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How to Make a Fire

How to Make a Fire - Many different techniques for making fire (also called firemaking, firelighting or firecraft) exist. Smoldering plants and trees, or any source of hot coals from natural fires is the oldest way to make a fire. Other ancient techniques involve a fire drill or fire stick that is rotated or rubbed on a base. For thousands of years humans would strike a stone containing iron to produce sparks and then tinder was used to make a fire from the sparks. A flint alone does not produce incandescent sparks; it is the flint's ability to violently release small particles of iron, exposing them to oxygen that starts the burning. These methods have been known since the Paleolithic ages, and still commonly in use with certain 'primitive' tribes but difficult to use in a damp atmosphere. (The control of fire by early humans is said to date back to either Homo erectus or very early Homo sapiens, that is, hundreds of thousands of years ago, based on archaeological evidence of hearths).

The oldest way to make fire would have been to carry a burning coal around from a natural fire, and to keep it smoldering in dry plant material (e.g. sage, tobacco) that can hold a burning coal for long periods of time. Dry tinder can be added to the coal, and then blown on to form flames. The problem with this method is that the coal can burn out, and the coal needs new plant material over long periods of time to keep smoldering. It may have been difficult to travel long distances in wet conditions with a burning coal wrapped in such plant materials. Many natives in North America still use certain smoldering plants to keep a fire alive for days. Birch bark, tobacco, sage, and other plants smolder very well and provide both smoke for insect repelling, and hot coals for fire making.

Firecraft refers to the skills required to create, control and use fire. In its most commonly used sense, it refers to the making of fire using primitive methods, often in a survival situation. The term has come into popular use as a component of bushcraft.

How to Make a Fire


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