Building a Fire

Know How to Build a Fire

It Could Save Your Life Fires are critical to surviving a winter night. Practice building a fire often when you go snowmobiling, so you learn what works best in different weather conditions. When you are freezing is not a good time to learn how to build a fire. You should be able to get a fire going quickly even during a storm; your life could depend on this skill.


There are three sizes of fuel needed to start and maintain a fire, these are:


TINDER- anything that will flame from a spark i.e., newspaper, Kleenex, inner shredded bark from a tree, fibers from a bird nest, dried grass, fine wood shavings, etc. All tinder must be DRY. The dead pine needles from a fir tree work well to place on top of the tinder as they catch fire quickly.


KINDLING- small sticks used to feed the flames from the tinder, from matchstick size to the size of your finger. Use kindling until you get a bed of coals before you start adding larger or wet fuel. Soft woods such as aspen will burn fast to get a good bed of coals.


FUEL- larger sticks which take longer to burn through. Hardwoods such as oak will burn the longest and give more heat than softwoods, however any dry fuel will do. With a good bed of coals, wet fuel can be dried enough to catch fire. Collect all three sizes of wood before you light your fire.


Once you have a good bed of coals you can leave your fire for a short time to collect more fuel. Keeping your fire small will conserve wood and your energy, and enables you to use wood of a manageable size to break up. If you have to build a fire on top of the snow, cut some green logs and stack them side by side to resemble a raft for a fire platform. Build your fire on top of the platform to keep it from melting down to the ground.


A quick fire for roasting hotdogs for lunch would not need to be built on a platform. In some outings, the fire becomes the center point for the group. It is acceptable to cut down dead trees and build a fire on the raw snow. As the fire burns down, you can actually over time build your own snow wall by stomping down the corners of the fire. You can have snow benches, and make it a center meeting point for the larger group to break into smaller groups. Over the course of the day, the snow close to the fire can be cut out in hard blocks to help build the wall higher giving you a warm place to hang out, good practice for fires and building shelters. The fire will burn to the ground over time, but you will also cut out ice blocks with your saw and build a snow wall. Over time it will look like a roman theater, and provide a very nice shelter.