Imagine being stuck in the wilderness. Your surroundings are damp and cold… and you have no heat source. These are the times when mastering the art of starting a fire isn’t a “nice to have”… it can make all the difference between life and death
It doesn’t matter if you’re a camper, a hiker or getting ready for the end of the world as we know it. Understanding how to get a fire starting in wet conditions is absolutely crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we will explain the principles involved in getting a fire started in even the most damp conditions.
Why You Need To Know How To Light A Fire In Damp Conditions
Fire serves multiple roles in the outdoors. It provides warmth, cooks your food, boils your water and even provides you with comfort and protection. Fire is always a survival necessity, but this becomes a serious challenge in wet conditions, be it rain, snow, or even high humidity.
Preparation Is The Key to Success
Before getting into the meat of specific techniques, it’s crucial to prepare properly for fire starting in damp conditions. Here are some essential steps to follow:
You Need To Have A Fire Kit
Reliable fire kits are not expensive, so you should invest in a good one, rather than just the cheapest one you find. A good fire kit will include waterproof matches, fire starters, a butane lighter, and dry tinder. Store them in a waterproof container or a sealed plastic bag inside your bugout bag or hiking backpack.
Tinder and Kindling
Gather and prepare your dry tinder and kindling in advance. It’s one less thing you have to do to stress yourself out in a survival situation. Good tinder and kindling includes dry leaves, birch bark, small twigs, or wood shavings. Keep them in a waterproof bag.
Setting up a shelter or even using a tarp to protect your fire-starting area from rain or snow can be a real game changer when it comes to not only making a fire, but ensuring that your fire stays lit.
Techniques for Starting A Fire in Wet Conditions
There are a number of effective techniques for getting a fire started in less than ideal conditions. The more tools you have at your disposal, the more options you can have when it comes to getting your fire started, staying warm and cooking food.
Waterproof matches are one of the best things you can have in wet conditions. These matches will light even when wet and can be an excellent backup source of fire even when they’re not. However, it’s essential to store them in a waterproof container to prevent accidental exposure to moisture. There’s only so much moistures the matches can stand before they don’t work.
A ferrocerium rod, also known as a firesteel or ferro rod, is much more durable than waterproof matches and a highly reliable fire starter. Scrape the rod with your pocket knife or a special striker to create sparks. This can be used to ignite your tinder.
A fire piston is less common than some of these other options, but a highly effective tool for starting fires when it’s damp. The fire pistol rapidly compresses air, igniting the tinder inside the piston’s chamber. This method can be used successfully even in wet conditions if you have a dry tinder source to get things started
Solar Fire Starting
On a sunny days, you can use a magnifying glass or even a clear plastic bag filled with water to concentrate sunlight onto your tinder. Again, you’re going to need the sun for this and it helps if it’s directly overhead.
Fire Plough and Fire Saw
The fire plough and fire saw are primitive methods for starting a fire that work just as well as they did thousands of years ago. The fire saw and plough work together to create friction between two pieces of wood, which generates intense heat. These methods don’t work as well in damp conditions, but if you prepare your dry tinder properly, they can still work.
Fire From Electricity
If you have no other options, you can attempt to generate fire using a battery and steel wool. Touch the battery terminals to the steel wool, which can ignite and can be used to light dry tinder. Exercise extreme caution when using this method.
How To Build A Fire In Damp Conditions
Regardless of how you start the fire, the key to success is building and sustaining the fire. Here are some effective techniques for getting a fire going and keeping it going under wet conditions:
The teepee fire is the classic method for arranging kindling and fuelwood. Arrange your fuel in a cone or teepee shape. This structure allows for proper airflow, which dries out damp wood more efficiently.
The lean-to fire places a long piece of kindling against a larger piece of fuelwood, which creates a sheltered space under itself. This structure helps protect the fire underneath from moisture and rain, just as a lean-to protects people inside from the elements.
An upside-down fire is also known as a “self-feeding fire,” which stacks the largest fuelwood at the bottom, with progressively smaller pieces on top, ending with the tinder on top of the kindling. This method prevents the fire from being smothered by damp or wet fuelwood.
A platform fire is built on a flat, elevated surface preventing the fire from sitting in water or on the damp ground. Rocks or logs can be used as a base for your fire.
In damp or wet conditions, fire starting can be a daunting task, but is possible. Using the right techniques, tools, and general preparedness, you can ignite that crucial flame. It doesn’t matter you’re camping, hiking, or facing down the end of the world as we know it; understanding how to start a fire in adverse weather can save your life. Hone your fire-starting skills before you have to. This will ensure they’re at your disposal when the time comes.
Have you ever had to light a fire in damp conditions? What methods were most effective for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.