Fire In The Rain

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by B Griffin, Dec 1, 2019.

  1. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Some of these images are parts of a couple of larger projects, some of them are illustrations for talking points during my lectures in an adult forest class I conduct here locally. But I thought I'd share this part of it here to share some knowledge going into the cold wet season. The accelerant used here is obviously pitch-pine or fatwood, but the technique and philosophy will apply just as well to highly flammable chemical accelerants.

    Yes, it is really raining. No it's not a pouring rain. It is a light rain in which I was out in the open for ease of documenting for other purposes. But it is something I have done in somewhat harder autumn rains, at the bases of large trees in dense evergreen thickets, on hunting and trapping trips in the 70s and 80s (pre-weather apps on cell phones) in order to avoid hypothermia while caught out in cold rains unexpectedly.
    [​IMG]

    Had I not been taking the time to document this, as well as the time to explain the process to a game warden fiend in the area who stopped in to talk when he saw my truck, the dry side of the bark I was collecting here would have stayed dry longer. But it all still worked out in the end. It just illustrates that you work more with purpose than with speed to accomplish this task.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Had I worked faster, not tried to document it alone, and had the rains not gotten heavier at times, I could have probably started this fire with the ferro rod and the PJCB in the handle. In fact since I had it I did play around with it, even though that wasn't the plan. But both ferro rods and PJCBs can get too drenched to function when it is actually raining at the time you need a fire.

    [​IMG]

    The plan to start with was to use the same type of lighter my father had taught me firecraft in this rain forest with to begin with back in the early 70s, a Zippo. I still edc a Zippo to this day for several reasons. One in that the sparking wheel and wick are covered by a protective lid. So they stay dry enough to function even in a wet pocket in the rain. Unless damaged, overfilled, or somehow left open in the pocket, they almost never lose an entire tank of fuel unless being burned. And they can be ignited and left free-standing under wet tinder to light an emergency fire in wet conditions if necessary. I have had multiple Bics drain themselves in pants pockets just from the buttons being depressed through movement from stooping, bending, squatting, and climbing etc., and be empty and useless when it was time to start the fire to warm cold wet hands or cold wet feet. I do also carry a small Bic in a kit, and a match safe full of storm proof matches as well in the winter. I've had sever frostbite once before, so I like redundant systems.
    [​IMG]

    The Zippo works well in wet conditions, and the thin slivers of resin-rich pitchwood ignite easily in wet conditions. If you look closely at the first image you can see the impact of a small rain drop that landed at the edge of the flame as I was shooting this image, and the sliver kept right on burning and evaporated it away.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The idea is to cover the burning pitch wood, which is volatile and burns very hot, with the fuel wood in such a way that there is a little air space above the flames and between the pieces of fuel. This way the smaller fire is protected from direct hits from falling rain, but isn't suffocated in the process, and the heat is vectored through the wet fuel to dry and then ignite it. Looking at the images, you can see the amount of moisture being removed from the fuel in the form of steam.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Because the process was being documented, and because I was working alone to do it and working methodically, 2 hours and 13 minutes elapsed between the first image in this post and the last one. The rain slowed to a slight drizzle twice, but it never stopped completely, and escalated to deluge levels a couple of times during the process.

    The pine knots happen to be plentiful here in this temperate rain forest, and I see them as one of natures gifts to this environment. So I usually grab a couple of small ones when I see them on a hike, if I don't already have one or two in my pack. I like the knots because they are packed with plenty of resinous firestarting goodness, but have a patina on the outside so they can just be stored lose in my pack without getting the resin all over anything.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2019
  2. MolokaiRider

    MolokaiRider Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 13, 2017
    Excellent write up! Thanks for sharing your experience.
     
    buckfynn and B Griffin like this.
  3. WILLIAM.M

    WILLIAM.M Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 14, 2006
    And another outstanding post my brother!!!
     
    B Griffin likes this.
  4. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thanks man, glad you liked it! :)

    Thank you brother Bill, I'm glad you enjoyed the post! :)
     
    WILLIAM.M likes this.
  5. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    I'm surprised none of my old friends here are busting me over my becoming more fond of the Scandinavian grind than I was years ago, and started a conversation about that lol
     
  6. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I ruined one of my DSLR cameras a couple weeks ago in the rain. Got to pay attention to the rain. Enjoyed your write up and photos.
     
    B Griffin and WILLIAM.M like this.
  7. tiguy7

    tiguy7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 25, 2008
    image.jpeg Good write up. 2 things come to mind. 1: Zippo makes an Aluminum refill can which could be used to dribble a little accelerant on the tinder. 2: Exotac makes a Bic lighter case which is waterproof and has a loop which can hold the trigger down. The upper holder in the picture glows in the dark.
     
  8. JV3

    JV3

    Mar 17, 2010
    good stuff, brian!

    i knew something was weird just couldn't put my finger on it. i think this is the first time i've seen you with a scandi knife.
     
