Save old lighters, they contain 4 times the flint you will ever use with the butane in them. If you are careful, you can slowly grind the flint out of the lighter and create a pile of flint shavings, you don’t need much, it acts like gunpowder. If you screw up, the worst that happens is an incredible spark, but that is what you want anyway in the end.
Pulling together all your fire materials BEFORE you start is essential, way too many fires die out while people are scrambling for dry fuel, so collect it early. Depending on where I’m camping, I look for white pine needles, or pine straw that is preferably still attached to the tree on a lower branch, but brown and brittle. Pine tar, within the needles, will help fuel the fire. Also, collect what used to be called “Woman’s wood”. That would be dead twigs on the lower parts of pine trees which are very small and make sure to gather a ton of them. Put them in a pouch to keep them dry while you collect.
You always have fire starting materials with you if you are wearing clothes. Lint from your pockets works great. Also as gross as it sounds, hair works well too. Curly hair burns faster and it all burns very fast, hence the reason to have your materials with you well in advance.
The inner bark of any birch or aspen will have a layer of dead bark that will remain burnable. I suggest breaking this up along with the pine straw and the sticks. Don’t be afraid to start a very tiny fire first. Add bigger sticks later.
One really good cheater is a candle or paraffin, which I always have with me when camping. Paraffin is nothing but solid petroleum byproduct You can shave the wax off a candle and create a coating that will allow the burning products to burn longer and hotter.
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Written By: Dave