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  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by JPritch View Post
    I'm glad you brought this up! I was at Dolly Sods two weekends ago during the snow. I carried a 2.5# Duraflame log in to assist. We even found a campsite that had a neat stack of freshly cut logs. It had rained the night before. We absolutely could not get the logs to catch fire. The Duraflame burned for a long time under the logs. Made 'em char, glow, and you could see water boiling out...but they wouldn't catch.

    So any tips for actually getting the big fire going before we head out for another winter trip? I'd hate to strap 20# of Duraflame logs to my pack, but will if I have to

    Yeah...I canít figure how in the heck these people get damp wood to burn, are they magic? Iíve tried every tip thatís been suggested (and more, except the esbit and relighting birthday candles, very cool idea). Iíve also been with other hikers with better skills who also couldnít get the wood to burn. Thereís gotta be something more basic that Iím missing in my fire building skills. Are people using more flammable accelerants than hand sanitizer, Fritos, or petroleum jelly?
    Last edited by Traffic Jam; 12-10-2019 at 08:31.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whiskyjo View Post
    I use in my pear can wood cook stove a half of a relighting birthday candle to get it started even in the worst winds. Have used them to start a fire in damp conditions also. 24 per pack cut in half gives you 48 fire starters for about 15 cents a fire. Just saying.
    Them there trick candles work great like you said even in wind. I was gonna suggest wax as well, those scented wax cube things that go in them warmers and make your house smell like gingerbread, I save those there like wax chips and I'll take a baggie with a few of them sometimes.

  3. #23

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    I have some old sterno cans that I was going to toss today. Thought I might pour them into a squirt bottle to use as an accelerant. Is the ethanol likely to evaporate before I get a change to use it? They’re so old, it sounds like pure liquid inside.

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    Yeah...I can’t figure how in the heck these people get damp wood to burn, are they magic? I’ve tried every tip that’s been suggested (and more, except the esbit and relighting birthday candles, very cool idea). I’ve also been with other hikers with better skills who also couldn’t get the wood to burn. There’s gotta be something more basic that I’m missing in my fire building skills. Are people using more flammable accelerants than hand sanitizer, Fritos, or petroleum jelly?
    It's a bit of a catch 22. The only way to get wet wood to burn is to dry it out first, which means you need a fire to begin with.

    If your at a shelter with a fire ring, there is always a lot of little sticks around the front of the shelter. Use these to get the fire started. Damp wood is only damp on the outside. Shaving a bit of the outside off or "feathering" it with your knife will expose the dry part of the stick. (That's one reason why we carry a sturdy knife)

    Try to find tree branches on the ground which aren't actually on the ground. If you can make the branch snap, it's dry. It might be wet or damp on the outside, but is otherwise dry.

    Unless you have a way to split a log, trying to burn anything bigger then a few inches around is futile. If you can't snap it across your knee, it's too big (or too wet/green) to burn.

    In the North East here, White Birch bark makes great fire starter. There never seems to be a White Birch tree near campsites, so I collect pieces during the day along the trail.

    Funny story:

    I did a hike on the Vermont section of the AT a few years ago in the fall. I was paced with a couple of woman who liked to heat up some Spam for dinner, so I got into the habit of making a fire for them each night. One night close to Hanover, I had a small fire going in a light rain.

    A collage ordination group shows up a little before dark and set up a big tarp near-by. A little while latter two young girls (who look like they just stepped out of the mall) come over to the shelter where I'm nursing the fire and ask me "Sir, where can we find dry firewood". Being the wise guy that I can be, I answer "What? You didn't bring any with you?" The expression on their faces was priceless.

    I then tried to explain the wood was only damp on the surface and to find down branches, etc., but they never did get a fire going that night.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #25

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    this is the way I cheat:

    https://www.ucogear.com/behemoth-swe...t-mt--behemoth

    these things are basically lightweight flares, work great!

  6. #26
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    Well said slo, and thanks you just made me spit coffee laughing .

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    It's a bit of a catch 22. The only way to get wet wood to burn is to dry it out first, which means you need a fire to begin with.

    If your at a shelter with a fire ring, there is always a lot of little sticks around the front of the shelter. Use these to get the fire started. Damp wood is only damp on the outside. Shaving a bit of the outside off or "feathering" it with your knife will expose the dry part of the stick. (That's one reason why we carry a sturdy knife)

    Try to find tree branches on the ground which aren't actually on the ground. If you can make the branch snap, it's dry. It might be wet or damp on the outside, but is otherwise dry.

