2 Biggest Mistakes When Building a Fire

From time to time, it happens that you do not devote enough time to set up a fire and this lack of focus and effort will result in issues to keep the fire burning.
A fire survives thanks to the fire triangle (oxygen, heat and fuel): when one of these elements is missing, the fire goes out shortly.

If you’ve collected the right amount of tinder, kindling and well dried fuel wood, all you need to do is to obtain the right balance between air and heat. And now i’ll tell you the secret: you can find the right balance by leaving enough space (but not too much) between the logs.

Mistake #1: The Wood is Too Tight

If you’ve packed the wood too tight, it does not have sufficient oxygen to support the heat, therefore the temperature drops and the fire will go out.

Blowing air would keep your fire burning however it is a very inefficient way of managing your fire.

To correct this problem, try to create more space by pushing away the pieces with a green stick. To avoid completely the problem, make your fire over a green wood grid leaving an air space beneath the burning pieces.

Mistake #2: The Wood is Too Far Apart

If you place the logs too far apart, the heat is lost and the temperature is not sufficient to keep a fire burning.

To fix this issue, add kindling between the fire wood. As the kindling gets fire, put more kindling and then add wood fuel.

Sometimes you start with the appropriate distance but just because the wood is burning, the space will increase. Stoke the fire by moving the remaining wood closer or by adding more fuel.


Paying attention to the space between wood fuel before starting a fire and during its lifespan, you’ll avoid to waste your energy to light it again.

Remember: maintaining a fire is lot easier than starting a new one.



Nature Observation & Relaxation – Take Some Time To Be You

Have you ever gone camping for the weekend, and didn’t really start to slow down until the weekend was over? For the average adult– that is one who has a job, bills, family, stress, or simply life wearing them down—it can take up to 2 days of being in the woods before you really begin to enjoy it.

You can throw out as many excuses as you want. Unpacking and setting up a tent can be stressful? You forgot something important at home? You have a deadline or due date looming over your head? Maybe you feel guilty about taking a break from life to go into nature and relax.

Unfortunately, that transition period can interfere with your whole purpose of going camping. You need to get away from it all and unwind because that’s how you reconnect. That’s how you return as the best you that you can be. If it takes you two days to get there on a weekend camping trip… what about a hike that only last a couple hours?!

Physical and mental relaxation goes hand in hand with nature observation. When you bring your troubles into the woods with you, you will not be able to get the intended results out of your nature observation experience. In the worst possible scenario, you may leave feeling even more stressed than before you began.

To Achieve Full Relaxation, You Must Let Those Thoughts Go!

Before entering a natural environment, you must free your mind and body of all tension. Study common meditation practices, because that is the most effective way to reach the right state of mind so you can concentrate on seeing more, feeling more, and experiencing more of your surroundings.

A natural environment is no place for the worries of civilization, and people go into nature observation to get away from it all… so it is counter-productive to bring all that garbage with you!

Simple Meditation Exercise – Do Try This At Home!

Lay down on your back, or sit in a very comfortable position, and relax your body starting with your feet then working up to your head. Massage if necessary. Once your body is relaxed, close your eyes and quietly count backwards from 100 down to one.

This simple meditation exercise works because it concentrates your mental efforts only on the numbers you’re counting and does not allow any other thoughts into your mind. Whatever meditation exercise you use, the concentrated state of mind should be brought into the woods so you can continue to focus completely on nature observation… to see, feel, and experience as much as possible in a natural environment.


Comfort Inn Shelters

The thought of living in a long term shelter may not bring up an image of comfort, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to live comfortably in a long term shelter. (Pardon the triple negative.)

First, consider which type of shelter you’ll be residing in. Details such as the shape of your shelter will strongly affect how comfortable it will be.

  • “Tee-pee” shelters are ideal for areas with frequent storms, cold weather, and low pressure fronts because they allow you to keep warm with a fire in your shelter, and keep the smoke level high. The catch, however, is that the extra space requires a larger fire (and more fuel) to keep the floor temperature comfortable.
  • “Wig-wams” or shelters with a dome shape have lower ceilings and keep heat closer, but smoke can fill the interior and that’s not safe or comfortable. Some steps can be taken to prevent this from happening, such as having a smoke flap open into the wind and by using smaller logs in a tee-pee shape to keep your fire burning clean and evenly.

