The Pros and Cons of a Fire

Discussion in 'All Resources About Fire' started by TheSurvivalEnthusiast, Apr 26, 2016.

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  1. TheSurvivalEnthusiast

    TheSurvivalEnthusiast Member
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    In a survival situation having a fire is something that many people think is a necessity. You must consider however there are pros and cons when it comes to a survival situation and a fire. In order to determine whether a fire is needed or a benefit, it is best to evaluate your situation and look at the element of your environment. Sorting out the pros and cons of having a fire will help you in deciding whether or not it is necessary to build one. Obviously, there are some basic benefits.

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    One of the basic benefits that comes from having fire is security. When people light a fire, it gives them a sense of purpose as well as a sense of security. Fires can be used for everything from cooking to staying warm, and they also offer entertainment value. Having a good fire going can also help to keep away wildlife as well as insects.

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    Some of the cons or downsides to having a fire is it leaves a visible trail of smoke. In some situations, you may not want people to know where you are, and this would be where a fire is not a good idea. Not only can people see a fire but a fire can often be smelt for quite a distance away. The combination of sight and smell can not only lead people to you it can also sometimes lead predatorial animals to you as well. Remember if you have a fire to try to stay warm chances are something else in nature will also try to cuddle up beside the fire with you. Stay vigilant and you will know what is right and wrong and when as well as where a fire is called for.
     
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  2. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    Good post.
     
  3. TexDanm

    TexDanm Master Survivalist
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    One thing that you have to realize is that if the power grid goes down fire will become a necessity for everyone pretty fast. You will need it for warmth, Light, cooking and boiling your drinking water. In that situation smoke will be a very common smell and sight and so a lot less notable than it is now. The smoke and stuff can be minimized in several ways while at the same time using the fuel more efficiently. A rocket stove jumps to mind. It actually burns the smoke and is very efficient. I have a couple of them. One small home made one and one larger commercial one (an Eco Zoom).

    I've spent a lot of nights (Hundreds) in the woods with a fire and have never even heard of an animal being attracted to the fire. Most animals have a natural fear of fire. They are attracted to people and the food we are bad about leaving just laying around and some seem curious. I have had several visitors after the fire burned down or out but never while it was going strong. Once the propane and gasoline are used up people will HAVE to turn to fire to survive. Without it human life as we know it is just not possible.

    With all that said, most people don't really know much about how to make and use fire. We are recreational fire users now and generally build them way to big for practical use. You don't want or need a bond fire to cook or keep you warm. Native Americans made their fire small and got close rather than huge and having to back off from it.

    Not all woods make a lot of smoke and not all are good for cooking. There is a lot more to making and using fire than people know now days. I generally carry several different ways to make fire. the easiest is a "bic" lighter or Zippo, then there are just all sorts of matches. Ferocerium rods with or magnesium on the side, battery and steel wool, Magnifying glass/fensel lens, Flint and steel and the various rubbing two pieces of wood together. Once you get past the lighters and matches there is a certain learning curve that varies from method to method. I'm good with all of these ways except for the rubbing wood together. I was raised in the swamp country of south East Texas and to tell you the truth the woods available there are not conductive to this method. If I'm going to carry the board, bow and drill to make the fire I'd rather carry easier methods and leave that stuff at home. Flint and steel works well IF you have the right materials on hand. Without some char cloth flint and steel is a tough go.

    With a little preparation making a fire and using it as a proper tool shouldn't be a big or hard problem. Like most things it is all a matter of being prepared with both the materials and more importantly the knowledge needed.
     
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  4. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    I agree with some of this Tex, I don't see that carrying a gas stove or any type of stove is a viable option when bugging out, there are more important things to be carrying. As far as flint & steel fire lighting goes, you need to do more research on this. Charred cloth is not a good option, & you don't need it. Flint & steel is a good sustainable method of making fire, especially in a long term wilderness living situation.
    Keith.
     
  5. TexDanm

    TexDanm Master Survivalist
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    For the short term I have a couple of tiny gas stoves and alcohol stoves that weigh almost nothing. Char cloth is the old traditional method used as an intermediary to carry the spark to the tender. It works great, is dirt cheap and easy to make. If you've never used it you can't imagine how flammable it is. I generally also include jute in my kits and place the char cloth into a nest of this to blow it into flame. All kidding aside a ferocerium rod is my usual companion on every trip. That will work with either jute or even a sheet of toilet paper. I've done it both ways too many times to count. I did the research on the old flint and steel decades ago. LOL, I was a boy scout and got the badge. The hardest part is getting the perfect temper on the steel so it will throw large hard sparks.
     
  6. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    The tinder IS the charred cloth, this catches the spark so that once the kindling is put in contact with the tinder you can blow it into flame. However, charred cloth was only used in the homes, & it was often old used tow rag. Charred cloth is not a sustainable tinder in a wilderness situation, you need to use plant tinders.
    Keith
     
  7. TexDanm

    TexDanm Master Survivalist
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    You can make "char cloth" out of most any organic fiber. All it is something that you have dried out so that it will hold and nourish the spark. I also make char rope and such. Striking a spark into tinder just is hard to do. There are actually several natural replacements for it several fungus growths work well as do various inner woods from dead branches. Rather than depend on finding this I carry char cloth and a small Altoids can for making more if needed. Any old pair of jeans will make a huge supply.

