So one of the most common survival skills almost everyone knows about or one that comes to mind when we talk about survival is the skill of starting a fire. For this, even newbies can boast about their know how because it is pretty easy and at least everyone knows 2 to 3 methods for achieving that. At worst you may likely have heard about the hand drill, the bow drill, the fire plough, flint and stone, the fire piston etc.
The thing is starting a fire in the rain or in persistently wet conditions is not as much of a ‘child’s play’ as the processes listed above. After it has rained everything around gets wet. Your tinder will probably ignite but all the dry materials you usually would use as fuel to sustain any fire would have taken a good cold bath and would be in no mood to get warm any time soon. So though you could get some smoke from your efforts, trust me getting a fire could be frustratingly difficult; and that right there is one of the rare cases of a smoke without a fire :)!
Here’s how to solve this problem or should I say get around this problem:
Basically, you’ll need your fire starting material such as some lint, firesteel, a bowie, and a pocket knife, a hatchet and a saw(optional). Then the trick here is to use using survival know hows such as flexing and batoning to getting suitable (dry) kindle and fuel to sustain your fire. It does take a longer time than usual but that’s your surest best for getting a good fire.
Here are some instructions from Scouting magazine on how this works:
This method isn’t fast, but it works with any kind of wood — even damp wood. You’ll need a:
- Sharp knife. To split fine kindling, set the sharpened edge of the knife on the end of an upright piece of wood then pound the spine through with a thick stick. Use a folding knife with a secure lock so the blade won’t close on your hand when you pound on the spine.
- Folding saw.
- Small hatchet to use as a splitting wedge, never as a chopper.
First, collect your wood. Locate a dead, downed tree, out-of-sight of tents, trails and waterways. Saw off an arm-thick limb. Touch the sawed end of the limb to your cheek (the center should feel dry). Don’t worry if there’s a ring of wet wood near the bark; you’ll discard it when you split the piece. Reject the wood if it smells damp or punky. The wood is good if it passes both cheek and smell tests.
Saw the limb into footlong sections and split each section into kindling. The hatchet should be used as a splitting wedge so there’s no chance of an accident.
Splitting wood is easier (and safer) with two people. Hold the hatchet with both hands and have a friend knock it through.
Hold the hatchet firmly with both hands and allow a friend with a log chunk to pound the hatchet head through.
Use that same procedure (with a lighter log) to split fine kindling with your knife. Then, use your knife to prepare your tinder. Cut a handful of wafer-thin shavings from your dry splittings.
Now that you’ve reached the dry part of the wood splittings, slice off several wafer-thin shavings to use as tinder.
Assemble the tinder (a handful of dry wood shavings no thicker than a match), kindling (one-eighth to one-quarter-inch thick dry wood splittings) and fuel (quarter-split logs). Trim all bark and damp wood from your tinder and kindling, and separate your wood into piles — tinder, kindling and fuel.
If it’s raining, work under a tarp so that all the materials stay dry.
Now it’s time to literally wait for the rainy day to practice this skill of successfully starting a fire after it has rain. You can still mimic right by covering your wood with a blanket-like material and dampening it by pouring water over it for some time. The skill should be practiced and perfected at least once in live conditions before you go making a mockery of yourself when it matters most say during camping or hiking or -hopefully not- in a real survival situation!