The Essentials to Safer & Longer Lasting Fires
Fires are essential for surviving in almost any environment. Fire is required to purify water, cook food, create warmth, signal for help, and protection from wildlife. Therefore it is essential to learn the various methods of constructing fires.
Rock Ringed Fire Pit: A common method to prevent forest fires requires medium size to large rocks that will ring the fire pit. The rocks help to contain the fire in one location and they also act as a safety barrier for you in case you roll at night or accidentally step to close to the fire. The key to the construction is to allow for proper air flow, after lining up the rocks, consider using a shovel to remove some of the dirt to create a divot in the ground. When placing the wood on top, this small divot will allow the air to reach underneath the wood and create a larger flame and also help to start the fire quicker.
55 Gallon Metal Drum Fire Pit: A great urban environment alternative. Use a large metal drum or garbage can. Line the bottom with a brick or a few rocks and consider punching a few holes near the bottom of the can for the air flow. Next, throw in anything that burns – wood, cardboard, paper, leaves, clothes, fabric, etc. As the metal drum method has little air flow and is in a constrained space, you will require an accelerant to get the fire going evenly such as gasoline or alcohol. These can burn out quickly but also generate a lot of heat, the metal drum itself will retain heat all night long, long after the fire has gone out and therefore acts as a localized heater for your sleeping area. Using paper and leaves or anything coated in a chemical will create lots of black and gray smoke and should be considered by the party for safety and the air quality.
Signal Fire: When stranded in the wilderness or an urban environment and a rescue might be coming, creating a signal fire is easy and very effective as it can be seen for miles away. When in the wilderness, use lots of new fresh green branches, moss, needles and leaves – as they will put off the most smoke and the least fire. Build the fire tall with all the branches leaning together like a A-frame tent with the tinder and moss in the center. If in an urban environment, tires, plastic, Styrofoam and similar items will create a thick toxic plume – so once lit – stay away from the smoke. Either pile tires together and light on fire with gasoline or alcohol or throw everything in a large metal drum.
A little unknown trick is lining the bottom of a fire pit with smooth stones like river rocks. They will retain heat and keep the coals alive longer and are great for cooking things or using a personal warming devices. For example, if you have a large skillet size river rock in the fire all night long, in the morning it will be warm enough to sit on or reheat and use to cook eggs. Use small ones in your gloves and sleeping quarters to add warmth – just be sure that they are not so hot that they will melt the fabric of the tent or sleeping bag. Lastly, if you have a few pieces of coal, they are perfect to have in the heart of the fire as they will last throughout the night and allow you to restart the fire in the morning with some tinder and a few puffs of your breath. Also, be aware that some animals will be attracted to the light but will be afraid and wait in the shadows and therefore usually acts as a deterrent for most creatures.
There are dozens of tricks on how to start fires, build fires effectively, find the proper wood, and so forth. The above methods are great starter tricks to help anyone in a bind survive the night.
– Stay Safe