Fire Making Your techniques for fires in wet weather

lambertiana

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Fatwood and petroleum jelly filled cottonballs for starters. Dead wood that is still on the trees, especially the small branches at the bottom of spruce, pine, or fir, burn well. And when all else fails, there is the option of bringing a road flare. I was on a backpacking trip in the Adirondacks and had conditions similar to yours - steady heavy rain all day, low temperatures. One of the guys pulled out a flare and lit it up. It did a wonderful job of getting a big fire started.
 

Pilsner

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Any thoughts about the idea of simply carrying a mini canister of something like zippo fuel to pour over and ensure a good burn for just long enough to catch on? For example Zippo make a little refill keychain thing. Another idea I've played with is a lip balm stick to smear over the kindling to again give just enough time for the fire to catch properly in adverse conditions. Pair either solution with a storm match and it should be very useful. I also like the idea of the UCO Stormproof Sweetfire Strikeable Firestarters as a good bad weather starter. Their Titan Stormproof matches are quite something, I've used them quite a bit in driving rain.
Aha! Funnily enough, I’ve just acquired a Douglass lighter with a with a small backup reservoir for extra fuel. I would have no compunction in using that to coax some tinder in a pinch. Ultimately, theory is a super thing, but when you are cold and getting steadily colder, it becomes a case of just getting it done!
 
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Fatwood and petroleum jelly filled cottonballs for starters. Dead wood that is still on the trees, especially the small branches at the bottom of spruce, pine, or fir, burn well. And when all else fails, there is the option of bringing a road flare. I was on a backpacking trip in the Adirondacks and had conditions similar to yours - steady heavy rain all day, low temperatures. One of the guys pulled out a flare and lit it up. It did a wonderful job of getting a big fire started.

I carry PJ soaked cotton balls and have never had them fail me (it kinda helps that they are naturally waterproof:))
 

tiguy7

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image.jpeg
Aha! Funnily enough, I’ve just acquired a Douglass lighter with a with a small backup reservoir for extra fuel. I would have no compunction in using that to coax some tinder in a pinch. Ultimately, theory is a super thing, but when you are cold and getting steadily colder, it becomes a case of just getting it done!

Here is a picture of the Zippo Keychain canister as discussed in post 16 above.
 

Houlahound

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Little bit of petrol added to some diesel.

Small cubical solid fuel sources, I think they might be millitary.

Most of my camping is out of a truck these days and I carry a gas cylinder and gas stove....the weather is made irrelevant.
 

Pilsner

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Brilliant contributions - such a range of experience. Many different ways to light a fire in the wet.

Here is a really dirty way. It is soooooo dirty.

‘Ranger band’ AKA inner tube.

Yep. Black, toxic smoke belches forth. It is downright nasty. But.... it works. If in a real fix, and not worried about observation, then Le Why Not?

Filthy, ‘orrible things. Yuck! Erm....
 
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A good sharp blade to make fine shavings with (and lots of 'em). Even wet wood will dry out and burn if you can make shavings like rice paper from it. The key is preparing as much of it as possible BEFORE that first spark happens.
As long as you have a lot to feed it, you can slowly build a nice fire with coals glowing enough to burn bigger and bigger pieces. Of course with wet wood, you may be limited to pieces small enough that the heat can dry the piece quickly enough to burn with flame instead of just smoldering. Annoying for a home firepit, but if you are cold and in the woods, worth it.
 

Airborne 1

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Depends how late in the day and how cold / wet I am. c4 lights like a candle...Rangerbands , yep ...tire off the car if bad enough...Theres a old saying Indian make small fire and stands close...white man make big fire and stand back.
 

Pilsner

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Depends how late in the day and how cold / wet I am. c4 lights like a candle...Rangerbands , yep ...tire off the car if bad enough...Theres a old saying Indian make small fire and stands close...white man make big fire and stand back.
Yes. That is such an important point! I do sometimes wonder what sort of fire people are trying to make?!
 
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I did one where I made a lattice, like a little square box out of wood. And set the fire inside that. Which worked OK.
 
