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Thread: Firecraft - my first skill and i'm struggling!

  1. #1
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    Default Firecraft - my first skill and i'm struggling!

    I've created a fire using a fire steel and striker once before, back in the summer when there was a lot of birch bark around, a lot of twigs and branches, and a lot of dry wood. Today i was passing near Epping forest and took a detour to actually try my skills again. I had difficulty finding any birch and due to the combination of rain and snow lately, almost everything was damp and cold. I did find some dead hanging twigs (i only wanted to work on fire starting, not make a full size fire) and a standing dead tree that looked like it was being hollowed out by beetles or somesuch, and had bone dry wood on the inside that was easy to break off. I had a lighter on me, but even using this i had trouble getting anything to do more than smoke a little.

    What am i doing wrong? What should i be practicing? ANY advice at all would be helpful. Or if there is anyone about who i could meet up with to see first hand what i'm supposed to be doing. It's all appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Sounds like
    A, you didn't dry out the tinder or have any pre-dried with you
    B, tried to use punk wood which can sometimes be difficult to light

    As for a meet up that's easy to do depending on where you are.

    Alternatively keep a look out for the meets and try to get to one of those. At the moment there's Rough Close in March which I can really recommend
    Man of Tanith...
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  3. #3
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    Have a look on YouTube for firelighting in the wet. It's a good challenge.

    When I lit a fire the other day, I used dry bracken (although had a dry cramp ball in my pocket to get the ember). You could try scraping some birch bark - the friction will help to dry it

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mesquite View Post
    Sounds like
    A, you didn't dry out the tinder or have any pre-dried with you
    B, tried to use punk wood which can sometimes be difficult to light
    I didn't have any tinder with me, i was hoping to find whatever i needed in the woods. My end goal being to be able to create a fire no matter where i am or how little fuel or equipment i have. That's a long way off at the moment though. I actually thought the punk wood would make good tinder, it was by far the best option i found. Perhaps it would be better used as kindling?

    As for a meet up that's easy to do depending on where you are.

    Alternatively keep a look out for the meets and try to get to one of those. At the moment there's Rough Close in March which I can really recommend
    Well i live in London if anyone is near abouts that would be great. Where can i find out more about the Rough Close meet?

    Quote Originally Posted by spandit View Post
    Have a look on YouTube for firelighting in the wet. It's a good challenge.

    When I lit a fire the other day, I used dry bracken (although had a dry cramp ball in my pocket to get the ember). You could try scraping some birch bark - the friction will help to dry it
    I couldn't find any birch, i was lost in a sea of beech and oak. Birch bark is so far the only natural material i have successfully used to start a fire. I didn't spot any bracken where i was, but i know there is plenty in that forest, and i will definitely give it a try next time i'm up there.

  5. #5
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    There are many of us in the same boat as you Folcwigga, or can remember how frustrating it was when we were trying to learn.

    It is a long journey between going out with a gas stove to being able to light a fire from foraged materials and it does take a long time to learn what can be used / where to find it / how to process it / what alternatives exist / how to maximise your chances of success etc.

    A little tinder in your pockets with a number of different ignition methods and you'll find fire dripping from your finger-tips before you know it!

    ATB

    Ogri the trog
    Improvise, Adapt & Overcome
    www.Reddragonbushcraft.com

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Folcwigga View Post
    I didn't have any tinder with me, i was hoping to find whatever i needed in the woods. My end goal being to be able to create a fire no matter where i am or how little fuel or equipment i have. That's a long way off at the moment though. I actually thought the punk wood would make good tinder, it was by far the best option i found. Perhaps it would be better used as kindling?
    Prepare: Carry a knife to split twigs and make shavings. Collect tinder even when you aren't going to start a fire and put it in an inside pocket for your body heat to dry it out. Carry something to shelter your little fire from the rain, a sheet of polythene will do but a tarp is better as you can get under it as well. Always carry a few odd bits of firemaking material with you. Something like a bit of garden twine or sack made from natural fibres will do, cotton wool is great especially if you put a small amount of fuel on it. A lot of people rub vaseline into it. Usually I'll have a small bottle of meths with me. Sometimes it's a bigger bottle, and sometimes it's petrol.

