We have learned the components to build a fire, which is fantastic. However, if you are like me you are wondering, “If I have one match to start a fire with, what is the best way to position everything to have success on the first (and only) match?”
Let’s look at some different structures and see what we can learn!
There are three popular fire structures that we are going to cover today. These are the three structures that will be most likely to allow you success with one match, but they also will prove to be optimal for other tasks like cooking, boiling water, and providing heat.
Think of an old Indian Teepee and you are getting the right picture. The Teepee fire structure starts with some small kindling as the the teepee frame. You will want to lean the kindling against each other – you might also find it beneficail to sink 4 pieces in the dirt to help provide good strcuture rigidity. It is important the the frame is backed with small kindling and tinder, but not so tightly packed as to not allow for air to freely move in and through the inside of the structure.
Inside the Teepee frame will be room for your tinder. You can place the tinder inside if you are using a match to light the tinder. If you are using flint and steel or another method of heat to start the fire, then it might be smart to get the tinder started outside of the structure and then slide it in.
Once you have the fire going you can start laying more kindling, and eventually fuel, on the fire while still keeping the same teepee structure going.
The teepee fire lends itself to many great uses. It is a good cooking fire, it is easily managed and doesn’t have to big to provide a good amount of heat. This is probably my favorite and more often than not my go-to fire.
The Lean-To Fire is another of example of being what it sounds like. You start with the smallest piece of fuel that you have and you bury it in the ground at about a 45 degree angle.
Then you take small kindling and large tinder (and sometimes even some large kindling) and you lean it against the main support that is deep in the ground. Once all the wood is leaned in its place you should have a small strcture with the middle open.
The same rules about your tinder that we talked about above goes for this fire too. The structure should allow for easy ventilation and can be built to whatever size you like. When you place the tinder in the Lean-to you will want to make sure that it is placed in a good position for it to catch the other kindling on fire. This is typically toward the backside of the lean-to structure, so you might not want to build your lean-to too deep as to not be able to reach back easily to place (or light) the tinder.
The Lean-to fire is also a good fire for cooking and heating. It does often require more resources (Kindling and Fuel) to get started and burning than does the Tee-Pee fire structure.
Log Cabin Structure
The Log Cabin is a fire for a party. It is typically built for ceremonies, bon fires, and general show. Despite it not being an optimal cooking fire, it is extremely fun to build and provides plenty of heat while it burns. It requires a great deal of preparation, and you will need to collect all the wood you want to burn before you start building the fire strucutres.
It all starts with your fuel. The larger you want your fire then the larger diameter you will want your fuel. Once you have it all gathered, then you start to stack the fuel in a log cabin pattern (two parallel logs stacked upon two other parallel logs, moving each parallel pair closed together on each level). As you stack the fuel higher you want to use smaller and smaller logs and eventually start to use your kindling.
Once you have a structure built to your liking, it is time to get the tinder ready. It is often advised to place some kindling and tinder in the inside of your fuel too, but don’t pack it too tightly and prevent air flow. At the top of the structure you will want to stuff the kindling cabin part of the strucutre with tinder, then you are ready to start your fire.
The Log Cabin Fire’s success depends largely on the ample supply of kindling and gentle progression in the diameter of the woods used.
One Match Fire Starting Tips
I wanted to throw in a couple of tips I’ve learned when starting a fire (especially if you only have one match).
- Gather everything you need before you start. You don’t want to get your tinder going only to realize that you don’t have any kindling.
- Check, Double Check, and Triple Check. If there is only one chance to get the fire going, then you want to make sure that all prepartions are made for success. Visualize starting the fire and see what all you will need and make sure you have it. If you don’t go get it, and start the visualization over from the beginning again.
- Make Sure it is Dry. Don’t waste your time on wet tinder and kindling if you have any choice. No matter what (save the rain forest) you should be able to find some dry tinder some where – you might have to look hard, but it will be worth it.
- Don’t be afraid to get dirty. Sometimes you have to get dirty and breathe in a little smoke for success, but be willing to make those sacrifices. I can promise that all those efforts have been well worth the comfort and heat the fire offered me when the sun went down.
Have some fun with the fire structures and feel free to post any comments or creative applications you might have!