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Found a great disposable/reusable poly-fiber shop towel that’s 10x stronger than paper towels. For me, works as well or better than cotton balls, coffee filters, paper towels, wet wipes, bandannas, and toilet paper, so I’ve replaced all that for UL backpacking and EDC. Also EDC a bottle-cap size jar of Vaseline (another good multitasker) so prefer to wait to combine them when/if needed for fire starting (much cleaner/easier than kneading PJ into CBs).

Another great idea I’ve read from the bushcraft guys is feathering a damp piece of wood to maximize its surface area, then tie a cord to it and twirl in circles for few minutes as a ‘speed air drier.’ As a swimmer, I can vouch this works well for swimsuits, but haven’t tried with a feather stick yet (thanks for the reminder).

...Theres a old saying Indian make small fire and stands close...white man make big fire and stand back.

To take this a step further, you can trap the modest heat from a candle flame in a micro climate underneath a poncho while sitting cross-legged with the candle in the protected triangle of your legs - a technique known in the bushcraft world as a ‘Palmer Furnace.’ I find camp fires to be counter productive in the worst weather conditions (when you really it) - heavy snow fall, strong winds, pouring rain. I’d rather be hunkered inside my poncho/tent, running a Palmer Furnace, while comfortably seated in a ground chair, and watching a movie on a smartphone (ultra -lighter/-tasker that EDC’s a 12L manbag).

Just my $0.02, YMMV and all.
 

Pilsner

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Found a great disposable/reusable poly-fiber shop towel that’s 10x stronger than paper towels. For me, works as well or better than cotton balls, coffee filters, paper towels, wet wipes, bandannas, and toilet paper, so I’ve replaced all that for UL backpacking and EDC. Also EDC a bottle-cap size jar of Vaseline (another good multitasker) so prefer to wait to combine them when/if needed for fire starting (much cleaner/easier than kneading PJ into CBs).

Another great idea I’ve read from the bushcraft guys is feathering a damp piece of wood to maximize its surface area, then tie a cord to it and twirl in circles for few minutes as a ‘speed air drier.’ As a swimmer, I can vouch this works well for swimsuits, but haven’t tried with a feather stick yet (thanks for the reminder).



To take this a step further, you can trap the modest heat from a candle flame in a micro climate underneath a poncho while sitting cross-legged with the candle in the protected triangle of your legs - a technique known in the bushcraft world as a ‘Palmer Furnace.’ I find camp fires to be counter productive in the worst weather conditions (when you really it) - heavy snow fall, strong winds, pouring rain. I’d rather be hunkered inside my poncho/tent, running a Palmer Furnace, while comfortably seated in a ground chair, and watching a movie on a smartphone (ultra -lighter/-tasker that EDC’s a 12L manbag).

Just my $0.02, YMMV and all.
That is very true. A four seasons bag is okay even just in a gore-tex bivvy bag under a tarp. I’ve done that in winter quite a lot. What I learned the hard way is about ground chill, and that it is a total bitch if not planned for! ;)
 
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When making PJ cotton balls, there's no need to knead them (pardon the pun:)) I use old coffee cans of different sizes to make a double boiler and heat the PJ until it is liquid. The cotton balls soak up so much that you'll need to squeeze some of it out as they dry. I store them in old plastic vitamin bottles and pluck them out with pliers & re-pack them into small containers (a plastic match case works great) that will fit in my water bottle kit or pants pocket as needed. This way I get good and messy for an hour or so once every ten years and have a constant supply....
 

MolokaiRider

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Brilliant contributions - such a range of experience. Many different ways to light a fire in the wet.

Here is a really dirty way. It is soooooo dirty.

‘Ranger band’ AKA inner tube.

Yep. Black, toxic smoke belches forth. It is downright nasty. But.... it works. If in a real fix, and not worried about observation, then Le Why Not?

Filthy, ‘orrible things. Yuck! Erm....

I’m glad you mentioned that. Along the coast there is tons of trash that wash up.

