Heat, oxygen and fuel make up the fire triangle, also known as the combustion triangle. These ingredients are needed to build most fires.
Heat sparks the flame of the fire. Heat sources can be chemical based, like a lighter or a match, or friction based like a farrow rod, rocks or bow drill.
Fire needs enough oxygen to sustain combustion. Without oxygen, the flames of the fire cannot breath and will die off. Ambient air is made up of approximately 21% oxygen. Most fires only require about 16% oxygen to burn. As such, air acts as the oxidising agent in the chemical reaction of a flame. So when the fuel burns, it reacts with the oxygen to release heat and generate combustion.
Fuel is combustible material that feeds the flames of the fire. Fuel usually consisted of tinder, kindling, and chopped wood.
Tinder is the smallest of the fuel materials and is used to make up a loose tinder bundle in the first step of the fire building process. Tinder can be dry paper, dry debris, pine needles, leaves or cotton.
Kindling usually consists of small sticks and branches. It is flammable material that is slightly larger than tinder and is used to create a teepee above the tinder bundle.
The last and most obvious type of fuel is chopped wood. Larger logs of wood are essential for a roaring, long lasting fire.
A loose tinder bundle can be made by laying your tinder fuel items in a small pile on the ground. It should look somewhat like a bird’s nest and have plenty of small open areas throughout the bundle for oxygen to breath through. This can be done by fluffing the bundle so that it is not too compact.
To build a teepee of kindling, lay the kindling branches in a triangular shape above the loose tinder bundle. Leave an opening in your teepee on the side the wind is blowing against. This will ensure that your fire gets the oxygen that will feed through the structure.
Now is the time to spark the tinder bundle with your choice of heat source. Lighting the bundle can be as easy as using a lighter or a match or as primitive as striking two rocks together.
Once a flame is ignited, provide oxygen to the flame by blowing on it. Because the kindling lays above the tinder, the flames should build up toward the teepee structure of kindling and light it on fire as well.
Now that the fire is lit, build the fire by adding larger branches and eventually chopped firewood. Always ensure that there are gaps between logs as you go so that oxygen is able to course through the fire and feed the flames.
It is absolutely vital that you put the fire completely out when you are done. Be diligent and take your time. Don’t simply pour a bucket of water on it and call it a day. Sprinkle water on the fire to start the process. As you sprinkle water over the embers, stir them with a stick or shovel. You’ll know the fire is completely extinguished when you cannot hear any hissing sounds or see any steam and the ground cool to the touch with the back of your hand.
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