The most common way to begin a fire is to make a bed of tinder and then form
a 'wigwam' of kindling around it, starting with the lowest grade. In theory (!)
one match should light the tinder, and then the kindling will catch. You can
then gradually and carefully add higher and higer grades of wood to build up the
fire. For windy or light rainy days, lay a stack of kindling up against a log.
See also the section on matches.
In principle it is that easy, and I can explain little more than that. In practice it will take years of trying to perfect the technique. There simply is no substitute for practice. No amount of reading will help you any more. Go find someone who knows what they are doing and get out there and practice!
Matches are the easiest (but not the only) way to start a fire. I think that
the non-saftey 'strike anywhere' matches are the better type. Always carry some
to camp (and when hiking etc.). Keep them in a waterproof container (make sure
they cannot rub against anything).
You can use a lens (not all lenses!) to focus strong sunlight to a point. Given enough direct sunlight it should produce enough heat to ignite the tinder. You may have to be patient. This is indeed how some accidental fires are caused by the sun shining through broken bottles and such like. A magnify glass is the best known example for this technique but a telescope or camera lens could be used as well.
Often found in 'survival kits' the flint & steel can be a useful method,
as it can be tried many times unlike the 'one-strike' match. Flint is actually
found in many parts of the world (look at the top of chalk escarpments). When
you strike the flint and steel together, with effort, sparks are produced which
can ignite decent, dry tinder.
A spark from a battery can start a fire, even torch and radio batteries have
enough power to do this. Take two lengths of wire and connect them to the
terminals. Slowly bring the bare ends of the two pieces together. Just before
they touch a spark will be produced which you must catch on your tinder.
This is a friction method that requires a lot of practice but can be
surprisingly useful. It consists of a hardwood spindle being rotated on a
softwood base. This will first produce tinder, and then will ignite the tinder.
Carve a small depression at one end of the base block and cut a cavity below
it (in which you will put your tinder). Make an even, cylindrical spindle from
the hardwood. You will also need to make yourself a bow from a pliable wood
(hazel, bamboo with string made from bootlaces, hide or twine). You may also
find it helpful to have a block of stone or wood on which you can push down the
This is yet another friction method. Cut a small groove in a soft wood base and then 'plough' along the groove with the tip of a hardwood shaft, up and down the groove. This will produce fine shavings at first that will collect at the end, this is your tinder. Eventually the friction will ignite the tinder (with a lot of hard work!).
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