Dome shelters are ultimately more comfortable for one person or a group of people. A practical (and cozy) interior focuses on specific areas, including:


Doorways that are extended a meter or more away from the shelter allow for two doors. The outside door can be well sealed to preserve interior warmth; and an interior door or flap will further minimize drafts. Also, the space between is a good place to keep muddy or icy shoes.

Fire Pits

An effective fire pit should be approximately 15 centimeters deep at the center, and slope up to floor level. When building a fire on flat ground, a ring of rocks or dirt can help contain coals and ash but this is not necessary with a fire pit and it may reduce the heat you’ll feel at floor level.


A comfortable bed can be made by creating a rectangle of logs or stakes and filling the inside with pine needles, grass, or dry leaves. The filling should be at least 20 centimeters thick after compression, and this will keep you well insulated from the ground.

The best beds can be built at least 30 centimeters off the floor by pounding stakes into the ground, lashing a frame onto the stakes, and making a solid platform on top of the frame which is covered by the previously described bedding materials, then stuffing the same into the space underneath the platform. The filling underneath does not need to be compressed, but it will hold heat better and lead to a cozy nights’ sleep. (Alternatively, you can use the space underneath your bed for storage.)

Tables & Workbenches

Using the same steps (without the insulation) you can build tables and workbenches for preparing food, storing materials, or working on skills.


If you have the choice, cooking is best done over a fire outside, and should always be done over coals or hot rocks instead of flames.



Silva Orienteering Compass

Survival Kit Component: Orienteering Compass

In the advent of cutting edge navigating mobile phone apps and high-tech GPS units, maps and orienteering compass seem to have existed from the dinosaur era. But while these old survival tools are outdated, they can still be one’s saving grace when technology becomes out of reach. GPS, after all, may be another useless junk when it runs out of batteries in the middle of a jungle.

Having ample knowledge in orienteering can help individuals navigate their way around a point towards their destination. Given that this survival strategy necessitates knowing directions, an orienteering compass should always be kept at hand. This becomes vital for those who are about to venture out in the wilderness with the risks of having electronics dying out. Compasses after all, can help individuals locate terrains and walk towards the right direction.

Orienteering compass was first introduced in the 1930s. Since then, it has been used widely by soldiers and scientists. What makes it highly reliable is the durability brought by the base plate that eliminates the need to carry a protractor around. It is also built with a cover that protects the needle, along with a mirror that allows explorers to see objects easier.

In terms of survival skills, an orienteering compass can be used with a topographic map that can lead anyone to safety. It is thus important to be in the know-how when it comes to using an orienteering compass.

Before using the compass, it is vital for the users to determine the difference between the actual North and the magnetic North. This should be easy, as the needle of the compass always points to the magnetic North. Then again, it is important to keep all metal objects at a distance to avoid having these disrupt the compass magnet. Set key chains, flashlights and knives far enough.

Lay the map flat on a surface, and place the compass on top of it. Make sure that the arrow is pointing to the direction of the travel. Turn the housing of a compass like how a dial is turned. Do this to make sure that the arrows at the base are pointing to the same North in the Map.

Carefully lift up the compass without disturbing the housing and lay it flat on the hand. Hold it steady and towards the direction of travel. Turn around slowly until the needle of the compass lines up with the arrow pointing to the North at the base of the housing.

Walk towards the direction pointed by the orienteering compass.

In this sense, the compass can be used to go around possible obstruction without losing the explorer’s bearing. But this is just one of the ways on how this tool can be used for survival.

Note that orienteering compasses also come with magnifying mirrors which can be used to see objects from afar. This can be used by travellers stuck in the wilderness to see what they are about to deal with.

With this knowledge stored, even Hansel and Gretel could find their way back without leaving bread crumbs along the way.

The Horace Strategy

When someone is looking for you and you don’t want them to find you, it’s called escape and evade.

