Fire starting – a survival skill

The skill of kindling a fire was once crucial. In the past, in the Northern Hemisphere, our ancestors had to wear multiple layers of clothing to maintain warmth in winter, or during chilly autumn and spring seasons. These layers consisted of many kilograms of mostly wool or tanned animal skins. It is estimated that these winter clothes could weigh around 10 kg. In case of continuous precipitation and the inability to dry such a quantity of clothes, the thermal insulation efficiency dramatically decreases, and wet clothes weigh much more. Maintaining body warmth was a serious challenge in countries like Ireland and Great Britain. It is because of high precipitation level. Strong wind also didn’t made it easier. In the history, maintaining the dryness of clothes was incomparably more difficult than today, when we have access to even very inexpensive perfectly waterproof materials. Without fire, our ancestors could simply die from hypothermia in a very short time. The indispensable role of fire in cooking meals was a different story back then. Fire was also, for millennia, the only source of light after dark. It is precisely for these reasons that the skill of effectively kindling a fire was crucial. Today in survival situations, kindling a fire it is an absolutely fundamental skill as well.

Bonfire in the forest and tent Also nowadays, the skill of kindling a fire can save lives. Fire is beautiful. I think we can all agree that there is something magical about a bonfire:) Usually, when we need a fire the most, it is the most difficult to kindle. In cold and damp weather without access to dry wood, it is much more demanding than on a sunny day. Skills, equipment (even basic equipment – depending on skills and the chosen ignition technique, it can be just a knife and what we find in the forest to make a bow drill, or even such unrefined methods as a gasoline canister and a lighter), and a certain skill acquired through experience are needed.

During an expedition into the wilderness, in wet and cold weather, the first thing to do when we stop marching is to quickly and effectively kindle a fire. When we stop and the muscles stop generating heat in challenging weather conditions, the body quickly cools down. It is MUCH harder to kindle a fire with numb hands. It may even turn out to be impossible. There is a simple universal test to assess the critical moment. If we have ANY problems touching the thumb to the little finger, we should quickly light a fire, as shortly after, it may become impossible.

Kindling a fire is a skill worth mastering. This is just an introduction; soon there will be more techniques for kindling and maintaining a fire, as well as using fire. See you soon!

Howgh! To be continued.

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