Fire Starting Combustibles

The Ignition Point of Combustibles Do Matter In a Survival Situation

Before we get started, here are some definitions, and temperature ranges, which might be of interest.

Piloted ignition: The use of a flame, spark, or hot surface to ignite any given fuel.

There are various terms and explanations out there, but piloted ignition is easy to remember and understand because we all know what a pilot light is on a gas stove or heater. It is a flame that is exposed to a fuel, either propane or natural gas or even diesel/biofuel used in certain heaters. The flame, then, of course, ignites the combustibles just as a match or lighter flame would. The flame makes contact and the time contact is required for ignition depends on the combustible.

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Steel Wool an Incredible Alternative to Char Cloth

Steel Wool Fire Starter

Steel Wool is inexpensive, lightweight and is a much better alternative to char cloth when used for making fires. Steel wool takes a spark just as easily as char cloth but burns a lot hotter than char cloth and can even be used if it gets wet.

Another plus to steel wool is that you can use batteries to ignite it. So check out this excellent video by The Outdoor Gear Review to see how well it works and throw some in your fire kit because you never know when it might come in handy.


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Magnesium Fire Starters

Prepare Your Fire Starters Ahead Of Time: Making Fire Starters

First, a question, do you scrape your magnesium bar to get fine particles or do you shave it to get curls.

High quality magnesium shavings will burn at approximately 5600° F/3093° C. The magnesium content in the bars available at camping stores and other retail outlets can vary. The percentage of magnesium would not be 100 percent. Other metal alloys are mixed in, and the more alloys contained in the stick the lower the burning temperature.

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Fire Starting Basics

Fire Starting Basics

A previous article discussed the basics of wilderness survival, the basics meaning simple and straight forward. Information to get you started, and information that can actually save your life. No fancy tricks, and no years of training needed to learn the basics of surviving long enough to be rescued.

Once you know the basics however, you can then build upon them. You will need practice to gain confidence, so that you can actually change the environment around you allowing you to survive in it.

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5 Basic Survival Skills You Can Practice In Your Backyard Now

Backyard Basic Survival Skills

Most of the survival reality shows would have you believe that you could awaken one day to find yourself in the middle of a jungle or in a vast wilderness area with nothing but the clothes on your back, and with shoes in some cases. You may be expected to survive with nothing more than flip-flops, a piece of Styrofoam and your PJ bottoms.

Of course, the shows are all about ratings. The reality is however, that you left home for a mountain bike ride and the tire blew out 12 miles from home and the fall makes it hard for you to walk. A few hours day hike turns into a nightmare of days wandering lost, or you got lost on a hunting trip, camping trip or your vehicle breaks down in some remote area. This is how you end up lost or stranded in most cases.

The point is you arrived there somehow, in something, on something and with something such as a backpack with a few essentials. The deciding factor on whether you survive or not, are the things you arrived with for the party. Will you be empty handed as well as empty-headed if you find yourself lost or stranded?

You need materials for survival but the thing you need the most are skills. The knowledge and the skills you carry in your head may very well decide your fate.

Knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge will keep you alive. Skills will keep you alive when your gear fails or materials are not to be had in your backpack. Watching videos of how it is done is not applying knowledge, but practicing is applying knowledge and you need to practice in a controlled environment before it is a life or death situation, were mistakes are a learning tool and not a death knell. Your backyard is the starting point.

Basic Survival Skills You Can Practice In Your Backyard

It is now backyard adventure time, where you can hone your skills to gain the confidence and know without hesitation that you can survive if you become lost or stranded in a wilderness environment or in any environment for that matter.

1.) Shelter

Pull out your tarps, ponchos and even an old parachute and start practicing. Look at various ways of using your tarp or poncho as shelters. You can even use a Mylar blanket as emergency shelter along with certain plastic sheeting.

You can string a line and drape the material over the line and stake down for a classic pup tent style, or gather some saplings and construct a teepee using the tarp, poncho, plastic or parachute as cover for it. Know that you can construct a shelter to cover you from rain, snow or sun, before you find yourself lost or stranded.

2.) Archery/Slingshot/Spear Skills

Safety first, and this means no children or pets in the backyard, while practicing and that you have sufficient backstop materials for the projectiles. Firearms are not always available but you can make a longbow, slingshot and spear from materials on you and from what you find in your environment.

