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Thread: Fires

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    Default Fires

    What is the preferred method of starting fires (matches, lighter, flint, etc.) and what are some general guidelines for building and extinguishing fires including materials to be burned. Having experienced first hand the noxious odor of peeing on a fire I'm assuming this is a no-no. Am I right?

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    Bic lighter an one of those birthday candles you can't blow out. Then fix the fire so it burns to ashes overnight. Check in in the morning. If it's even warm to the touch, pour water over it until the ashes are soaked.

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    Nice small fires are so much easier to control than huge pyromaniac blazes. But you rarely see them on the AT.

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    There is really no need to put out a camp fire at a AT shelter. Someone will come along shortly to build another anyway. You really shouldn't be building one anywhere else (except for a well used campsite with an established fire ring. In that case, have some water to put it out with).
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    Fires can be great, but please DON'T burn any trash in them. Also, I totally disagree wit the idea you should leave a fire burning at shelters when you leave. Leave No Trace and Extinguish ALL fires upon leaving. You don't know if a sudden burst of wind happens and carries embers to nearby leaves, grass and fields or the shelter!







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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
    What is the preferred method of starting fires (matches, lighter, flint, etc.) and what are some general guidelines for building and extinguishing fires including materials to be burned. Having experienced first hand the noxious odor of peeing on a fire I'm assuming this is a no-no. Am I right?
    I always carry a Bic lighter if I use a stove with piezo ignition. If no Piezo ignition (or if I use an alcohol or wood burning stove) I carry at least two lighters. On shorter hikes of less than 3 days I might carry one of the long "picnic lighters". Generally if I have a fire it is only in my Solo wood burning stove.
    I prefer to gather all the wood I will burn before I even lay the fire. I clear away a safe, bare ground, area for the fire - then a hand full of tinder - then a 'teepee" of very thin sticks over the tinder - then a few finger thick sticks over the teepee. I use the Bic to light a small pine branch and use that to light the tinder. Once the small sticks are burning I can add slightly bigger branches. I keep my fires small so they are easy to control and put out.
    I was taught the best way to put out a campfire is to have a pail of water ready. Then splash the water with my hand on the fire until no flame is visible. Then I stir with a trowel or stick and splash on more water until I can put my hand in without getting hot. If you just pour the water on you usually get a big blast of thick smoke. Splashing avoids this problem. I will never walk away or get in my tent with a fire burning. If I am going to be out of sight I put the fire OUT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slosteppin View Post
    Generally if I have a fire it is only in my Solo wood burning stove.
    What kind of wood burning stove do you carry and how much does it weigh?

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    I was skeptical until I saw someone do it, but laying down the big sticks first and then building a small stick fire on top of them and letting it burn down into the big sticks works great and is actually easier to get going.

    Corn chips are not only good for eating, but also for starting fires. There's enough fat in them that they burn surprisingly well. That was another thing I had to try to believe.

    I have yet to see anyone douse a campfire at a AT shelter, though I spit the water I brush my teeth with into the fire pit in the morning and any dump in any excess water I might have on hand and don't want to carry. One should not be so careless at less developed sites.
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    I use fuel tablets to cook, they double as a great fire starter

  10. #10

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    There is a checkered history of fires at shelters, the Riga shelter in CT has scars from that, as does the surrounding forests on that area of AT where several forest fires have started as a result of fire carelessness. Regardless if there may be someone behind you or not, fires should be thought of as a personal possession and extinguished when you are done with them. If nothing else, its irresponsible to leave one burning unattended.

    As a connected issue, there are areas where fires are prohibited, for example CT and MA have fire bans due to problems with them over the years. Honor these bans, they are usually the result of negotiations with public land agencies and/or private landowners to allow the AT passage over their lands.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Corn chips are not only good for eating, but also for starting fires. There's enough fat in them that they burn surprisingly well. That was another thing I had to try to believe.
    One of, if not the, most prolific serial arsonists in history was fond of using the "chips" sections in convenience stores to set fires. He would put a lit cigarette in a matchbook in among the bags and then leave the store. The cigarette ignited the matches, which then ignited the chips. He did the same trick in a home store among foam pillows.

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    cotton swabs soaked in vaseline

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
    Having experienced first hand the noxious odor of peeing on a fire I'm assuming this is a no-no. Am I right?
    Fire pits are my preferred place to urinate.

    Keeps urine out of privies.

    And fire pits are already nasty anyway.
    The trouble I have with campfires are the folks that carry a bottle in one hand and a Bible in the other.
    You never know which one is talking.

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    Vasoline cotton balls or vasoline dryer lint. What about vasoline on dry leaves?

  15. #15

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    Some good attention to a fire bundle and processed material is a quick payoff vs trying to burn the box that your mac n cheese came in. For quick starting a softball size processed cedar shavings works wonders with a good ferro rod and steel. On equal playing field I can start a fire just as quick with a ferro rod as someone with a bic. It takes practice but it is impressive around a shelter or campsite, makes for good teaching and conversation material.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    Regardless if there may be someone behind you or not, fires should be thought of as a personal possession and extinguished when you are done with them. If nothing else, its irresponsible to leave one burning unattended.
    You shouldn't leave an active fire unattended. In most AT fire pits by morning all the wood is gone and there are just some embers left under the ashes which is why few people even think about the fire pit when they leave in the morning. When properly contained in a rock walled fire pit, these pose little danger.

    Some people like to build the fire back up in the morning and in that case, they need to let it burn out or douse it before leaving.
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    The "cigarette and matchbook" trick was popular during WWII - the Resistance fighters used this one to start fires because it would give them time to get away from the scene and establish an alibi for their whereabouts (of course, many times the SS would just round up locals and shoot them as a warning). Pocket link from your jeans burns surprisingly well - and long - and I usually have some of it at the bottoms of my pockets!
    Quote Originally Posted by Woodturner View Post
    One of, if not the, most prolific serial arsonists in history was fond of using the "chips" sections in convenience stores to set fires. He would put a lit cigarette in a matchbook in among the bags and then leave the store. The cigarette ignited the matches, which then ignited the chips. He did the same trick in a home store among foam pillows.
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