose it depends on what you need the fire for. If it's just to warm up a bit of food and make a brew then it doesn't need to be very big at all. If your trying to get yourself dry and keep warm in bad weather then you need to think about how that can be done. As a rule I try to keep any fire as small as possible for the purpose of what it's needed for.

I've looked into quite a lot of info on wet weather firemaking since our trip last year and it's definitely worth reading up on. I carry a candle aswell now for getting the fire going at the start, using an oven effect which can be shown in the Bushtruck course review I did a few months ago.

HTH

durulz
10-08-2009, 15:50
The main question I was actually asking, but perhaps didn't articulate well, is: How resilient are fires to persistent heavy rain? (rain = water => cools fire / puts out fire). I have found plenty of info on how to start a fire in the wet.

Thanks,
Joel

OK, fair enough.
Well, that rather all depends.
Generally, the longer the fire has been going the more resistant it will be since it's had chance to work up a lot of heat and produce some hot embers.
Therefore, you need to build up that heat as soon as possible. The way to do this is to add more fuel. OK, let's put that in real numbers. Let's say that to start with, a fire with a floor area the size of two sheets of A4 paper is big enough to get going. Once it has the heat (an hour's worth of burn will provide a good bed of embers) then let it burn back to something the size of a single sheet of paper.
If the rain is particularly heavy then you need to increase the size of the fire proportionately. There's no magic formula, I'm afraid. As you say, if the rain/weather is affecting the fire then the solution to this is to make the fire hotter. You do that in two ways - adding oxygen (since I assume it's a fire in the open then that's already dealt with) and adding fuel.
In an ideal world, assuming you have time, you would build some kind of shelter for the fire, or pitch it where there is some kind of protection, so that it is sheltered as much as possible from the elements. If the rain persists you are well advised to spend time making a rudimentary shelter for your fire before you even light it. Again, it all comes down to planning. If it's raining, or looking likely, before you set out, then maybe also pack a cheap piece of tarp or a cover that you can pitch up several feet above where you want to light your fire. If you're caught out...well, you have to do the best you can with what you have available.
Fire-lighting, and management, in wet conditions is a good autumn and winter skill to go out and practice - knowing the theory is one thing but there's only one way to learn it - do it!

shep
10-08-2009, 15:54
I've struggled with this from time to time too. The other thing to bear in mind is how being wet and tired can make you make bad decisions, rush etc.
You have to have everything right before you start and good wood as described above.

I would love to know if anyone on here has first-hand experience of success with natural fire-lighting methods in bad weather. I'm a dab hand with a flint and steel and have succeeded with fire-drill once or twice, but would not fancy my chances in the wet at all.


Vaseline soaked cotton AND innertube all the way!

bushcraftbob
10-08-2009, 16:11
I get all excited now when it rains here, cos I get the chance to go out and practise wet weather fire lighting - it can be a real challenge!

Just learned splitting wood and making feather sticks, its a real buzz when u learn something new!

Seoras
10-08-2009, 17:00
Look up posts by Rich59 on lighting a fire with wet tinder. He is the guru.

Bushwhacker
10-08-2009, 17:13
In answering your question about protecting the fire once lit, this is the simplest way I can think of.

Just build a shelter for the fire.

Four poles stood in the ground - front 2 higher than the back 2 to create a sloping roof, get a roof on it. Put some rail supports halfway up along the sides and back (leaving the front open) that can be used to hang clothes or cooking utensils.
Done.

Karl5
10-08-2009, 17:17
The main question I was actually asking, but perhaps didn't articulate well, is: How resilient are fires to persistent heavy rain? (rain = water => cools fire / puts out fire). I have found plenty of info on how to start a fire in the wet.

Thanks,
Joel

Les Stroud (aka Survivorman) swears by putting a large chunk of punky wood on top of his fire to keep it sheltered and going through heavy rain.
He's using this technique in several of his Survivorman episodes, with good result every time (at least what's shown).
I've personally got no experience with this method, but it seems a logical way to at least keep a good glowing ember going even after a prolonged, heavy down-pour.

Other than that:
The bigger the fire, the better it'll keep up against the rain.

/ Karl

BushcraftBaird112
10-08-2009, 17:24
There is a Ray Mears (of course) video on you tube show different method of fire starting. Do you have a link for the video? I dont believe I've seen that one.

lamper
10-08-2009, 17:53
Do you have a link for the video? I dont believe I've seen that one.
I'll try and find it now....

Also if you have time a nice Fire reflector can have big benfits for you and the fire. Heat is kept in, easy to dry wood, you are warmer and it shelters ember bed....
http://www.survivaljunction.com/images/stories/fig5-9-field-expedient-lean-to-and-fire-reflector.gif



EDIT>>>>> SODS LAW!!! Was watching it the other day thinking "seen this bit", can remember the page or find it in my history! If anyone can help.... He is next to his jeep in the desert and talks about using inner tube, wirewool, and these two chemicals to start fires....

smoggy
10-08-2009, 23:28
If you can start a fire in wet condition when its raining, what makes you think you'll have trouble keeping it going? Ask a fireman how much water it takes to put out an established fire!

One tip not mentioned above............pine resin........you stand a good chance of locating some on your exploits and even if colected in a downpour it will still take a light and keep burning dispite the wet..........in fact if you light the resin on a wet log, it will melt and spread like oil on water taking the flame with it. Pine knots are rich in the stuff so take easily and burn well and long.....even in heavy rain!

Smoggy.

Chinkapin
11-08-2009, 03:09
First of all there is rain and then there is RAIN. I spent one summer in Washington in the Cascade mountains. It rained quite often but it was more in the category of a mist. I never really got wet and maintaining a fire was no problem.

Here in the midwest, where I live it is either dry or if it rains it comes down in torrents. Under such conditions, either you got a tarp high over your fire or its going to be extinguished.

Once, some years ago, my grandfather and I were camped on Greenleaf lake in Oklahoma. It was getting near supper time and my grandfather had a big pot of wonderful looking stew cooking on the campfire. Just as we were about to sit down to eat, a sudden and very heavy rain hit and we were forced into our tent.

When the rain stopped and we emerged from or shelter, not only was the fire completely out, but the heavy rain had dropped so much water into the stew pot that every single piece of meat, potatoes, carrots, etc had been washed out of the pot. The pot was filled with clear rainwater.

All our wood was wet, we had no food for supper, and went to bed hungry.

This incident has always colored my choice of fire sites, and a way of protecting any fire that i might build if any threatening weather is on the horizon. I wouldn't wish that night on my worst enemy. Of course a little better preparation, a better awareness of weather conditions and none of it would have happened.

VirusKiller
11-08-2009, 09:11
Great answers. Thanks.

Melonfish
11-08-2009, 09:15
for the ultimate cheat get standing deadwood or hanging wood, break up and shape, pour on some greenheat fuel gel and light with firesteel.

serious cheating yes but hey it doesn't half work!

drewdunnrespect
16-08-2009, 10:54
or empty your spare bottle of meths on to a light heximine block which has been covered in ateeppee of wood and then stand back

TwoSticks
17-08-2009, 00:30
When the rain stopped and we emerged from or shelter, not only was the fire completely out, but the heavy rain had dropped so much water into the stew pot that every single piece of meat, potatoes, carrots, etc had been washed out of the pot. The pot was filled with clear rainwater.

Although I've never had this happen, one of my favourite ways to shelter my fire in the rain is to cook on it, or at least put a billy on. You must remember to empty it before it overflows. Not only does the pot protect the fire from the rain, but you get a brew too!