Starting a Fire With Sticks – Tips For Newbies
I have nothing against owning things like matches, magnesium sticks, and lighters for starting a fire. The problem I have is that many people rely on them too much when in the wild. What if you lose your matches or lighter? Will know the steps for starting a fire with sticks? Primitive fire starting is something we should all learn because you never know when you’re going to find yourself in a survival situation. In this article, we’re going to show you some awesome survival skills that will make you much more efficient in the wild (and possibly save your life).
When Can Starting a Fire With Sticks Come in Handy?
As a society, we’ve become way too reliant on technology. Survival skills that were once known by everyone are only known by a small percentage of the population today. I have nothing against technology. But I do have a grudge against the fact that people aren’t as self-sufficient as they should be. Starting a fire with sticks is just one of many bushcraft skills you should know. Whether you’re stranded on a deserted island, trapped in the desert, or setting up camp in the forest, it’s an excellent skillset to have. Below, we’ll show you several ways to do it effectively.
Timing is Everything
Want to hear the biggest mistake people make when build a fire in the wild? They build it too late. Most people will start building their fire after the sun is starting to go down. And this is a huge mistake! Then they get stuck in the dark trying to build a fire, which as you can imagine, makes it way more challenging than it already is. When starting a fire with sticks, always start building it at least 2-3 hours before the sun goes down. This will give you plenty of time to not only start the fire but also gather your wood needed to make it through the entire night without the fire going out.
Choosing The Right Place
While timing is super-important for primitive fire starting, so is choosing the right place. Why do I mean by the “perfect place”? Here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing a place to start your fire:
- Wetness: Obviously, trying to start a fire in an overly wet environment is going to be much more difficult than starting one in a dry environment. Try to choose a spot that isn’t wet.
- Space: You want a fair amount of physical space between your fire and surrounding foliage and trees. The reason why is because it’s very easy to start a forest fire if you’re not careful.
- Nearby Dirt or Water: When starting a fire with sticks, start your fire near dirt and/or water. Why? Because if the fire starts going out of control, you can use the dirt or water to put it out.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind regarding where to build your fire. The last tip is actually more important than it looks. If you accidentally start a forest fire in a survival situation, you’re much more likely to die (either from the heat or smoke inhalation). Now let’s talk about some safety tips for building your fire.
Safety Tips for Starting a Fire With Sticks
I know that you’re itching to check out the various ways to start a fire in the wild. Don’t worry- we’re almost there. In this section, we’re going to talk about some important safety tips for starting a fire with sticks. Keep in mind that 3,000+ deaths per year are attributed to out-of-control fires. Don’t allow yourself to become another statistic. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
- Make the closest structure to your fight at least 10 feet away (the further away, the better).
- Don’t build your fire under low-hanging branches. That’s a common way forest fires are started.
- Keep all flammable liquids and solid materials far away from your fire. How far? At least 10 feet, but the further the better.
- Pay attention to wind patterns before building your fire.
- Always keep dirt and/or water nearby to put the fire out if it starts growing out of control.
Even by following this primitive fire starting safety tips, there will still be accidents. But hopefully, these tips will dramatically lessen the amount of accidents that occur in the wild. Here’s a video that will talk about these fire safety tips more in-depth:
Method #1 – Bow Drill Method
The bow drill method is one of the most common ways for starting a fire with sticks. This method involves building an improvised bow that will be used to twist a stick to generate heat. Once enough heat is generated, hot embers will form, which can then be used to ignite your kindling.
As you can see from the picture (right), there are quite a few pieces involved with this method. So rather than “tell” you how to do it, I’d rather “show you”.
Here’s a video about how to perform the bow drill method when in the wild:
Method #2 – The Fire Plow
Some people consider the fire plow method to be one of the easiest methods for starting a fire with sticks. It’s an excellent method for when you don’t have lighters or matches. The fire plow does require a little prep work to get started, but once you have all the tools you’ll need, it’s easy to generate friction, and ultimately a fire. Here are the five steps to performing this primitive fire starting method:
- Step 1: Place your kindling at the end of your board.
- Step 2: Run a stick back and forth to form a long groove.
- Step 3: Rub the stick at a 35-degree angle up and down the board.
- Step 4: Transfer the embers to your kindling.
- Step 5: Blow on the kindling to ignite it into a full flame.
These are the four basic steps to starting a fire using the fire plow method. Now I understand that just reading them won’t make a lot of sense. So here’s a video that will show you exactly how to do it:
Method #3 – Hand Drill Method
The final method, the hand drill method, is one of the harder methods out there. Why? Because it requires a lot of physical endurance. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you can build a fire using this method, you can build a fire using any primitive fire starting method. You’re first going to need something called a “Fireboard”.
This is basically a piece of wood (preferably a sturdy one) in which you’ll put in a notch to collect embers. You then take a piece of wood and begin spinning it quickly to generate heat. With enough speed and persistence, you can make a fire using this method. Here’s how it’s done:
How to Put out a Fire Safely
Just like you want to focus on starting a fire with sticks safely, you also want to focus on putting a fire out safely. If you don’t put out a fire the right way, it can cause a forest fire. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- No More “Hissing”: Once you pour water on your fire, you should be listening for the end of the “hissing” noise that a dying fire tends to make. Once you don’t hear this hissing sound anymore, it’s safe to assume that the fire is completely dead.
- Wait a Few Minutes: Even after the fire has been put out, wait a few minutes before leaving. This might sound like being a little too paranoid, but what are a few extra minutes going to cost you? After a few minutes, you can walk away confident that the fire is out.
- Pour Dirt: After putting the fire out with water, go above and beyond by adding a layer of dirt to the embers that remain. This will ensure that any tiny embers that were left behind no longer have the potential of starting a forest fire. Walking on the fire accomplishes the same thing.
When starting a fire with sticks, ensuring that you’ve put out the fire is just as important as building it in the first place. It’s too easy to start a forest fire, especially when the surrounding greenery is old, dry, and dying.
Starting a Fire With Sticks – Bottom Line
While difficult at first, starting a fire with sticks will become easier the more you practice. I recommend that you practice these methods before going camping. That way, you can feel fully confident knowing that if you get lost, at least you’ll be able to keep warm and protect yourself from predators (and above all, not be stuck in the dark). Be sure to check out our article, Starting a Fire With a Dead Lighter. Thanks for reading!