They’ll do whatever they can to find you – using their senses. However, become a part of the environment – invisible and silence – and they won’t be able to sense you out at all. If you confuse them, they won’t be able to think. Do whatever you can to weaken their bodies and the one thing that’ll work for them is their emotions. Once that happens, you got total control over them.

Speed and Stealth: Good But Not The Only Things You Need To Escape and Evade

Here’s what you need to understand: stealth… it can be a real friend when you need it. Speed… it’s what you need for emergencies. Most people are under the mistaken impression that escape and evade means just putting distance between you and the people after you. The reality is… it’s wrong!

When it comes to the life and death game, both speed and stealth are comparative. Remember, it’s you against them and vice versa. When the chance first starts, speed is going to be your key advantage. After all, they don’t get a moment to get organized when they need to chase you right off the bat.

Scared or not, the better your lead time, the better it is for you. Of course, it’s not just about you running quicker than them; it’s about them running slower. Take one person out of the “running” and the rest of the folks slow down. When they first begin chasing you – with many people, dogs and weapons – they will continue the chase. But, the moment one becomes injured or dies, the others will falter and begin thinking, “maybe this isn’t such a good idea”.

The last thing you need to do is panic! Panic and you lose the talent to plan. Do this and you’ll be caught for sure! You must know, if you are to succeed, what kind of power you enemy has and have a contingency for every possibility. Evaluate the position and plan around those facts.

3 Things To Remember When Escaping and Evading

1 – You should never make a move that demands some type of strength or weapon…especially if you don’t have it. You do want them to do overdo it – to run scared and to overextend themselves. Wear them out and they’ll end up making a mistake that’ll work in your favor!
2 – Be aware of your physical state and how you maintain yourself when you escape.
3 – And, most of all, don’t just rely on distance. While good, it will only help you when you do the other things along with it.

Be Prepared With a Survival Kit When the Next Disaster Hits

It seems as if every time there’s a natural disaster somewhere there’s been no warning. Everyone is shocked and most are unprepared for the flood, the earthquake or the tsunami. Everyone’s life is in upheaval and it affects every aspect. All of a sudden you are not in your cozy living room anymore watching television. You’re in survival mode and just trying to keep yourself and your family alive.

You’re going to use all your instincts, skills and training to do whatever you can to make sure you all make it through the disaster. If you’ve prepared a survival kit ahead of time you’re going to be in much better shape than if you hadn’t. At least you will be able to alleviate some of the immediate problems.

You’ve got to figure out what you’re going to need in an emergency or in a disaster, whether it’s man-made or natural. One of the most useful tools is going to be a good quality knife with some versatility. This is basic Survival 101 as a cutting tool like a knife has always been a part of a man’s armory. The knife should be able to cut, slice, split, dig, work as a screwdriver, be helpful in self-defense, in cooking, hunting, and anything else you can think of.

In selecting the perfect type of knife for your survival kit you’re going to see all sizes, shapes and functions. It might be long, short, fixed, folding, sharp, angled, rounded, hooked or with flat tips. You’ll see single edged and double edged, some made of carbon steel and others made of stainless steel. You will see everything you can think of. But you can’t fit them all in your kit. You’re going to need to choose.

Every knife has a specialized function. So for your survival kit you would want a knife that’s going to work for all the tasks needed in a disaster. A fixed-blade probably makes more sense than a folding knife because you need it to be strong and the extra joints will work against that. A shorter knife will probably work better than a big knife because you’re probably going to be using it for small jobs like carving a precision snare set or dressing small game. For tasks like these a smaller knife is better. However you’re still going to need to use it for chopping and spearing so for these things a longer knife is needed. It might make sense to have a 9 – 11 inch fixed knife in the survival kit.

A second knife isn’t out of the question and for this I would recommend a short fixed-blade with a full-tang. If you don’t know what a full-tang is let me explain. It means the blade and handle are made from one continuous piece of metal. This means they’re very sturdy. They can be used as a spear if you remove the grip and attach the knife to a long stick with twine or tape. It’s very useful when you have to hunt down prey or if you have the opportunity to spear some fish for your next meal.

A knife with a single edge is easier to use than a double-edged knife because you’re able to apply some thrust from the blunt side. Another thing to pay attention to when you’re choosing a knife is that you’re going to need to hammer things from time to time and a knife with a solid pommel or butt comes in very handy for this task.

