Fire is essential in our lives, and its control was one of the earliest human discoveries.
We need it to warm our bodies, especially during cold days. It gives us light, enables us to cook our food, and keeps us safe from danger.
The fire has been around for millions of years.
The discovery of the controlled use of fire was started by Homo erectus during the early stone age, around 0.2 to 1.7 million years ago.
Archaeologists discovered evidence of the controlled use of fire in Lake Turkana, Kenya, and Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa.
Let us now discuss below the benefits of fire during ancient times:
Benefits of Fire in the Ancient Times
Hominids benefited greatly from the discovery of fire.
It made them survive on cold nights and expand to different places with various climates. It helped them to live in caves, sleep on the ground, and protect their terrain.
The fire also allowed the hominids to ward off dangerous animals lurking at them at night as they slept.
The discovery of fire also led the hominids to cook and eat meat. They can create tools such as a spear for hunting and cutting meat for food through fire.
They also burn the grasses to hunt for animals instead of going after them in the wild.
In addition, they discovered that they could dry and preserve meat for future consumption using a fire. It has also protected the hominids from the danger caused by eating raw meat.
They understood how to build big fires that could clear the field and make it fertile. They have learned to plant crops apart from hunting for meat.
Meanwhile, they have started to learn to create art using fire. They built statues and pots made of ivory, clay, and stone.
Statues were used for worship, while pots were used for food. It also led to a special kind of interaction in the community. It brought people of all ages together to come and discuss things in the Hearth.
The level of communication developed and the community's relationship with each other. They learn to divide things in the community, such as hunting, gathering wood for fuel, and building a fire.
Those who know how to build a fire are considered the most powerful person in the community.
How to Start a Fire in the Wild
Those mentioned above are some of the benefits of fire during ancient times, and of course, it is still relevant even today.
We need fire to accomplish things inside our homes, factories, and even in the wild.
We need fire whenever we go out for adventures, especially at night.
Every man should know how to start a fire without matches because it is an essential survival skill. You will never guess when and where to build a fire, especially outdoors.
You might get lost in the forest and need to remember your things. Or your matches will go wet, or the weather will be exceedingly windy. Thus your matches or lighters could be more useful.
Here are some of the techniques to try to start a fire:
Fire from friction (wood, sticks, and tinder nest)
This type of method is the most difficult. It involves many techniques such as hand drill, Fire Plough, flint and steel, and a bow drill.
You need good wood, determination, and strong hands in a hand drill and Fire Plow.
You must create a nest from dry grass, bark, or leaves.
Next, you need to cut a V-shape notch on the fireboard and bark to catch the ember produced from spinning the spindle. The spindle is the stick that creates friction by spinning at the fireboard.
Then you will start spinning on the fireboard, produce heat from friction, and wait for embers to appear. When it appears, blow it gently to create a fire.
Choosing the wood and the spindle is crucial in these methods. The recommended types of wood and spindle are cedar, cottonwood, walnut, cypress, and aspen. The wood and spindle to be used must be dry as well.
Meanwhile, you will need a board, bow, socket, drill, and cord for the bow drill technique. The socket will pressure the spindle as you spin it on the bow and the board.
You can use a rock or wood as a socket in this technique. The cord can be anything you have, like a shoelace.
Meanwhile, the bow can be made of wood with a slight curve. Start sawing the bow back and forth. It will create friction between the spindle and the board.
Embers will appear on the board and blow it gently until it creates a flame. Transfer the embers to dry leaves or tinder nests after that.
Fire from rocks and steel
Other materials are flint and steel instead of wood, sticks, and dry leaves. If you don't have these things with you, you can always improvise.
You can use your pocket knife's steel blade, quartzite, birch, char cloth, or fungus. Something in your backpack will always resemble a flint, stone, or steel.
Rub the steel with the char cloth or birch when you have gathered these materials. Sparks will be produced from the steel and cause glowing on the birch or char cloth.
Hold the fabric on the tinder nest, and blow it gently to start a flame. This method is one of the primitive ways of starting a fire.
This is still very useful and applicable, especially in the wild.
Fire from lens
Using a lens is also easy to make fire without a match.
Any boy who knows how to melt green plastic army men knows how to do this. However, this method will work only when the sun is up.
You can't use this method and make fire if it's nighttime. You will only need a magnifying glass to do this.
You can use a magnifying lens, binocular lens, or eyeglasses to create a fire.
Adding water to the lenses can intensify the beam.
The first thing to do is to put the lens toward the sun's heat.
Next, put the tinder nest, dry leaves, or wool under this spot, and you will see that the lens will start to create a fire.
Fire From Unconventional Materials
Balloons, Condoms, and Plastic
If you don't have a magnifying lens, you can still build a fire using balloons or condoms. These materials have both shorter focal lengths versus magnifying lenses.
To do this, inflate and fill the balloon or condom with water and tie it at the end.
Then, squeeze it to create a shape with a circle of light. Squeezing it will create two small lenses in the middle.
Ensure you inflate it evenly, and just ensure the size is right.
You can also create a fire using a water bottle or plastic with water and a piece of paper with dark prints.
To do this, fill the water bottle with water. Make sure that the water is crystal clear.
Then, place it in the sunlight and ensure it strikes the water, just like you do in magnifying glasses.
Put the paper with a dark print underneath the water bottle, and you'll see that a circle will form.
Add more layers of paper until it creates an ember. Blow it gently, and it will gradually produce a fire.
Another method is to use a tin can, chocolate, and toothpaste.
