Starting Fires




Search  Inquiry Net

Back ] Home ] Up ] Next ]

Traditional Fire-Making
Starting Fires
Cooking Fires
Fires in the Ground
Baking Fires
Camp Fires
Fire Construction
Fire by Friction

Scout Books

Site Contents

Part I

Starting Fires

First a curl of birch bark dry as it can be,
Then some twigs of softwood, dead, but on the tree,
Last of all some pine-knots to make the kittle foam,
And there's a fire to make you think you're settin' right at home.
Ernest Thompson Seton, Two Little Savages).

Fuzz-Stick (1). Every hiker or camper may test his skill with a knife by trying to whittle a fuzz-stick.

All that is required is a piece of dry wood (preferably soft), a sharp knife, and a little skill in using it. Point the end of a piece of wood about a foot long and an inch thick. Holding the pointed end, rest the other end against something solid (not your leg, unless you have a first aid kit handy), and whittle long thin shavings, leaving them attached to the stick. The trick of whittling so that the shavings remain on the stick can be easily accomplished ; pull up on the stick, and cut a little deeper as you near the end of the cut.

Fuzz-Stick Substitutes (2). Hikers without sharp knives and without ability to whittle (the woods are full of them) must use a substitute for a fuzz-stick. Gather a large handful of very small, bone-dry twigs, plant stalks, or weed tops, at least a foot long. Break off both ends of the bundle so that the sticks are of about the same length, and crack the middle across your knee. Hold the halves at an angle of about forty-five degrees, and with the ends scratch a depression in the ground so that the twig wigwam will stand rigidly.

1. What is the objection to starting a fire with paper or leaves? Did you ever see a real woodsman do it? 

2. How are the lives of birch trees endangered when children are taught to start fires with birch bark?

3. What hardwoods are suitable for whittling fuzz-Sticks?

Fuzz-Stick Substitute

Pyramid, or Wigwam Fire (3). A pyramid fire is popular with novices who enjoy watching a big blaze. The expert outdoor cook is annoyed by the blaze because he usually prefers glowing hardwood embers. The objection to a pyramid fire for cooking is that the center falls to only a small bed of coals surrounded by blazing and smoking chunks. Hikers, however, should be familiar with this fire, since it is commonly used for starting other types of fires.

Erect one or more fuzz-sticks, or a fuzz-stick substitute, and set upright around it in wigwam fashion sound, dry wood varying from the size of your thumb to that of a lead pencil.


Pyramid or Starting Fire

When starting any fire, remember:

1. Hardwoods produce better coals than softwoods.

2. Split wood burns faster than round branches.

3. Fire burns upward; use long sticks.

4. Fire needs air ; leave plenty of space for it.

5. Lay the fire and have a supply of wood before lighting.

6. Conserve heat ; hang the kettle before lighting the fire.

Traditional Fire-Making


Part II: General Cooking Fires


Part III: Fires in the Ground


Part IV: Baking Fires 


Part V: Camp Fires


Part VI: Fire Construction Work & Handicraft


Part VII: Fire by Friction







Additional Information:

Peer- Level Topic Links:
Traditional Fire-Making ] [ Starting Fires ] Cooking Fires ] Fires in the Ground ] Baking Fires ] Camp Fires ] Fire Construction ] Fire by Friction ]

