One of the most common instincts we carry in our genes is the need for fire. There is nothing like sitting around an open campfire under the stars and just staring into the flames. But the knowledge of how to start a fire in wet weather has fallen by the wayside in recent generations.
With our lives becoming a lot more reliant on modern technology, some of the basic skills we as humans used to learn from a very young age, have all but disappeared.
Could you start a fire from scratch? Or put another way, do you know how to start a fire with wet sticks?
This skill could be the single most important one that you will ever learn. More importantly, knowing how to start a fire in wet weather could be enough to save your life, and those traveling with you, like family and friends.
Why is Fire so Important?
Fire serves many purposes in our lives. Although not as many these days with our homes filled with modern conveniences. But it can still serve the same purpose as it did a hundred or so years ago.
It provides 3 very important things you will definitely need on the road. And maybe even in your home, if the power and gas are suddenly shut off.
Firstly, fire creates heat. If you are caught in a winter storm without heating, it won’t take you long to appreciate a flame, regardless of its size. The heat a fire can provide is enough to save your life, especially if you are caught outdoors.
The second thing fire provides, is a way to cook food and water. Building a fire just after bugging out is going to be important. Use it to boil water, thereby killing off any bacteria it contains.
Not all food needs heating, but doing so will kill bacteria and make it safe to eat. Cooking any birds will also make the meat safe to eat.
The third thing fire provides is protection from wildlife. While the initial light might draw some animals closer for curiosity’s sake, the fire will also stop harmful wildlife from coming too close. If it does, grabbing a burning branch will be enough to scare them off.
There is another great use for fire and its importance will lie with you, personally. A fire has a way of bringing people together. Staring into the flames while listening to the crackles and pops is almost hypnotic. It invokes memories, creates dreams and offers us comfort as nothing else can.
The 5 Steps on How to Start a Fire in Wet Weather
Rather than just learning how to build a fire, it’s best to understand how to start a fire in wet weather. This guide will help you find the type of materials needed for a fire to catch. It will hopefully help you stay warm when the air turns gloomy.
Step #1: You Need Dry Wood
Unless you find dry wood, there’s probably no point in trying to light a fire. Wet wood will not burn, no matter how badly you want it to. The key is to know how to find wood that’s dry, even when everything else looks soaked.
If there are other trees around, look around their bases. Trees make wonderful shelters and wood found underneath them is normally dry enough to burn. Some of their low-hanging branches might also be dead and dry enough to catch fire.
Don’t be afraid to cut them off and use them if needed. It might just be the difference you need to survive.
If you see any dead-falls, or dead trees that have fallen over, they might have plenty of timber underneath the trunk. While the rain has soaked the wood on top, the wood lying underneath will probably be dry enough to light up.
If you have an ax or tomahawk, chop some of the undersides of the trunk itself. It should be dry and makes for great firewood.
The other place to look for wood is in any nearby caves or under overhangs. Natural formations can sometimes shelter trees or discarded timbers. Take the time to explore your immediate surroundings for the best sources.
If you only find a small amount, you can always lie some of the moist timber next to the fire once it’s burning. It might just dry sufficient enough to burn once the original timber has burnt down.
Step #2: Dry Tinder to Kick-start the Flames
Ever heard of a tinder box? Don’t be afraid to organize one when stockpiling for the end of days. Dry tinder is just as hard to find as dry wood.
And no matter how much you try; a good fire is not going to catch if you don’t have a decent amount of dry tinder to help the flames take hold.
Keep the dry kindling in a small box and store it in your bug out bag. It will come in mighty handy and doesn’t weigh a lot. Good tinder is fairly lightweight, which is why the flames will catch to it more easily than denser wood.
Step #3: A Great Fire Starts with a Good Foundation
If a rainstorm does catch you out and you need to build a fire fast, the last thing you want is to start it twice because the first time didn’t work. A great fire will always start with a solid foundation, then built up on top of that.
The material that will catch fire the quickest should be at the very bottom. If you have paper, scrunch it up into a tight ball to keep it from burning away too quickly.
Next, layer your kindling on top of that, starting with the smallest pieces and slowly growing in size. Don’t bunch it all up. Make sure air can flow through the pile easily. The better the airflow, the better the flames will catch.
Finally, lay small bits of wood on top.
Heat rises, and so do flames. Once you start the paper or tinder burning, the flames will heat all the timber above it, the fire building from the ground up.
As the smaller pieces burn away, replace them with larger pieces, slowly growing in size until there are plenty or red-hot embers at the base of the flames.
Step #4: Shield it from the Elements
Make sure you set your fire up where it’s not going to get rain falling directly onto it. If possible, build your fire underneath an overhang, or even under a tree if necessary. Just make sure the lower branches of the tree won’t catch fire themselves.
Step #5: Learn to Make a Good Fire-starter
Always keep a number of ways to light a fire handy. Keep a book or two of matches and a couple of lighters. If possible, keep a couple of different firelighters as well. If you can’t buy commercially available ones, it’s not too hard to make your own.
Soak some cotton balls in petroleum jelly, coat lint from a clothes dryer in candle wax, or even use black powder mixed with nail polish remover. These are some great ways to create your own and will work a treat when you really need them to.
Don’t Leave Home Without This Skill
Lighting a fire in the wet isn’t as hard as you might think. The skill to succeed in this is to not panic and think about your situation. Your life, and the lives of your family, might depend on you finding the necessary tools to build them a life-saving fire.