    Think outside the box: I bet you had things on you that could have helped you light a fire, did you search your pockets for old bus tickets and things like that? Look for anything that would be better burnt than left there, like old crisp packets and Big Mac wrappers. Look for bits of dead wood that have fallen from trees but become caught up in branches and bushes before landing on the ground. They don't get so saturated as wood that's on the ground and they dry in the wind when it's not raining. Look for naturally sheltered places that might harbour dry twigs and leaves.

    Start small: Very thin shavings that you can make with a knife can be dried enough to light just with a few sparks from a ferro rod. They will dry and then light very thin or split twigs, and so on.

    Well i live in London if anyone is near abouts that would be great. Where can i find out more about the Rough Close meet?
    http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=57

    Rough close is a way from London but it will be worth a trip if you can get there. There will no doubt be meets closer to you if you check in the meets section from time to time.

  7. #7

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    If you can find some tall (knee high or better) dried grass then pull off the couple of inches at the top. It is hit by the wind and even after a rain or snow melt tends to stay dryer. Take it and put it between your jacket and base layer to help it dry.

    I don't know the UK or your flora but I imagine you have coniferous trees such as pine. get some of the dried pine pitch that sits on the outside of the bark. It burns well and for a good amount of time so with a lighter it should be no issue.

    Make shavings and dust off of dead pine since it combusts quicker than hardwood, also dried pine needles work well.

    Always carry something with you take help start a fire, I always have a couple of firestraws with me if needed. All you should need is a small flame to get it going.

    Be sure your kindling is prepared ahead of time. Three levels of kindling match stick size, pencil size, thumb size. Take your kindling from standing dead wood or dead limbs caught up in branhes. Don't take it from wood on the ground as it will have soaked up water. If the smaller stuff is a little damp shave off the bark it will most likely be dry underneath if it was off the ground.

    Here are a couple of videos in the first one it was damp out since it had just rained the day before. I took the top of some tall grass and kept it in my inside coat pocket for an hour or so as I hiked around to help dry it.



    In this one I used some cotton from a firestraw to catch the initial flame and dried pine needles that I picked from off the ground under a tree, shook off, and dried with my bandanna as the tinder.


  8. #8

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    Can't imagine ged with just a small bottle of meths

    Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Folcwigga View Post
    I didn't have any tinder with me, i was hoping to find whatever i needed in the woods. My end goal being to be able to create a fire no matter where i am or how little fuel or equipment i have. That's a long way off at the moment though. I actually thought the punk wood would make good tinder, it was by far the best option i found. Perhaps it would be better used as kindling?
    As the others have said... always carry a small pouch, tin, tube or whatever you fancy to carry of dry tinder with you

    Quote Originally Posted by Folcwigga View Post
    Well i live in London if anyone is near abouts that would be great. Where can i find out more about the Rough Close meet?
    London's a big place so if you narrow it down to area you might find there's someone not far at all from you that can help you out

    As for Rough Close Ged's already posted the link for that but there's also the London pub meet that Swallow's organising, details to be had here
    Man of Tanith...
    I am allergic to..... veet for men, duct tape,handcuffs,hair dye,razors and
    all such things that can do unpleasant things to me

  10. #10

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    Well if everything is damp, try to use feather-sticks. Work great when there has been rain, I also use cattail, always gets the fire going. Cattail inside a bundle of ostrich fern.

  11. #11
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    And not forgetting belly button fluff, I always have plenty of that with me and it takes a spark really well!!

  12. #12
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    I'm a novice, so if this works for me it'll be a good bet for anyone. Loose bark from a clematis and dead wood gathered from amongst the branches of a holly. The holly will give good cover if it's only a small fire too.

    The aforementioned cramp balls are incredibly good.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for the tips. It was just a spare few hours in the afternoon and i wanted to practice my skills, so i didn't have a tinder box/pouch on me, or a knife. The only thing i needed my knife for the first time was to create sparks, but since i had the lighter i didn't think i'd need it to do even that. I've never made a feather stick before, so that could be interesting... but the general message i'm getting is that i should already have some tinder prepared if i want to start a quick fire in wet conditions!
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