Fire is a very important survival tool which we use to cook our meals, keep us warm and ward off wild animals. It can give us a sense of security by lighting our surroundings and keeping away pesky pests. For those that can’t get a fire going, it could mean a cold and hungry night, or if conditions are really bad it could mean hypothermia which can kill you.
Starting a fire isn’t always an easy task, especially when it’s raining or been raining and it’s wet outside. Starting a fire with wet wood can be very difficult, especially for the beginner. So it’s good to learn how to do it and to gets some practice, that way if such a situation does ever present itself, you’ll be prepared.
Here is how to start a fire with wet wood
To start off you need a collection of small, highly combustible items (tinder) for the initial flame which will be used to feed the wood. Tinder items may include pieces of paper, dead leaves, twigs and shredded bark of trees, or even a bird’s nest. It should not be placed on the damp ground to prevent it from absorbing moisture which will make it incombustible.
You also need to consider the kindling which acts as the first fuel stage ignited by the tinder to feed larger fuels. Kindling must be dry to guarantee a fire in wet conditions. You can test the kindling for dryness by breaking a twig or sawing wood in half. Wood is usually dryer on the inside, so you might be able to process the inside of wood down into kindling. The kindling should not press on tinder as this prevents circulation.
You can also look for branches (kindling) in places that are dryer like under trees. Trees can block some of the rain from hitting fallen branches on the ground below. You can also look under fallen trees or logs as well which can shield anything underneath it from the rain.
Tinder and kindling will not help if you place it directly on moist ground. Instead you need to create a barrier between the wet ground and your materials. You may use cardboard or lay twigs side by side to create a fire bed. Do not use very soggy limbs for this as they will transfer moisture to the tinder. You can shelter your fire from the rain using dense branches under a tree. To reduce risks of the fire spreading, you shouldn’t place limbs too close to the tree trunk.
To start a fire with wet wood, build a teepee over some tinder with your dryer pieces of kindling. Damper pieces of kindling should be placed around the fire so that it can dry as you gradually feed it to the fire. You need to be very methodical in the way you add the wood to the fire as excess will block out air and kill the fire. Inadequate wood is also a death sentence for the flames which need it.
There are many ways to start a fire. You should get in the habit of always carrying some kind of fire starter with you, and never leave home without one. That way you’ll be prepared to start a fire if the need arises. You can also pack a fire starter kit with you which can make the process go a lot smoother. In your kit you can carry a few fire starters/igniters, as well as flame extenders, and some tinder. Just make sure you’ve water-proofed the items in your kit so they don’t get rendered useless if your kit gets wet.
You should also carry a knife on you. A good survival knife can be used for batoning wood or splitting it down into smaller pieces (kindling). When it’s wet and rainy outside you might need to get to the dryer parts on the inside of wood and a knife can help you do that. In addition to processing wood down into kindling, you can also use your knife to make feather sticks or scrape off some bark, both of which can be used to get a fire going.
An axe or hatchet are also great tools for processing wood, but you may not always have them with you. A knife doesn’t weight as much and you can easily take it everywhere you go. I recommend a survival knife – if it’s a good one it should be able to handle these kind of survival tasks.
These tips on how to start a fire with wet wood should hopefully keep you and your family safe and warm. Fire is a great servant but a ruthless master and even if the wood is wet, you need to take measures to prevent the fire from spreading. Remember that wet conditions shouldn’t let you compromise safety. Make sure to light fires in a way that it will be easy to control it in case of emergency. And don’t forget that if you come prepared it will be much easier to start a fire. And that’s important because in some instances a fire can literally save your life.