All in all if you only have room for one knife in your survival kit it’s probably going to be a short fixed-blade knife with a full-tang. This type of knife can handle almost anything and is very versatile, more than most other knives. It’s very important though to be able to use it correctly. If you’re going to survive a disaster and take care of your family get used to handling the knife. Use it around the house and for chores outside as well. Make sure you know how to sharpen it and make sure you include the sharpener in the survival kit. You never know when the next disaster will hit and knowing you’re prepared as much as you can be will give you some peace of mind.


How To Build A Fire

Building a fire from scratch is a skill most people don’t know how to do, but it is one that could save your life should you find yourself lost in the woods, in the middle of a natural disaster or without power in the middle of winter. Not only will a fire keep you warm but it can also purify your water and cook your food.

Here are a few tips on building a fire as well as a list of items you’ll need:


What You Will Need

There are a few different approaches you can take when it comes to building a fire, whichever one you decide to go with, here is what you will need…

  1. Tinder- This is the launching pad for every fire. Tinder is made up of dry sticks, paper, dead grass etc… You should be able to find enought of this lying around any forest floor. You should not need a lot.
  2. Kindling- Once you get your tinder lit you’ll transfer it to your kindling which is just sticks that are bigger than whatever your tinder is. Once your kindling is lit you’ll want to place it under your logs as a coal bed.
  3. Logs/Wood- Obviously logs are large pieces of wood. Make sure they’re dry and you have enough to keep your fire going as long as you’ll need it.
  4. Fire Starter- If you’re prepared then you should have matches or a lighter to start your fire, but should you find yourself in an emergency situation or if you’re resources have been taken from you then you’ll need to find or make a new fire starter. An example of a homemade fire starter can be found here at


Tip: Be aware of your surroundings when making a fire and always make sure you have a way to put it out quick. Forest fires can happen quickly.

How to Build

Once you have all your resources you will need to build a fire pit. Essentially you just need to dig a small hole that you will set your logs in and surround that with rocks so as to contain the fire.

Now that you have your pit, set your tinder in the middle and your kindling on top of that in a teepee like structure. It is important to have a teepee structure so that oxygen can find its way in to help fuel the fire. At this point you are ready to light the fire with your fire starter. As soon as your tinder and kindling are burning you can begin adding logs to your fire as to grow it and create more heat.


In a nutshell, that is ow you can create a fire. It isn’t that difficult and all the items you need can be found in the outdoors. Go outside and practice this skill over and over again so that you can get the skill down. Knowing how to build a fire is a skill that could end up saving your life.

Featured images:

By Henry H. Hernandez

Henry Hernandez is an Army veteran and father of two. Henry works for a company that makes underground steel bunkers and storm shelters Henry can be found on Google+.


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Air: A Natural Resource That’s Far More Useful Than Just For Breathing

There are several natural resources people take advantage of. However, one of the more taken for granted resource is air. Air can be found in most places around the world – well, except, of course, underwater!

Now, air is a mixture of several kinds of gases:

  • Argon
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Nitrogen
  • Oxygen
  • Trace amounts of various gases

Air also has a variable amount of moisture, which is what create the Earth’s atmosphere.

The atmosphere does several things to protect the planet:

  1. It absorbs the ultraviolet solar radiation
  2. It warms the surface using heat retention
  3. It decreases the extreme temperature between night and day.
  4. It allows people to breathe.

What Other Benefits Does It Provide People


Air can be used for drying. You can hang wet clothes out on a line to dry your clothes on breezy days. The breeze and air will dry them in practically no time. When you’re out in the wild, dirty laundry is still better dry than it is wet. After all, it keeps mold from growing.

Of course, using air for laundry can be taken even further. For example, turn your sleeping bag inside out for five minutes each day. Why? When you sleep, your body will perspire due to the bag’s warmth. Airing it out will evaporate the moisture so that the bag stays dry. This will lengthen its lifespan as well as its washing frequency.

