Baby sticks: Tips on light­ing fires

The Southland Times - - NEWS -

There is noth­ing quite like snug­gling up by the fire dur­ing a mis­er­able win­ter storm. But if you’re in the dark about how to get one go­ing, this bit­terly cold snap could be less warm and cosy and more win­try night­mare.

To help you brave the chilly nights ahead, here’s a few hot tips on how to start a fire.

Steve Por­te­ous, from Hu­man Bushcraft & Wild Liv­ing, said that ev­ery fire is sub­jec­tive, but it’s al­ways best to start out by us­ing ei­ther news­pa­per and/or kin­dling as thick as a piece of spaghetti as your base, be­fore lay­er­ing it with thicker wood.

‘‘Think of your tin­der like a fam­ily. Start with the baby sticks be­fore slowly lay­er­ing it with the chil­dren, then the teenagers, fol­lowed by the par­ents and end by throw­ing on the big grand­par­ent­sized pieces of wood if need be.’’

Once the fire is un­der way, it’s im­por­tant to leave room for air to reach the tin­der as you ‘‘don’t want to smother the baby’’ by putting too much kin­dling on, Por­te­ous said.

For­mer SAS sol­dier, sur­vival ex­pert and New Ply­mouth Dis­trict coun­cil­lor Horse McLeod told Stuff he thought ev­ery­one should know how to light a fire safely.

‘‘It’s a ba­sic life skill like first aid. It’s not a male or fe­male thing; that’s the way I see it.’’

When you go to start your fire, Por­te­ous said that one of the most im­por­tant fac­tors to con­sider is to en­sure you have dry wood.

‘‘Hav­ing dry, sea­soned wood - mean­ing it has been down and dead for a while - is su­per­im­por­tant for start­ing a good fire,’’ Por­te­ous said. ’’Unsea­soned wood that is green can work as well, but it tends to throw up a lot more smoke than sea­soned wood that has been kept un­der­cover.

‘‘An­other is­sue that I’ve come across is that peo­ple light their kin­dling at the top. This doesn’t work be­cause fire burn up­wards, so al­ways be sure to light the fire from the pieces of kin­dling at the bot­tom of your pile.’’

To keep your fire go­ing for longer, Por­te­ous rec­om­mended you sit with the fire and tend to it.

‘‘Build­ing a re­la­tion­ship with the fire is key. This helps you learn which types of wood works best and which doesn’t, how the wind ef­fects it and what other im­pacts the weather con­di­tions have on it.’’


Put an­other (dry) log on the fire.

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