Baby sticks: Tips on lighting fires
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.