You need to clear your mind, to be away from society’s constant noise and problems -- so you decide to go out for a hike, to walk deep in the woods and find yourself. For some reason, you feel adventurous and decide to go further down where only trees and animals can be found.

Times goes by, the sun goes down and so does your phone; you have no way to retrace your steps until a new day begins. What’s the most important thing you have to take care of? Fire! You have to start a fire, regardless of if you were prepared or not.

Even if you haven’t wandered out of your way into a life-or-death situation, you should always keep in mind how to easily start a fire. No need to worry if you don't already know how - here are three easy-to-follow tips for starting a fire in an emergency

For starters, what's so great about fire?

Not only does fire look great for an instagram post, but its crucial for your survival. We often take it for granted, but it provides most of what we need to stay alive -- it provides warmth, it keeps you dry, it’s essential to cook food, and will provide enough light to make you aware of your surroundings.

When you are out in the wild and the sun goes down, you need to start a fire. It’s that simple -- but what happens when you do not have the tools to easily achieve this?

Veteran campers and hitchhikers will leave their house with fire-starting kits. If you didn't think that far ahead, you can still make a life-saving fire -- as long as you make use of these three life-saving tips!

Three Must-Know Tips to Start a Fire:

  1. Gather what you can - as close as you can.

If you have nothing - no fire-starting kit or similar - you’ll have to make use of whatever you can get. Dry leaves, dry grass, wood shavings, dry outer bark, strips of inner bark, and - if you can manage to get one - pine.

You probably want the best of the best to start a proper fire, but remember, you are in an emergency scenario. It’s best to look within immediate surroundings and not move too far away from your camp. Grab as many things as you can and stay within the boundaries of your improvised-camp -- keep what’s useful and discard whatever isn’t going to help.

Remember, it’s probably not going to be top-quality material, but it will be life-saving material. And that’s what truly matters.

Once you have more than enough to start, you have to use what you have to kindle your fire.

  1. Use what you have as best as you can when structuring tinder.

It is a popular belief that you only need a piece of wood to start a fire. Step one grab wood, step two throw it on the ground, step three light it on fire - done! In reality, you'll get nowhere with that method. Structuring tinder the right way is as important as the material you will feed into your fire.

A poor structure will harm your fire in multiple ways, even when you are using the best wood possible. In this scenario, you are using whatever you can, bad wood included -- paying extra attention to your tinder structure is key.

Safety first: establish a stone ring around where your fire will be. This will keep your fire in one place. It will also keep people out of the way. After you have your ring done, place the finer woods in it - wood shavings and bark, for example. This will be your base.

Medium-sized pieces of wood will go on top of your base, in the shape of a pyramid. Remember not to pile things on top of one another, but rather, let air flow through your wood-made structure -- that way, your fire will get plenty of oxygen and won’t suffocate before it starts.

  1. Keep an eye on the fire for a while.

Now the structure is done and you have taken care of the initial ignition with a match or a lighter. But the job is not over yet! The first 10 to 20 minutes are crucial to keep your fire alive. Keep looking at your fire until the right amount of time passes and you are confident your fire won’t die. If things start losing power, blow or fan gently into it.

Once you are sure your fire is set, you can start to add medium- to large-sized pieces of wood into it. That way, your fire will continue with enough strength to keep you and anyone around you warm and safe.

After a while, you can take it easy - but you cannot forget about your fire entirely. Your fire will stay alive as long as it has fuel to burn through -- with no wood to consume, it’ll eventually wither and die. Throw wood at it every once in a while, but don’t over-do it. Otherwise, it’ll be harder to put out. 

One final recommendation

Remember, keep it safe. You don’t need to burn down an entire forest to stay warm for one night. One-too-many wildfires have started because one camper wasn’t careful. Because of that, it is a must we focus on looking after ourselves and our planet.

Once you have no more use for your emergency-fire, put it out. Don’t think nature is going to take care of it for you. To make sure the fire is out and will stay out, throw a generous amount of water onto it and bury whatever wood is. Don’t underestimate the fire’s ability to re-kindle itself.

When you put out a fire, you have to be as thorough as you were when you started it.

Back to blog