I think most people know from coming to parties and events that I love fire. I often sit and watch fire. It has got to be the most mesmerising thing, and possibly more so when it is a fire that you have lit.
The satisfaction that comes from lighting a fire, for me is second to none. I love it when I work with groups – kids and adults – and you take them through the process of building a fire and then letting them light it with whichever means they have chosen. The look on their faces when they know that it has taken and they have done it is amazing!
Different fire lighting methods
There are some methods of ignition that I prefer over others. Some are easier and with the right tinder can be so straight forward. I think that fire steels are a brilliant piece of kit. They also help make fire lighting accessible for younger kids to have a go. Other methods are much trickier, but with time and practice can bring huge satisfaction.
My favourite fire lighting method
I love the bow drill. Essentially, this is rubbing two sticks together to make a fire. I remember getting my first bow drill set. And I can also remember that it lay unused for quite a while after my first few attempts. I nearly threw it into a hedge at one point!
But with guidance on the types of wood to use, the positioning of the body to get the right amount of downward pressure of the drill on the base board, and how to bow effectively I began to love this method of fire lighting.
It is still fairly hard work. Some days more than others, but when you see and smell the smoke starting at the bottom of the drill and the pile of char (black powder) building and getting darker on the ember pan, you know that you are almost there! (and it’s exciting!)
Mastering the bow drill
It takes time to master the bow drill. To learn which materials to use, and improve your technique. And it takes patience to let the char build into the ember that you need. It’s all in the preparation. Along the way I have failed at many points in this journey, especially getting the tinder bundle prepared.
Once prepped you can transfer your ember in to the tinder bundle and breathe life into the ember. Then watch as the smoke thickens and then the flames appear! It is still like some kind of alchemy to me!
If you’ve tried it and not yet succeeded, don’t give up – give it another go! Or come and join me for a Bushcraft Adventure and we’ll have a go together!