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Looking for some input on fire building. I usually do fine getting a fire started but I seem to struggle to keep it going well. It seems that when I add fuel, I'm not placing it correctly and end up starving my fire of oxygen. Works great for making red-hot coals, not so good for a nice warm fire to sleep near overnight. I think the problem is in how I set things up before I light it. How do you guys do it?

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I typically make a modified lean-to fire. I prefer it over other fire types because it easy to assemble, fairly weather proof (a little bit of rain wont hurt it), and conserves fuel. Perfect for cooking. To build it do as follows:

 

1) Lay a large stick/small log in your fire pit, and of course remember the annoying fire safety rules about distance from combustible materials and all that.

 

2) Place tinder by base log.

 

3) Lean kindling on top of base log, so that tinder is covered, yet there is still enough room for O2 to circulate.

 

4) Light tinder material.

 

5) Add more kindling until you have a decent sized flame going.

 

Sorry, no pictures or diagrams. Hope you can figure it out.

 

Notes: Be careful not to add your large fuel too early, this may result in smothering your fire. If used for cooking, two base logs can be used instead of just one, and pot can either be placed directly on top of logs, or a grate can be installed.

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sortta like the 2 second rule, increase speed, increase the gap between the car in front of you. the bigger the branches, the more airspace you'll need. i'll get a good bundle of tender,then shavings, then kindling, from starting with twigs, then up to the size of your thumb, this whole pile, about the size of a basketball. with the twigs you got like 1/8 to 1/4 inch gap inbetween the sticks, so you don't smother it. once its going, its kinda too late, usually i'm working with dry wood, so once it catches, i'm piling a layer of sizes. I'll have a huge fuel log on one side usually, then a piece i can put my hand around, good club size, layered on it, perpindicular and build the fire into a lean to/log cabin style structure, getting good coals and still get air to it. with the club size sticks i'll try to keep about 1/2 inch to 3/4 of air gap between'm, and as the wood keeps on catching pretty good, i'll stack another one on it, jus in case its wet and have time to dry out, before the one before it, is gone. a piece of cardboard, about a sheet size of paper, is terrific for fanning the flames. Huge difference between burning dry red oak, dry pine, green pine, pine 2x4's, birch, alders, Name of the game is practice. If your burning Oak, the trick is twice as much tender and small kindling as possible, and keep most of your pieces smaller than club size, and try to get it seasoned. green red oak, is unforgiving, as are green alder's.

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My wife and I are big time campers and you know that when camping in a tent or RV camping is not camping without a fire to set around and watch. We both are good at starting fires and keeping the the fire going. The method we have always used is the Lean-To type also. I find this type of fire is the best. As far as adding fuel to the fire...we just split our wood the best we can and keep it covered with a tarp. But be careful when covering the wood with a trap....snakes like to find warm places to sleep at night and a tarpped wood pile is perfect for them.......Trust me I know from first hand dealings....

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find some dried out pinecones, soak them in kerosene for a few days and then dip them in parrifin wax . this will ensure a good fire any time of day or night. just pull a few petals off the cone and light them up Id use a pair of pliers to pull them off with , put some fritos in they light up easily the oil in them burns hot. small on the bottom medium on top of that, and larger on top. perfect for making a fire or for a woman..bubba

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Good advice for the order of fire starting. If you don't mind using pre-made kindling, a cotton ball soaked in petroleum jelly will light easily, burn hot and last for a good 10 to 20 minutes. My most vulnerable time is between smoking tender and igniting kindling. That is part of why the cotton ball works well for me. I also carry a magnesium block for the same purpose. If I can get a spark into it, it will light anything that is burnable. I "SHOULD" be able to start a fire with one match from scratch, but if it is "for score" I want the odds stacked in my favor. I practice the scratch method but I prep so I'll never need it.

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I used to use WETFIRE, but then found out (the hard way) that after about 1 year of shelf life, the stuff just stops burning. (finally got it to burn after throwing it INTO the fire. Good thing I have a back up magnesium block. I'm switching over to Tinderquick. I know many people love cotton balls baked in petroleum jelly, but I just haven't gotten around to that yet.