    I've never really thought about char cloth as tinder because you can blow on it forever and it is unlikely to burst into flame. I always use it as a carrier and like to use unraveled jute to make a nest that is where the ember is blown into flame. When you blow on the char cloth the red ember just spreads until the piece is totally burned up. Technically you're right about the char cloth being tinder I just never used it that way. My way is faster surer and requires only a small bit of char cloth per fire. .

    PS I like it here. People are nice and like to share information. I'm reading right now and post as I find things that I know about. Thanks for your responses.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2016
  8. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    You need to ditch the term "charcloth" Tex, it is just a modern term for charred cloth, which IS tinder. Striking sparks onto KINDLING is hard to do. I very respectfully suggest you watch the video mate, far easier than me explaining it here. Some plant tinders, especially in the US can be used without charring, there is even one here that will do that, but it is still vastly improved by being charred first.
    Keith.
    “ takes fire readily from the spark of a steel: but it is much improved by being kept dry in a bag that has contained gunpowder.”

    Samuel Hearne, Northern Canada, 1772
     
  9. TexDanm

    TexDanm Master Survivalist
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    Really, we are going to debate the words that are used to describe this stuff. Where I come from it's just char cloth. I suspect most people can figure out what it is. Google it even. Seriously google CHAR CLOTH. They even sell it on Amazon under that name. I watched the video...even more important I've built a lot of fires with all manner of devices even a fire piston. Let us not waste our time debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. The entire point is that you CAN make fire with a properly tempered piece of steel and a piece of flint. I like to use char cloth as an intermediate stage you don't...so what?
     
  10. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    I only tried to help Tex, I know that these terms are confusing to beginners & I assumed, like me, that you were prepared to learn more than you already know. My mistake, * I sincerely apologise. It will not happen again.
    Keith.
     
  11. TexDanm

    TexDanm Master Survivalist
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    Learn then, look up chared cloth on google...it takes you to char cloth. The correct term is char cloth. I'm so far from a beginner that it isn't even in sight any more. I am always interested in learning but this is silly. Have you ever use flint and steel. I have many times. I also do civil war reenactment and use period equipment. I don't know how old you are but I built my first fire with flint and steel over 50 years ago. I've lived in the woods for 14 days without food twice and can build a fire with nearly nothing. This is not from watching videos, it is from doing it and learning from people that were doing it to teach me. Sorry for wasting your time.
     
  12. Homanda Range

    Homanda Range New Member
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    When I clicked on your post, I thought you were going to detail the pros and cons of a wildfire. This is of great interest to me, as my better half and I live in fire country -- and while we do not welcome wildfires, we recognize the benefits (e.g., clearing out the dry underbrush in a natural way; ensuring that the vegetation burned this year will not burn next year, etc.).

    I was a bit disappointed when I understood that that was not the subject at all -- but, after reading your post, I must give it a thumbs-up. My better half and I are ready and able to rely on fire, and fire alone, should the worst come.

    Our neighbors are, as well; our only complaint is one neighbor who burns a fire, in what appears to be a barrel, every weekend night during the summer, with little concern about the possibility of their fire getting out of control.

    We haven't bothered this neighbor with our concerns (yet), as we believe that we should let all of our neighbors alone.

    Sometimes, it is very difficult to "live and let live," even when we're not quite sure that our neighbors are as conscientious as we are about fire.
     
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  13. Lisa Davis

    Lisa Davis Active Member
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    Fires always have more benefits than disadvantages. Really, the only true disadvantage is the smoke if you are trying to hide from others. Also, some people claim that animals are attracted by fires, but I honestly have never seen this. They may be attracted by the scent of cooking food, but not the fire itself. I think it is always best to keep your fire small though. First, small fires take less wood or material to maintain. Second, you run less of a risk of being seen or the fire getting out of hand. Finally, it leaves the smallest possible imprint or damage to the surroundings of where you are at.
     
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  14. meganisonfire

    meganisonfire New Member
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    I think that fire is very important in the survival of our civilization. I am glad that I came across this post because reading the other poster's responses has educated me on names of materials used to start a good fire. One time I tried to make a fire out of basic flint rock and was completely unsuccessful. I assume it takes some skill and practice before a person can just make a fire happen. My friend tried to do the same and it took him 45 minutes of constantly knocking the stones together before he made a fire happen. I wish there was an easier way but if you do not have an easier method then this has to do.
     
  15. Arkane

    Arkane Master Survivalist
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    Making fire is so importand you should have many different proven by you means to start it!
    No point carrying flint and steel if YOU cant make it happen!
     
  16. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    A lot easier to make & use a fire-bow than trying to make fire with a couple of rocks.
    Keith.
     
  17. Corzhens

    Corzhens Master Survivalist
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    In times of war, I agree that fire poses a risk because it is an indication of your presence and the enemies might easily spot you. Second World War veterans say that they only make fire when it it past midnight and when there is no moon because it would reveal their position and snipers may track them down.

