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The Basics of Starting a Fire With Wood

A significant turning point in human history was discovering how to create and control fire. Humanity was able to live in colder climates, defend itself from predators, and eat various foods by building campfires and cooking over them. Even in modern times, starting a fire is necessary for outdoor survival. We also enjoy spending time together by a campfire. You may be wondering how to start a fire with wood. You should take into account the following when learning how to start a fire:


Knowing how to start a fire with tinder and wood is vital to your survival when you’re in the woods. The definition of tinder is anything that glows when a spark strikes it. The next step is to find a match or lighter and strike the kindling.

The best tinder is sawdust, and tinder can be made from almost any dry plant material. Cotton fabric or natural twine, or rope can also be used. These materials can easily ignite and keep the fire going for five minutes. When you use the best tinder, you can be assured that your fire will be successful.

The best tinder is a thin, course bundle of material about the size of a toothpick. Other good tinder sources include birch bark, fatwood, dried moss, and shredded paper. Depending on your location, you might also have access to dead tree branches or twigs. In these cases, you can use a bit of petroleum jelly to make the tinder more flammable.


One of the most basic techniques for starting a fire with wood is to use kindling. Kindling is made of wood that has low moisture content. It allows the fire to burn hot and fast. Ideally, kindling should be 20 percent or less in moisture content. You can use a moisture meter to determine this. It’s important to start a fire with sufficient kindling, or it will go out before you can get the logs alight.

A fire can be started using a handful of kindling or a larger piece of wood called tinder. Wood with paraffin wax coatings is particularly useful for fire starters. The wax helps dry damp wood, increasing its ability to sustain the fire.

Un-Split Logs

First, start by ensuring that your firewood is well-seasoned. Usually, this means that it has been dry for at least six months. If you do not have enough seasoned wood, chop and split the logs you plan to use. It will give them a better burning ability.

Splitting logs can be tricky, especially when the wood is tall or thick with large knots or twisted grain. To make splitting logs easier, try aiming for the edges. You can use a chisel with a sharp edge for splitting.

Next, prepare your fire. You need two large split logs. One should be placed on a piece of paper and the other on top. Make sure there is no space between them. Keep ventilation in mind, as this will help with oxygen delivery.

Lean-To Fire

Lean-to-fires are a great option if you live in a damp or windy location. First, you’ll need to build a windbreak around your log to prevent it from blowing away. Then, start your lean-to-fire by laying smaller pieces of wood on top of the log to act as kindling. Once the kindling burns down, add larger sticks to the lean-to fire.

When building a lean-to-fire, you will need a large piece of kindling and tinder. You will need two or three bunches of tinder and one large log. Once the kindling is stacked against the log, use a lighter or a match to light them. The tinder will burn in a little while, but don’t worry, it won’t burn very long. 


Starting a crossfire with wood can be as simple as stacking two thick pieces of wood across one another. It creates a stable base for the fire and also acts as an airflow barrier. Next, add three larger pieces of wood tinder on top of the two thick pieces of wood. As you stack the woods, turn them 90 degrees on each layer. It creates a crisscross fire that has hot coals burning downward.

To build a crossfire, start with a small pile of tinder, kindling, or tinder wood. Arrange the pieces in a crisscross pattern, leaving gaps between the pieces to allow air to feed the fire. When the fire is burning, add logs to the fire, if necessary.