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for snow wet grass or leaves 2 inches as big as the fire you are making thick make a base get green branches about 1 inch to 1 1/2 diameter lay side by side same size this is your base and can be used on ice

look up cribbing and this is what your building 2 sideways apart as large as stick or your fire size

then sideways again kind of like a tic tac toe pattern in the center place your kindling dry leaves grass small

sticks pine or aromatic wood shavings cedar or such they have some resin as you stack gradually bring your

cribbing closer together leaving a hole 4 or so inches at the top this crates a funnel effect as the tinder

burns each gap in the cribbing allows air to come through creating a blow torch effect and you can add tinder through the hole in the top until the larger sticks become involved

 

basically the same for a ground fire level the ground rocks or logs lined around to hinder fire crawl

and same process

 

I have used the tee pee and just pile the crap up method but the above works best

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fire burns upward so when adding your larger fuel regardless of how you start your fire try to prop it up agianst the other fuel to maximize the exposed surface area.

 

I use petroleum jelly drier lint balls for emergency fire starting and keep it in 35mm film canisters since I have a bunch of them lying around.

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While you guys are discussing how to start a fire, please, let's keep in mind the dangers as well. Sparks can easily start a crown-fire, especially in dry areas. And, make very sure that a fire is actually out before you decamp. A camp fire will sometimes appear to be out, but still have some hot coal which a breeze can stir up. I know most of you guys are experienced campers, but not everyone is. A year ago last summer we had a massive wildfire up here that was started by an inexperienced hiker who thought it was out.

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While you guys are discussing how to start a fire, please, let's keep in mind the dangers as well. Sparks can easily start a crown-fire, especially in dry areas. And, make very sure that a fire is actually out before you decamp. A camp fire will sometimes appear to be out, but still have some hot coal which a breeze can stir up. I know most of you guys are experienced campers, but not everyone is. A year ago last summer we had a massive wildfire up here that was started by an inexperienced hiker who thought it was out.

 

Thanks for the reminder. Texas is DRY this year. We've had some rain but we're still 26 inches or so below where we should be.

Just as an aside, remember that a fire is a GREAT signal device in the dark. You may not WANT to be signaling but you will be. I learned in RVN that from 2,000 feet I can see a cigarette lighter for MILES against a dark background.

You might check out the Dakota Fire Pit

 

http://www.survivaltopics.com/survival/the-dakota-fire-hole

 

for an idea on how to build a contained fire with minimum signal effect. It has quite a few pluses; the only down side is you gotta dig and on frozen ground ..... well, you know.

 

Still, never forget a fire is a signal whether you want it to be or not. During the day, building close to trees allows the canopy to break up the smoke PROVIDED you can do so without setting the tree on fire. Femvet is right (she didn't say it but did imply it) getting burned up in a forest fire would really be a bad thing on a day your biggest threat was freezing to death! On any other day it would also not be my first choice, by the way.

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i place my fire starter (on top of a large dry piece of bark) next to a larger stick say six inches in diameter. Now place a smaller stick parallel to the first stick about 2 inches away. place pinkie sized sticks perpendicular to and leaning on top of the larger stick. This makes an A frame with your flame in the center. add fuel as needed. if you choke the fire you lift the second stick that is parallel to the first. this increases the o2 to the fire.

 

 

One little thing that i keep in my fire starting kit is a pencil sharpener. makes some fine tinder out of small sticks.

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I use the log cabin methos mostly, think "lincoln log building". The gaps between the logs allow great air flow. I lay the pieces (logs parallel to each other, then 1 on each end until desired height is reached) and place my tinder and kindling in the center; then build a "roof" with small sticks but not snug to each other. I actually use big pieces for my 2 base logs, as they will continually heat up and then burn better. The lean-to method is very effective and this is just another idea. The "too big, too fast" rule is probably the most important.

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The self feeding fire like Regulator5 talked about works great and doesn't have to be tended to as much making it a good night time fire.

I fork in 3's In my BOB I keep 3 ways of doing anything and if I can not use it for 3 things I don't carry it. For fire I keep the cotton and petroleum jelly. Steel wool and a 9 volt battery, Matches. bic lighters, and lint balls.

I seen a youtube vid yesterday where a guy took a log about 10" in Dia and about 1 foot long and split it into 4 pieces, It looked like very dry pine, He stood all 4 pieces up back the way they they came off the log and started a fire in the middle of the split. When it got going the flame was coming out the top of the splits. He was using it for cooking and it worked great. I think it was called a Swiss something or another. I'll try to find it and post a link

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