Driftwood is salty and wet unless it’s been washed up far enough to dry for a few days above the high tide.

Rubber burns much more readily. It’s easy to make shavings into a pile, then use it as a tinder. Unfortunately there is an abundance of it all over.

In a pinch you work with what you got. Many products produced with petroleum are flammable.

Just don’t breathe it or cook with it.
 
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When making PJ cotton balls, there's no need to knead them (pardon the pun:)).... re-pack them into small containers (a plastic match case works great)....

Assume you are referring to my comment about the kneading mess. You may have misunderstood that my intention is to keep the PJ and wicking material separate (since both have multiple primary uses by themselves), until actually needed to start a fire.

For me, pre-mixing creates a single-purpose item requiring yet another bulky, and/or potentially messy, dedicated container. It’s also just a back-up for me as I prefer practicing, and am usually successful, with using just natural tinders. Lastly, the shop towel wicking material has solved the on-site kneading mess too - can now just use a fingertip to smear PJ, then roll-up and squeeze and the strip of towel is nicely saturated throughout.
 
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I diagonally read through the first page of the thread... and I would like to add my (limited) point of view. No matter whether open fires are allowed or not in the area, a stove is always going to be more efficient for cooking than a fire. Cooking something in a pot, that is, not roasting a whole pig over a bed of coals.

There are stoves that weight 25g (such as this one, which I own, BRS-3000T) that paired with a 100g gas cartridge + the pot that you would be carrying anyway gives you the choice of brewing in the middle of the worst weather Apocalipsis... Even if you don't use it as the main cooking means... you could always use it to boost start your wood bonfire. Not the first choice for melting buckets of snow to get water but for noodles, soups, freeze-dried food is ok.

Even if you plan your outing arround wood fires... 125g is what an Spyderco Endura goes for (more or less). I bet some guys carry more weight in firemaking gadgets such as dry tinder, fatwood, fire straws, solid fuel tablets, etc. I think it pays off...

For me, wood fires are something else to worry about and are, as anyone would expect, a fire hazzard. I don't want my down filled sleeping bag (ultralight synthetic fabric) anywhere near a fire where a stray spark may burn a hole on it. Same goes for fleeze jackets, Scholler fabric pants, Gore-Tex third layers, gloves/mittens, backpacks, etc. In my opinion, to be safe arround fires, you need to go old school and wear cotton, wool or leather. Same for the sleeping setup. Old school gear is much heavier and less efficient (sucks up water, insulates less, more difficult to dry, etc). So for me, I preffer to go synthetic, light and do not rely on fire to keep me warm.

Maybe my needs are completly different than anyone elses here but... fire for me is something to avoid is possible. If something goes really REALLY wrong and I find myself in an emergency situation, you bet your precious that I would be setting the whole forest in fire if required. I get it is a great moral boost but I preffer to do without.

Mikel
 

Hurrul

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Aug 26, 2017
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Brilliant contributions - such a range of experience. Many different ways to light a fire in the wet.

Here is a really dirty way. It is soooooo dirty.

‘Ranger band’ AKA inner tube.

Yep. Black, toxic smoke belches forth. It is downright nasty. But.... it works. If in a real fix, and not worried about observation, then Le Why Not?

Filthy, ‘orrible things. Yuck! Erm....
Something else filthy.....Frito's corn chips will ignite readily when set to flame. If you only had a bag of chips and a lighter, you'd be way better off than if you had a bag of doritos and a lighter...

Something to do with the industrial oils used in making them...
 
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Something else filthy.....Frito's corn chips will ignite readily when set to flame. If you only had a bag of chips and a lighter, you'd be way better off than if you had a bag of doritos and a lighter...

Something to do with the industrial oils used in making them...

Like the corn oils? Don't they modify cars to run on that stuff?
 
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Really enjoy threads like this as they present ideas and options that I may have heard of and have no practical experience with (but others can share theirs), or they present concepts that are so simple yet elicit a "why didn't I think of that?!?!".
Good stuff.
 
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