Obviously the way to ensure you have the means to hunt is to make sure you never leave on an outdoor adventure without a longbow (folding ones are available that can be carried in a pack), without a slingshot and the means to cut a sapling and sharpen into a spear.

Can you hit your target with an arrow, or do you only think you can, so find out if you can. Then make sure through practice that you can always bring game down with a bow if needed and the same applies to the slingshot, practice will make perfect.

Spears in most cases would be ideal for “spear fishing” or for self-defense against animals or humans. Unless, the spear is well crafted and balanced properly throwing a spear to kill game is not very productive, but it is one more tool in your survival toolbox and you never will know until you do practice.

3.) Fire Starting

Practically anyone can start a fire on a nice sunny day, with matches and a lighter, but can you do it when the wind is blowing, when it is raining, snowing, or icing out. Can you make a fire without matches or a lighter? Now is the time to find out before you need too.

If you do not have a magnesium stick and/or a Ferro rod, you need to get both and begin practicing. Practice starting fires using a Ferro rod and cotton balls soaked in alcohol based hand sanitizer, or use alcohol wipes from your first aid kit.

Know what works best for you. Petroleum jelly, cotton balls, dry tinder, char cloth, flint, and steel can all be used to create fire under any weather conditions. Make sure you know how to start a fire with any materials available to you. Make sure all materials are available by making sure they are in your pack.

4. Foraging For Food Edibles in Your Backyard

Unless you routinely spray herbicides to kill weeds in your yard, you can find edibles weeds growing at practically any time of the year.  These same weeds can be found in a wilderness environment as well, and what better place to learn to identify the edible ones than in your own backyard.

The following is just a sampling of what you may find in your backyard. The list is common weeds and even flowers that are edible and can be found in your yard and in many wilderness environments. Make sure you research carefully before picking and eating any plant and have reliable pictures for reference of all the plants.

  1. Dandelion – Most everyone can identify a dandelion and the plant can be eaten at any stage of growth. The roots are edible as well, and many make tea/beverages out of the roots.
  2. Plantain – Not to be confused with the banana shaped fruit. Plantains have medicinal properties according to many, and it can be used as a topical treatment for many skin aliments, and of course can be eaten as well.
  3. Miners lettuce – Can be found growing in flowerbeds, sidewalk cracks or even in the middle of your yard
  4. Lamb’s-quarters – Commonly called wild spinach
  5. Burdock – People spend countless hours and money trying to eradicate this invasive weed, which by the way, is grown in many parts of the world for eating and is considered a delicacy. The roots are especially sought after in many cultures.
  6. Stinging Nettles  – Delicious eaten or brewed into a tea, just are careful of the stinging nettles.
  7. Purslane  Is very common and no doubt, you can find some growing up through a crack in the sidewalk, in stoned areas or even in your flowerbed.
  8. Cattails – Can be found near water in many parts of the world and if you have a pond on your property, you may find some.
  9. Daylilies  Can usually found in flowerbeds but also can be found growing wild in ditches and around country lanes and all parts of the plant are edible. The roots are especially sought after.
  10. Primrose  Some consider primrose evasive while other encourages it for its white and yellow flowers, but the flowers can be eaten or steeped to make a flavorful tea as well.

5.) Outdoor Cooking

If lost or stranded, you will have to cook over open flames so what better place to practice than over a campfire in your own backyard. Food cannot just be tossed into the coals or flames and then dragged out when you think it may be done. Learn how to fashion cooking grates using green saplings, or use flat heated rocks as frying/cooking surface. You may think you know how to cook, because the microwave is handy, but it takes some knowledge and skill to cook over an open flame in all kinds of weather.

The above list is just a few of the skills needed to survive. With some imagination, you can come up with other skills that maybe needed, and when you do, start practicing them so you can master the art of survival.

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Camp Fire vs. Survival Fire vs. Cooking Fire

Camp Fire Vs Survival Fire

What is one thing that separates man from all other living creatures? Fire. Animals have been known to create and use tools, simple tools, but tools nonetheless. Man is the only master of the magical fire. But just like tools, there are different types of fire and different uses for fire. Check out this excellent article below by The 7 P’s Blog to learn the difference between a survival fire and a cooking fire.