Polish the bottom of the tin can with chocolate or toothpaste, and it will shine like a parabolic mirror afterward.
As soon as the sun's rays strike the tin can, it becomes a focal point. This will then form a flame on your nest.
Steel wool, gum wrappers, and batteries
You can make a fire by chance if you have steel wool, gum wrappers, and batteries in the wild.
Rub the battery on the steel wool or gum wrapper; the friction will cause the wool to spark and glow. Blow it gently until it produces flames.
Transfer the embers created at the wool in the nest of leaves.
A flashlight can be used as well to build a fire.
Remove the cap of the flashlight and take the silver cup from it.
Place the silver cup directly from the sunlight and put dry leaves, tinder nests, or other light materials beneath it.
Embers will start to appear and blow it gently.
You can still use an empty lighter to build a fire.
To do this, slowly grind the lighter's wheel on paper for about 2 minutes.
The friction will create embers on it.
Put dry leaves or tinder nests underneath until you see flames building gradually.
Fire from ice
Contrary to common belief, building some flames is possible even in wintertime.
You can do this by using a piece of ice. It must be noted that the ice should be crystal clear. You can create ice by putting water in a plastic bag and putting it in a cold environment.
Next, form the ice into a lens or sphere shape. Make sure it is thick in the middle and narrow at the edges, like a magnifying lens.
Use your hands to form this, and be careful not to break it since the ice is vulnerable.
Then, angle the lens created from ice toward the sun just like how you do it using ordinary lenses.
Focus the light on the nest or dry leaves, and you will create embers.
Blow it gently until you create flames.
Tips on building fire
Apart from the techniques mentioned above and the materials to be used, orient yourselves with these tips to build a fire in the wild successfully.
Building a fire during winter is possible if you choose the right spot correctly.
If you wish to create it under the tree, check that the ground has minimal snow, and be aware that the snow on the branches might fall on your place.
You can also build a platform made of dry wood or stone.
When you are outdoors and want to start a fire, even if it has snow, ensure you always have a stack of wood, dry leaves, a tinder nest, and other dry materials to use fuel. It would be best if you kept the flame burning.
That's why you will need huge chunks of wood to survive.
Over time, the wood will turn into charcoal which would be helpful for your survival. It will also be best if your place is near the fire.
When it's raining, building a fire is still doable.
First, pick the right spot. If you are in the wild with no shelter from the heavy rains, you can stay in the cave, under the big tree, beneath the big boulders, or set up a tarp between two trees.
Collect dry leaves, stones, sticks, or wood with you.
Ensure you have enough materials to last on your entire journey.
Lastly, always see that the fire will not get wet from the rain.
Protect it by putting a cover above, such as a tarp, plastic, or branch from the big tree.
1. Never leave before putting out the fire.
Fire may not appear threatening at first, especially when under control, but it can potentially turn terrible and ruin millions of homes and human lives.
Putting off the fire before leaving is always the first rule.
Before adding more water, sprinkle water on the fire and cover it with moist dirt.
You need to be able to prove there isn't even a single piece of burning wood left that could spark a wildfire after you leave by holding the damp ashes in your hand.
You want to be someone other than the one who starts one of the many fires reported worldwide due to human error.
2. Never make use of rocks from riverbeds.
The water in the wet rocks from the riverbeds will expand when heated.
When the water swells and breaks them apart, these rocks could explode on your face and cause significant injury.
The water inside the rocks boils and expands, shattering into tiny fragments.
When using rocks to build a foundation, there is some basic science that you should be aware of—science that you most likely learned in high school.
3. Build a fire away from branches and high slopes.
Build a fire far from overhanging branches, decaying roots, dry grass, leaves, logs, and steep places to reduce the likelihood of the fire spreading.
Even the additional wood you saved needs to be stored far from the fire.
4. Never Leave a campfire unattended.
The slightest breeze can disperse the fire and ignite a wildfire. This is why it's important to prepare everything before lighting the fire.
Putting Out a Fire
A fire can be put out in several ways, such as by removing the fuel and the oxygen or by reducing the temperature. To put out a fire, outside are:
- Different extinguishing techniques are needed for various types of flames. A grease fire could need a dry chemical fire extinguisher, whereas a grass fire might be put out with water.
- Remove any surrounding fuel sources, if you can, to stop the fire from spreading. This can include flammable substances like leaves and branches.
- Eliminating the oxygen supply, which the fire needs to burn, can aid in putting it out. This can be achieved by draping a blanket, tarp, or other non-flammable material over the fire.
- You can put out a tiny fire using water if the fuel is humid or wet and the fire is small. As soon as you add water to a fire, keep doing so until the fire is entirely put out.
- Without water, you can put out the fire with sand or soil. Ensure to catch all the embers and hot places before covering the fire entirely with a thick layer of earth or sand.
When putting out a fire, caution must be used because unattended fires can become dangerous.
Do not attempt to put out the fire yourself if it is too big or out of control. Instead, call for assistance and leave the area as soon as possible.
In sum, building a fire is one of the essential knowledge that we all must know today. It will help you survive in the wild during catastrophes and emergencies.
We will never know what will become of us, so we must always be prepared.
There are various products available now that can help us build a fire.
Although these products are reliable, we may also not have these on our side.
Thus, the best way to survive is to acquire a skill in building a fire without any matches or lighters and memorize it by heart.
The techniques mentioned above are proven and tested by many people.
Flint, sticks, and stones were used by our forefathers millions of years ago, which is still applicable today.
Orienting ourselves to these methods and sharing them with our friends and family will be best.