    B Griffin likes this.
  9. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thanks man, I'm glad you enjoyed it :) I tend to use the heavier bodied DSLRs with the magnesium alloy chassis that are water resistant in Nikon's prosumer series like the D90 and D7000 for some of my photography, but compared to the all plastic bodied the D3000 I started with years ago they can get heavy fast out in the field. Thank goodness for the advancements in camera phone technology. These days I only use the DSLRs for artwork on my website I print out at large sizes for commercial venues, or when I need illustration images to support printed articles for publishers who still want and need 300dpi resolution. These images were taken with my phone, because for illustrations for my internet works, forum posts, and projected or large monitor slide shows for my lectures the the phone does wonderfully even at 90dpi, and it is easier to protect under a rain coat when working in the rain. I am looking into the new mirrorless options for more of a middle ground approach with some of my work.

    Thanks man, and thank you for reminding me I need to get one of those Zippo tanks. I keep forgetting... The recent divorce and custody case, and the effects of the gaslight situation that had led up to it over the last several years, had my head so confused and distracted that I am just now getting it back in decent working order lol. I do like the fire sleeves a good bit, I have since Rob put them out and they are about the only way I will put a Bic in a pack or in my pocket to depend on long term away from a way to quickly replace the lighter. I think my ex took the ones I had with her as I haven't seen them lately, I need to order a few more.

    Thanks Jay!! Not quite the first. The first one was a small Fiddleback Hiking Buddy from Blade almost 10 years ago. I learned I didn't like the scandi grind so much on that size and style of knife. Then later I had a couple other in bigger knives like this, but in thicker steels like 5/32 and 3/16, and learned I really didn't care for the scandi grind in 5/32 and saw the scandi grind in 3/16 as being just silly and pointless for my uses, because the thicker the steel the higher I want the grind for better cutting. But none of them got much play in my older forum posts here then years ago. Then I mostly just stayed away from them for years. It was in playing with LT's Genesis at Blade this past year, and maybe that I had gotten older and more experienced, that I realized I like this knife very much overall and am apparently fine with the scandi grind in knives of this size with 1/8 thick blades for their having more meat in the blade and more strength in some of the applications I use them. Such as prying off the bark for the fire base like I did in this post.
     
    JV3 and Codger_64 like this.
  10. tek77

    tek77 Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 9, 2009
    pics are gone
     
    B Griffin likes this.
  11. SpyderPhreak

    SpyderPhreak Rocketman for hire Platinum Member

    Apr 13, 2004
    PB appears to be having issues today.
     
    B Griffin likes this.
  12. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Yes, the pics are back for the moment. At least i see them now. Photobucket had a server messed up this time, and told me my images were "safe". But they've had several issues...including insane pricing for a year after new the ownership 2 or 3 yrs ago, and they keep having other issues. So I started a Fotki account and I am switching my essential images to Fotki so a lot of my old threads will eventually have no pics in them. The images in this thread have been switched to Fotki though. Some of the others may end up being an excuse to revisit some of those subjects from a 13 years later perspective...
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2019
    bikerector, JV3 and tek77 like this.
  13. Mikel_24

    Mikel_24

    Sep 19, 2007
    Great pictures and good explanation. I must say all I carry on my or my pack is one or several knives and one or two bic ligthers. No tinder at all. Maybe it is time to start packing a few more items.

    There was a time where I used to carry BBQ starting tablets (carefully packed in a ziploc like baggie) and later on some solid fuel (think ESBIT). What is the general thought about these items? I mean, I have used fatwood in the past and I enjoy the gathering and yada yada yada but... wouldn't it be more convenient to carry some solid fuel tablets for that rare situation you might need it?

    Mikel
     
  14. milesofalaska

    milesofalaska Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    382
    Dec 4, 2010
    Saw the pictures fine- great to see and better understand. Yes, came to the same methods on my own to protect the small starter fire from rain wind etc. In my youth I was more 'subsistence' a homesteader, living on only what I could provide. A dollar was a lot of money. Plus living remote, no electric etc. So my fire starting methods were inexpensive. I liked most, strips of rubber inner tube, and or a vial of waste engine oil, both are 'free.' Both will get about anything to burn. I share this in case anyone is in a similar situation, no dollars got to use what is on hand. Or a more 'natural' method was to save good stuff along my trip like pieces of pitch, or oily birch bark. Or, I now carry a tin can stove I make from a #10 can or smaller soup can. I keep kindling in it, start a quick fire and it is in a 'stove' I can cook on, use for warmth is a dome tent. I use a 1 in diameter steel flex hose as the chimney. (that you run electric wire in) a foot or two long, and a one inch hole in the side of the small tent (with tin can stove jack so as not to melt the tent) The tine can stove warms the tent and cooks a meal. Much much less fuel required to survive, dry clothes out, sleep, stuff like that. I used to run a 200 miles trapline with sled dogs, living off the land at down to 60 below zero. I could stop, get a quick fire in the can stove, wrap my coat around the stove to warm my entire body in just a few minutes on a break (the sled dogs needed a break as well). When fire is out, I'd load the stove again from nearby stuff, dead grass, bark, etc so next time all I need to do is drop a match in to get it going again. At 60 below that might be just an hour later. Yes my trusty knife the most valuable tool to have with me!
     
    heat_treat likes this.

Share This Page