    But if there is no war and the dire situation is caused by a calamity or a disaster then fire is a necessity particularly at night. Especially when you are in the wilderness, wild animals may approach you at night and the fire is your first line of defense. As I had seen in the movies, those lost in the forest make fire to prevent bear or cougar from harming them. When there is fire, wild animals are stymied somehow.
     
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  18. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    There is always the risk of detection when you use fire for cooking, warmth or protection from predatory animals, you have to decide, given your situation, which is the best choice. Fire or no fire. If it is for warmth, you can dig a bed area out of the ground, make a fire in it, get it going well, then cover it with the earth you dug out & lie on top of it. Using this method means that you only have a fire going for a certain length of time, but the warmth remains during the cold night.
    When I make a fire for warmth & cooking I first dig a hole in the ground. Then I surround this hole with large rocks or stacked smaller rocks on three sides, leaving the side facing my shelter open. I leave some small distance between the rocks & the fire hole so that I can bank up the earth which I dug out. This stops any water from rain from flowing into my fire hole. Being in a hole allows me enough depth to use more wood without it being too large above ground. With the hole & the rocks my fire is a little harder to see that otherwise.
    The world is a dangerous place, & the most dangerous predatory animal is the human animal. ALWAYS remember this, even when camping in a non "survival" situation. I recommend that you ALWAYS carry a gun with you when out bush.
    Keith.
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  19. remnant

    remnant Expert Member
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    When the early man invented fire, it was because of its necessity which is the mother of invention. The best way to avoid lighting a fire is to have ready made and preserved food as other issues like heating can easily be handled by warm clothing. The environment also plays a role and one should be careful not to light an uncontrollable fire which can pose an additional danger. A good method of heating without a fire is to bury the embers in wood ash and they can last for a few days in this condition. Insert a piece of iron sheet and it will radiate heat in your hamlet.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2016
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  20. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    I don't believe that early man invented fire from a need, I think they may have found cooked meat from natural fires perhaps caused by lightening. Making fire originally was probably brought about by someone knapping flint tools next to a fireplace that contained charred plant tinders. A spark from the siliceous rocks caught on the tinder material & produced an ember. Friction methods may well have been brought about by drilling or shaping wood by rubbing, or even perhaps from seeing smoke produced from trees rubbing together in the wind, who knows. That is just guesswork on my part.
    Once discovered though they would have seen the benefits of being able to produce fire in times when a fire had been extinguished. Carrying fire was probably the earliest method used to make other individual fires at will. Cooking meat made it easier for old people to eat their food, so then people started to live longer.
    Keith.
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  21. Lakeisha Brown

    Lakeisha Brown New Member
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    This was a very informative post. I appreciate all the valuable opinions on this topic. Personally, I think a fire is very important especially in cold weather but also for cooking meat.
     
  22. tb65

    tb65 Active Member
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    I always wondered if fire does keep predators away. When I look at survival shows they always say that starting a fire would keep away predators or animals they don't want near there camp. The thing is I never see these people get attacked by animals when they have a fire lit. I guess unless I have experienced this for myself I wouldn't know if fire keeps away predators or not, having a gun is really the best security in this situation in my opinion.
     
  23. Lakeisha Brown

    Lakeisha Brown New Member
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    I learn something new every day on this forum. I had no idea that a fire could potentially keep predators away. I also think a fire can draw unwanted attention as well.
     
  24. remnant

    remnant Expert Member
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    Scaring predators is one of the benefits the early man experienced when he discovered fire other than cooking to soften food and to warm himself. Predators are scared of fire or anything that emits strong light. So a flashlight would scare predators too especially when aimed at the eyes. But fire is also a bad master and one should light it under controlled conditions to prevent creating a greater danger of a voracious bushfire.
     
  25. Rere

    Rere New Member
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    I think that fire is very important in the survival of our civilization. I am glad that I came across this post because reading the other poster's responses has educated me on names of materials used to start a good fire. One time I tried to make a fire out of basic flint rock and was completely unsuccessful. I assume it takes some skill and practice before a person can just make a fire happen. My friend tried to do the same and it took him 45 minutes of constantly knocking the stones together before he made a fire happen. I wish there was an easier way but if you do not have an easier method then this has to do.
     
  26. TexDanm

    TexDanm Master Survivalist
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    The thing about beating two rocks together is that if you don't have the right rocks it just isn't going to happen for you. Even when you have the right rocks it is a real beast and your tinder has to be fluffy and dry as heck. When doing it with flint and steel it is the carbon in the steel that holds the heat as it is rubbed/cut off the striker. Without that you have sparks that only last for tiny parts of a second. Generally you might be better off moving to some form of rubbing two pieces of wood together.

    Another problem with clacking rocks together in a survival situation is if you don't wear glasses BEWARE. Having something hit you in the eye can ruin your chances of surviving in a hurry. Because of my various professions I've had stuff dug out of my eyes twice and I assure you, you don't want to be out in the woods with one eye and the other hurting like nothing that you have ever felt before. The EYE has little to no feeling but the back of your eye lid doesn't like being scratched by something embedded in your eye.
     
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