Parent- Level Topic Links:
Activities ] Archery ] Axe, Boy Scout ] Axe, Saw, Forestry ] Axe, Saw,  Knife ] Axe Use: Beard ] Axe Use: Seton ] Axe Use: Traditional ] Axe Throwing ] Beds, Woodcraft ] Bedding Materials ] Bicycle Maintenance ] Birch-Bark Torch ] Birds ] Bird Houses ] Blocks Tackles Purchase ] Blood Red Cross ] Broom: Camp or Witch's ] Buttons ] Campcraft ] Camp Hygiene ] Camp Planning ] Campfire Programs ] Catapult ] Chainsaws ] Checklists ] Chuck Box Riddance! ] City-Craft ] Compass Bear Song ] Compass, Home-Made ] Cooking ] Cotton Kills Bear Song ] Deduction in Tracking ] Deduction & Detective ] Drum ] Dyes ] Edible Plants ] Equipment, Leader ] Equipment, Personal ] Equipment Maintenance ] Equipment, Lightweight ] Equip, Pickle Bucket Camp ] Estimation ] Field Signals ] Fire-Building ] Fire Building ] Fire Laying ] Fire Lighting ] Fire Starters ] Fire: Rubbing-Stick ] Fire Types, Wood Types ] Fire Council Ring ] Fires: Woodcraft ] First Aid ] First Class Journey ] Flint & Steel ] Flowers ] Forest ] Gesture Signals ] Ground to Air Signals ] Handicraft Stunts ] High Adventure ] Hiking ] Hike Planning ] Indian Sundial Clock ] Insect Collecting ] Insect Preserve ] Indian Well ] Knife & Hatchet ] Knots, Bends, Hitches ] Knots: Diamond Hitch ] Knots: Lashings ] Knots: Rope Work ] Knots: Seton ] Knots: Traditional ] Knots & Whipping ] Lashings ] Lashing Practice Box ] Lace or Thong ] Learn by Doing ] Leave No Trace ] Leave No Trace ] Lights ] Local Knowledge ] Log Ladders, Notched ] Log-Rolling ] Logs: Cut Notch ] Logs Split with Axe ] Loom and Grass Mats ] Lost in the Woods ] Manners ] Maps ] Map & Compass ] Maps: Without Compass ] Measurement ] Measurement Estimation ] Menu Worksheet ] Menu (Adult IOLS) ] Mosquitoes ] Mushrooms ] Night Tracking ] Observation ] Old Trails ] Paints ] Pioneering, Basic ] Pioneering Models ] Plaster Casts ] Preparations ] Proverbs ] Rake ] Rope Care ] Rope Making ] Rope Spinning ] Scout Reports ] Signal & Sign ] Sign Language ] Silent Scout Signals ] Smoke Prints ] Snakes ] Spanish Windlass ] Spoons ] Staff/Stave Making ] Stalking Skills ] Stalking & Observation ] Stars ] Stools ] Story Telling ] Stoves & Lanterns ] Summoning Help ] Sun Dial: Scientific ] Survival Kit ] Tarp Poles ] Teepee (4 Pole) ] Tent Care ] Tent Pitching ] Tom-Tom ] Tomahawk Throwing ] Tomahawk Targets ] Totem Making ] Totem Animals ] Totem Poles ] Training in Tracking ] Tracks, Ground, Weather ] Tracking & Trailing ] Trail Following ] Trail Signs & Blazes ] Trail Signs of Direction ] Trail Signs: Traditional ] Trail Signs for Help ] Trees of the NE ] Wall Hangings ] Watch Compass ] Weather Wisdom ] Wild Things ]

The Inquiry Net Main Topic Links:
 [Outdoor Skills]  [Patrol Method [Old-School]  [Adults [Advancement]  [Ideals]  [Leadership]  [Uniforms]

Search This Site:

Search Amazon.Com:

When you place an order with Amazon.Com using the search box below, a small referral fee is returned to The Inquiry Net to help defer the expense of keeping us online.  Thank you for your consideration!



Amazon Logo



Scout Books Trading Post

Dead Bugs, Blow Guns, Sharp Knives, & Snakes:
What More Could A Boy Want?

Old School Scouting:
What to Do, and How to Do It!

To Email me, replace "(at)" below with "@"

If you have questions about one of my 2,000 pages here, you must send me the "URL" of the page!
This "URL" is sometimes called the "Address" and it is usually found in a little box near the top of your screen.  Most URLs start with the letters "http://"

The Kudu Net is a backup "mirror" of The Inquiry Net.  

2003, 2011 The Inquiry Net,  In addition to any Copyright still held by the original authors, the Scans, Optical Character Recognition, extensive Editing,  and HTML Coding on this Website are the property of the Webmaster.   My work may be used by individuals for non-commercial, non-web-based activities, such as Scouting, research, teaching, and personal use so long as this copyright statement and a URL to my material is included in the text
The purpose of this Website is to provide access  to hard to find, out-of-print documents.  Much of the content has been edited to be of practical use in today's world and is not intended as historical preservation.   I will be happy to provide scans of specific short passages in the original documents for people involved in academic research.  


Last modified: October 15, 2016.