Getting a fire going is a life-saving step towards survival. It’ll help keep you warm, ward off predators, and light the darkness around you. Staring one on a hot, dry day is pretty simple, but it is possible to start a fire in the rain? As improbable as it sounds, yes.
One of the biggest benefits of being able to do so is having an excellent source of warmth, especially in colder climates where the rain can lower your body temperature considerably. The following article from ScoutingMagazine will help you build a fire in the rain. (All images credit to Steve Sanford).
Don’t expect to be able to do this quickly, but you can build a fire in the rain by following these instructions (even with damp wood).
To begin, you’ll need the following materials:
- sharp knife
- folding saw
- small hatchet
Afterwards you’ll need to begin your search for wood. Your best bet is a downed or dead tree that is out of the way of any trails or water sources. Find a limb about arm thickness and use the folding saw to remove it. Check the sawed-off end (the side you can see the rings) and press the back of your hand or your cheek on it, feeling for wetness. Its fine if there’s a ring of wet wood near the bark, we’ll be removing it later, but find another piece of wood if it smells dank.
Next, saw the limb into sections a foot long, splitting each section to make kindling. Use the hatchet only as a splitting wedge, not as a chopping instrument (prevents accidents).
Image left. Split the wood with two people so that it is safer and much easier. Use two hands when holding the hatchet, and let a friend grab a wood log and knock it all the way through.
Use a lighter log to split kindling with your sharp knife, using the same technique just mentioned.
Next, use your knife to prepare your tinder. You’ll need at least a handful of thin shavings from your dry splittings.
Image right. Now that you’ve reached the dry part of the wood splittings, slice off several thin shavings to use as tinder. Set the sharpened edge of your knife on the end of an upright piece of wood, pounding the spine through with a thick stick. Use either a knife with a fixed blade or a folding knife with a strong, secure lock.
Gather the tinder (a handful of dry wood shavings no thicker than a match), kindling (one-eighth to one-quarter-inch thick dry wood splittings), and fuel (quarter-split logs). Next trim all bark and damp wood from your tinder and kindling, and separate your wood into piles – tinder, kindling, and fuel.
If it is raining while you’re working, set up a tarp so that you and your materials remain dry.
Now that you’ve got your wood gathered and ready, the following list of fire-starter items will help expedite the process.
- a candle and chemical fire-starters
- cotton balls (dipped in Vaseline)
- a flattened wax milk carton
- cigar-size newspaper logs, dipped into melted paraffin make good fire-starters (don’t use loose newspaper pages since they absorb moisture on damp days)
- 6″ piece of aluminum or copper tubing to a piece of rubber hose (to create a “fire blower” as a bellows to help nurse developing flames)
Once you’ve reached this point you’re only 4 steps away!
- Set two 1″-thick sticks about 6 inches apart on the ground (image right). Place four pencil-thin support sticks across the base. Space the support sticks about half an inch apart.
- Stack a 1″-thick layer of thin shavings on top of the support sticks. To allow for airflow, leave some space between each shaving. Set two half-inch thick “bridge” sticks across each end of the base structure to support the heavier kindling you’ll add next.
- Place fine, split kindling across the support sticks. Splittings should be parallel to one another with plenty of space in between. They should not compress the tinder below.
- Apply your match directly underneath the tinder (shavings). When the first flame appears, hand feed shavings (not kindling) into the developing flame. Don’t add kindling until you have a reliable blaze. The raised firebase will produce a powerful draft that creates a bright, smoke-free flame.
And there you have it! You must always carry at least 3 ways to start a fire, and learning to create fire in different situations, under varying circumstances will help you master the skill. Just being able to do this will spike your confidence and boost your morale – a huge factor that plays into survival.