Check out:Camp Fire vs. Survival Fire vs. Cooking Fire

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How to Make Fire with Flint and Steel

Flint and Steel Fire

A basic tenant in survival is making fire, without it humans are at a great disadvantage to nature. Basic flint and steel firecraft has been around since the dawn of man. As advanced as we are in the modern day, sometimes basic skills like this bewilder the iPhone toting individual. Join Dave Canterbury as he shows you the proper basics of making fire with flint, steel, and char cloth.


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7 Methods of Primitive Fire Starting

primitive Fire Starting

You find yourself in the woods, night is falling and the warmth from the setting sun is fading. Temps are dropping quick and your bones are starting to chill. You need fire, but a matches are a luxury you no longer have.

You do have a pair of shoes and a pocket knife. How will they help you start a fire? Check out this excellent article below by field and stream to learn 7 primitive methods to start a fire.

Read more at… 7 Methods of Primitive Fire Starting

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8 Solar Fire Starting Tips You Must Know

Solar Fire Starting

As long as the sun is out, you always have a source of fire. The energy of the sun, even though it is 93 million miles away, is still enough to light some tinder if focused properly. There are a few things you are going to have to know before you try to start a fire with the sun. This article from Willowhaven Outdoors will set you straight on how to start a solar fire.

8 Solar Fire Starting Tips You Must Know

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Char Cloth What Is It and How Do I make It

 char cloth

Most people know it as char cloth but it is also called “charpaper”. Char cloth is made using vegetable fiber and the most common fiber used is cotton but it can also be made from linen and jute.

The process to covert the cloth to carbon form is called “pyrolysis”, which is nothing more than the decomposition of molecules by heat to break a chemical substance down into a simpler form. The making of char cloth causes a chemical reaction as it forces most of the gases out of the material, but not all of them, otherwise you would end up with a pile of black ash.

Synthetic materials would not reduce to carbon form when heated, synthetic material is not organic and would essentially melt away. Burning of this type material may also produce toxic fumes.

The process reduces the material to its carbon form, however if heated too long it will reduce to ash form. It may take a bit of practice to get the cloth to where it can be handled without crumbling apart and yet has achieved the low ignition point.

One hundred percent cotton tee shirts are ideal for making char cloth and some have had luck using cotton balls as long as they say 100 percent cotton.

The cloth once converted correctly is slow burning with a low ignition temperature. The material can be ignited with a single spark, which in turn is used to ignite dry tinder. Once you have char cloth all you need to create an ember is a spark.

Always make your char cloth outside where having a fire is not a safety hazard. The process will create fumes/gases.

Making Char Cloth

Materials Needed

1.) Small metal container than can be sealed tightly such as a mint tin, (altoids) or other container.

2.) Cotton, linen or jute fabric

3.) Tool (s) to cut the material to fit into the container

4.) Fire source, open flame is recommended

5). Heavy gloves to handle the hot container or metal pliers/tongs large enough to grasp the container

6.) Tool (s) to create a small hole in the container lid, use a small nail, or drill a hole

The hole is essential. It is needed to allow the gases to escape and yet is not so large as to allow oxygen to reach the material. Use a finishing nail end and just puncture the metal with the tip of the nail.

Cut the cloth to fit into the can and you can roll or layer the material. Seal and place close to the flame, you just want heat applied to the bottom or one side, in other words do not allow the flame to lick up the sides or over the top of the container. You want slow partial combustion.

Once on the flame you will see, smoke/gas escaping from the hole after a few minutes. The gas is flammable. Once the smoke stops flowing out the hole or is reduced dramatically, you can flip the can over to make sure the entire material has been charred, and then look for more smoke. Remove if you do not see any.

Leaving the container on the heat after the gases have stopped flowing out the hole will allow oxygen to enter which will accelerate combustion, and this of course will burn up the material. The gases exiting the hole prevent oxygen from entering.

Let cool and then remove the cloth. Check your work by creating a spark to see if the char cloth will take the spark and form an ember. Once lit char cloth can be difficult to extinguish. You may have to seal it in a metal container to deprive it of oxygen; otherwise, it will burn up the entire piece and can be a fire hazard if left unattended.

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