    Unless you have a way to split a log, trying to burn anything bigger then a few inches around is futile. If you can't snap it across your knee, it's too big (or too wet/green) to burn.

    In the North East here, White Birch bark makes great fire starter. There never seems to be a White Birch tree near campsites, so I collect pieces during the day along the trail.

    Funny story:

    I did a hike on the Vermont section of the AT a few years ago in the fall. I was paced with a couple of woman who liked to heat up some Spam for dinner, so I got into the habit of making a fire for them each night. One night close to Hanover, I had a small fire going in a light rain.

    A collage ordination group shows up a little before dark and set up a big tarp near-by. A little while latter two young girls (who look like they just stepped out of the mall) come over to the shelter where I'm nursing the fire and ask me "Sir, where can we find dry firewood". Being the wise guy that I can be, I answer "What? You didn't bring any with you?" The expression on their faces was priceless.

    I then tried to explain the wood was only damp on the surface and to find down branches, etc., but they never did get a fire going that night.
    This works great in most places. But if you're going in area like the dolly sods or a rainforest for a week it can be quit the challenge. We've done the 30 mile loop and we've hiked in 5 miles or so with a tipi sized pack 90lbs , to a hidden gem of a camp along red creek we had for the whole week to ourselves . Only saw 2 people all week . But anyway you can say not have a fire but it's nice to have.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    It's a bit of a catch 22. The only way to get wet wood to burn is to dry it out first, which means you need a fire to begin with.

    If your at a shelter with a fire ring, there is always a lot of little sticks around the front of the shelter. Use these to get the fire started. Damp wood is only damp on the outside. Shaving a bit of the outside off or "feathering" it with your knife will expose the dry part of the stick. (That's one reason why we carry a sturdy knife)

    Try to find tree branches on the ground which aren't actually on the ground. If you can make the branch snap, it's dry. It might be wet or damp on the outside, but is otherwise dry.

    Unless you have a way to split a log, trying to burn anything bigger then a few inches around is futile. If you can't snap it across your knee, it's too big (or too wet/green) to burn.

    In the North East here, White Birch bark makes great fire starter. There never seems to be a White Birch tree near campsites, so I collect pieces during the day along the trail.

    Funny story:

    I did a hike on the Vermont section of the AT a few years ago in the fall. I was paced with a couple of woman who liked to heat up some Spam for dinner, so I got into the habit of making a fire for them each night. One night close to Hanover, I had a small fire going in a light rain.

    A collage ordination group shows up a little before dark and set up a big tarp near-by. A little while latter two young girls (who look like they just stepped out of the mall) come over to the shelter where I'm nursing the fire and ask me "Sir, where can we find dry firewood". Being the wise guy that I can be, I answer "What? You didn't bring any with you?" The expression on their faces was priceless.

    I then tried to explain the wood was only damp on the surface and to find down branches, etc., but they never did get a fire going that night.
    This works great in most places. But if you're going in area like the dolly sods or a rainforest for a week it can be quit the challenge. We've done the 30 mile loop and we've hiked in 5 miles or so with a tipi sized pack 90lbs , to a hidden gem of a camp along red creek we had for the whole week to ourselves . Only saw 2 people all week . But anyway you can say not have a fire but it's nice to have.

  9. #29

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    There used to a junior Maine Guide program in Maine (may still be). The students would be given a hand ax, a match, a string and 4' pine log. The 4' pine log would be sitting in the lake and had been for several hours before the event. The competition was the person who lit a fire from the log and burnt the string was the winner. They were not allowed to scrounge tinder, it all had to come off the log. When I was a scout if we were on a campout out in the woods and it rained one of the leaders would drag us out in the rain and have a competition on who could get fire going first. It was mostly a way of keeping us occupied but definitely honed our skills.

    If in fir and spruce I find it has to be really wet for quite a few days before the dead twigs sticking out of trunk get wet. I got a box of US Army ration heaters called trioxane years ago they seem to be close buy not identical to the Hexamine used in Esbit stove but I have heard of folks using it as substitute, They are in heavy foil wrap and make great fire starters as they burn for several minutes and can dry out tinder. I keep one in the bottom of my pack along with a spare headlamp and satellite beacon for when it really hits the fan.

