How to Start a Fire Quickly Even With Wet Wood

As a kid growing up in Oregon, my grandfather used to take me fishing and camping and one wise thing he taught me was how to start a fire quickly even when everything is wet. He used to take me hiking to a remote place at the river to catch winter steelhead and in the winter it was cold and sometimes rainy and he knew that making sure I could start a fire if I got lost or in trouble was very important.

At a young age he taught me to always have a road flare in my backpack when going out in the wild like that. A road flare lights like a match and will burn with a hot flame for a long time. Once it is lit you can start putting dead branches or other dead wood into and around the flame. With a 15 minute flare even if the wood is soaked there is enough time for the hot flames to dry the wood and get it to burn.

If you don’t have dead wood available live wood can work too. It is more difficult to get green wood to burn but if you start putting small twigs in and around the hot flame from the flare they will eventually burn. Leaving the leaves and needles on the twigs can help since they dry out and ignite faster. It is much more difficult with green wood so always go for the dead wood if available.

Keep plenty of wood accumulated around the flame from the flare to make a hot core of burning wood as soon as possible and that will be hot enough to support the fire after the flare goes out. Place the wood so it holds in heat but can still get good air circulation to supply the fire with plenty oxygen. The tee pee shape can work good for this. Once you get a good hot core of burning wood with a bed of coals you can throw just about any kind of wood on it and it will burn.

It have heard stories of people going out in the snow and kids going on family outings and a kid or even an adult gets separated and lost and freezes to death. If they had a flare and were taught how to use it, it may have saved their lives.

Any time I am out in the wild in cold weather I always have at least one flare in my pack or at least in my vehicle if I know I am not going far away from it. It is a good habit to get into and something that is good to teach your kids. A road flare is very inexpensive and having one on hand may save your life.

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