Insulation and Warmth

Air is also worthwhile for sleeping bags because it can help in insulating people, keeping them warm. This logic can also be applied to shelter-building. It’s better to use a spongy, bracken base for a roof structure that’s been packed heavily with dry leaves, instead of something dense, because it keeps air trapped within the materials, acting like a good insulator for keeping things warm and toasty.

Besides, breathing and keeping an area dry and warm, what other things does air do for the universe?

Food Preservation

Air is also good for preserving food. Air drying of fish and meat will ensure food is kept for when you are hungry. This kind of practice also provides jerky, and with this method, you can really adventurous by flavoring your meats with pepper, salt or other seasoning.

Remember this saying: you don’t know what you have until you no long have it? Well, air is one of those things that people take for granted.

What Happens When You Don’t Have Any Air

At high altitudes, air begins thin out. And, when this happens, there are a significant number of difficulties the human body must bear. As the lungs don’t get enough air, the body tries to handle it by increasing the number of breaths you take as well as your heart rate. About 50 percent of folks at 14,000 feet will be overcome with altitude sickness. Symptoms of altitude sickness include:

  • Extended shortness of breath
  • Extended fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Exhaustion
  • Vomiting

These symptoms are the body’s way of saying you need to reduce your altitude level. If you do so, you can continue after a couple of days. If not, it could become deadly.

As you can see, air is extremely important each and every day of the week. You need it far more than just for breathing, which is something you probably never thought of!

How to Make a Snow Pit

In the winter time, it’s a waste of energy to dig through a layer of snow trying to get to the debris and build a leaf hut. A more practical solution in the colder months would be a snow shelter, or a snow pit.

Here’s how to make one:

  1. Choose a good location near your materials and start digging a pit. The shape doesn’t matter, but some prefer rectangular pits because they are easier to cover.
  2. Rather than trying to carry armloads of snow, try to kick it out because it is very important to stay as dry as possible.
  3. If possible, dig all the way to the ground, leaving enough space for bedding and enough room to prop up on an elbow. The best depth for a snow pit is approximately four feet, or deeper if you plan on building a small fire for warmth.
  4. On the bottom, spread out at least six inches of leaves everywhere except the fire area.
  5. Create a roof over your snow pit using a thick layer of branches, and cover this with snow. Plan for an air vent through the brush and snow.
  6. Create a tunnel on one side of the shelter, and fill it with as much insulating material as you can collect.
  7. Plug the door with a block of snow and rest for the night, away from the wind and cold winter air.
survival firecraft vaseline cotton balls

Survival Kit Component: Magnesium Stick & Vaseline Cotton Balls

my fire kit - ferrocerium rod and magnesium bar

Fire isn’t more useful than when you find yourself in a survival situation. Perhaps you believe lightning fire won’t be a problem as you always carry a lighter or matches. Lighters run out of fuel, get wet or perhaps stop working. Matches may become useless by staying in your pocket or if exposed to rain, snow or submerged in water. Never depend on matches as your exclusive method of fire starting.

Bring alternative ways of starting a fire like a magnesium stick with a sparker. The magnesium stick is straightforward to use and is great at starting fires even if the tinder is damp because it generates a flame source of over 2500°C. Believe it or not, magnesium stick is my primary fire starter even if i absolutely love primitive methods such as the bow drill.

In order to start a fire you can even use cotton balls which were soaked with petroleum jelly (vaseline). Collect dry tinder, break up the cotton ball somewhat, and put close to the tinder. Hold the magnesium fire starter stick block in one hand and the knife in the other. Scrape small shavings off along one side over the cotton ball. The scraping puts small particles of magnesium on the cotton ball.

petroleum jelly (vaseline) cotton balls on fireUsing the striker strip and the back of a fixed bladed knife apply pressure and push the knife blade along the striker toward the cotton ball. One or two sparks will ignite the cotton. A 2×2 cm ball will burn 5 to 10 minutes, long enough to ignite even a damp tinder.

Never use the back of a folding knife blade unless it has a locking mechanism. The blade can fold up on your fingers.

Remember: it’s essential to train with the magnesium stick wherever possible so during a real life emergency, you’ll start a fire faster.

Survival Skills for a primal world. Learn practical skills for everyday life in the wilderness.