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QUESTION

When trying to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together, what does one need to consider? I am assuming I can't just grab any two sticks and start rubbing...

{ asked by LBell }

ANSWER

There are many, many ways to make a fire. Some require more skill, while others depend on carefully prepared equipment.

enter image description here The closest thing to "rubbing two sticks together" is the hand-drill. You will need a fireboard (a small cedar board is good) and a thin, straight stick. A knife is good, too. This takes a lot of practice. Hand callouses help. YouTube has many videos: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hand+drill+fire

enter image description here Even further on the skill end of the scale is the fire plow. Basically you push a stick along a groove in a board. I've heard that native people of the Pacific Northwest would walk up to a cedar tree, cut groove in the side of the tree, and plow up a coal right there. Again, see YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=fire%20plow

Successful friction fires requires both good equipment and good technique. If you are just starting out, and you won't know if your failures are caused by equipment or technique. This can make learning very difficult. One fix is to buy a good set from an expert. Learn to make fires with it, then make your own kit.

Making any fire requires multiple skills, which you apply in a sequence. A friction method will produce a tiny coal. Once you've mastered that, you still need to be able to make the coal in to a flame (with tinder). Once your tinder is going, you need to light the kindling. Usually you'll add progressively larger fuel to grow the fire for your purposes. Then you need to know how to put the fire out safely.

Each of these stages is its own set of skills to learn. Each is contextual (type of wood available, season, weather, etc.).

Wet weather is especially challenging, so start learning when it's not raining. However, watch out for your dry season, when runaway fires are particularly risky. Check with your fire department for burn bans.

There is no mastery of fire-making. Sometimes, when you're sure that you're doing everything right, you still can't get a good fire going. Consider it a spiritual practice.

{ answered by Jay Bazuzi }
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