    Of course up north we have white birch. It will burn hot even when damp. If I know I am going to have a campfire I usually look for some loose bark prior to getting to the campsite. Using white birch is one step away from pouring gas on a fire. Its waterproof and is also useful for putting under a fire that is being built on top of the snow. I usually lay down some larger sticks across the snow and finish up with the birch bark then build the fire on top of it. At one point it will flare off but buy then the fire is going. The local scouts used to go winter hiking around the local woods and I would usually bring hot dogs. At some point we would stop and then scouts needed to start fires on the snow and cook the hot dogs on sticks. Most of them figured out the birch bark trick pretty quick.

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    Wanted to add as far as breaking the bigger pieces you can utilize 2 trees growing close together stick the long wood through the 2 trees add push or pull to snap.

  11. #31
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    Good stuff guys. I think we're heading up to Grayson Highlands for some snow action before long, so hopefully this greater awareness of fire building will come in handy.
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  12. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by JPritch View Post
    I'm glad you brought this up! I was at Dolly Sods two weekends ago during the snow. I carried a 2.5# Duraflame log in to assist. We even found a campsite that had a neat stack of freshly cut logs. It had rained the night before. We absolutely could not get the logs to catch fire. The Duraflame burned for a long time under the logs. Made 'em char, glow, and you could see water boiling out...but they wouldn't catch.

    So any tips for actually getting the big fire going before we head out for another winter trip? I'd hate to strap 20# of Duraflame logs to my pack, but will if I have to
    These work great. I have used them when car camping. Each starter is 2"x 1"x 0.5" weigh 0.6oz each--- much lighter than a Duraflame log!!!!. They burn hot for at least 15 minutes. I have started fires in damp conditions with them.
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/duraflame...18pk/610531368
    If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

  13. #33
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    Fire is a hot topic.......

  14. #34
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    I too am de-lighted by this thread. It was truly a match to the gaps in my knowledge. Well done.
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  15. #35

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    Come on baby, light my fire.



  16. #36

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    I found this striker that I bought many years ago. It shaves something, maybe magnesium? then makes a spark. It seems to work really well (sparks very easily) and I canít wait to try it.

    (I burned my thumb multiple times recently when using a bic lighter...trying over and over to light my new Inferno.)
    47BD8A02-5405-4773-887A-CD0B97734CE3.jpeg
    Last edited by Traffic Jam; 12-10-2019 at 19:59.

  17. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    Yeah...I can’t figure how in the heck these people get damp wood to burn, are they magic? I’ve tried every tip that’s been suggested (and more, except the esbit and relighting birthday candles, very cool idea). I’ve also been with other hikers with better skills who also couldn’t get the wood to burn. There’s gotta be something more basic that I’m missing in my fire building skills. Are people using more flammable accelerants than hand sanitizer, Fritos, or petroleum jelly?
    Having multiple ways including using knowledge of local materials helps. Practicing beforehand helps. Taking survival classes helps. Ever notice on some of the Survival Shows "survivalists" seeming like they are attempting to start a fire lighting as Newbs? This is yet another skill set building ability that surprisingly few hikers possess.

  18. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Having multiple ways including using knowledge of local materials helps. Practicing beforehand helps. Taking survival classes helps. Ever notice on some of the Survival Shows "survivalists" seeming like they are attempting to start a fire lighting as Newbs? This is yet another skill set building ability that surprisingly few hikers possess.
    It infuriates me. I’m not a newbie. I understand the principals of starting a fire and I’ve practiced many times in different conditions using many techniques. I’ve read and watched videos. I ain’t stupid but can’t make a fire unless it’s summer and there’s a burn ban.

  19. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    It infuriates me. I’m not a newbie. I understand the principals of starting a fire and I’ve practiced many times in different conditions using many techniques. I’ve read and watched videos. I ain’t stupid but can’t make a fire unless it’s summer and there’s a burn ban.
    When all else fails, I toss some of my stove alcohol in there and that gets it going for sure You still need reasonably dry tinder though.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  20. #40

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    The reason it’s so important to me is because I am striving to become a competent winter backpacker. And I will never forget Another Kevin’s story about falling in the river in the Daks, having to strip out of his wet clothes, and making a fire to keep from freezing to death. I want to be that competent...as competent as that clueless weekender.

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