Getting Started For Wet Weather Fire-Starting
Fire is a critical part of survival. Even in the worst conditions, how to Start A Fire In Wet Weather is an emerging skill lost for many years.
In modern civilization, the need to start a fire is overshadowed by the other means we have for heating and cooking.
But when you’re caught in a survival situation, none of those means work, leaving you with the need to build a fire the old-fashioned way.
Fire-making does several important things for us.
First, we use it to heat our shelter, regardless of how primitive that shelter may be. While modern homes have central heating systems, you can’t expect that convenience when trying to survive in the wild.
We also use it to cook food, a necessity to prevent food poisoning. But fire does more than that as we use it to provide us with comfort and protection from wild animals.
When we need a fire, the most are when it is hardest to start one. That is, when it’s cold and windy, it’s raining or snowing, and we’re freezing wet.
A fire can mean the difference between life and death at such a time. The big problem is starting a fire in wet weather with wet wood is nearly impossible.
What To Do:
Find Dry Wood. The first step in starting any fire in wet weather is to find dry kindling, tinder, or at least wood that is not very wet. If it’s been raining, that can be hard to do. However, there are some places where the wood is always dry if you know where to look.
- In caves or under overhangs – You can almost always count on finding dry wood if a cave is nearby.
- Under deadfalls – This is one of the most reliable sources of dry wood. Even if the top side of the deadfall tree is soaking wet, the underside will be dry. It may even be shielding other wood that is dry as well.
- Under trees – Thick trees will often protect the wood under them. Large pine trees often have dead branches right at ground level. Those can be cut off and used as they are well protected from the rain.
- Even if you have to cut the wood from under the deadfalls, at least you’ll have something to start with. Once the fire is blazing away, you can always put damp wood beside it so that the heat from the fire will dry it out before you add it to the fire.
The following video is a great resource for How To Start a Fire In Wet Weather:
Dry Tinder. Dry tinder is as hard to find as dry fuel. The easy solution for this is to keep some dry Tinder with you. In olden times, this was common; travelers would carry a “tinder box” with their tinder and fire starters.
Lay Your Fire Right. You don’t want to have to do it over, so make sure that your fire is properly laid from the beginning. A bottom-up approach is best, where your tinder is at the bottom, with the kindling above it, followed by the fuel covering all that. In this manner, the fire can spread quickly and easily, so you don’t have to try again.
Shield Your Fire. You don’t want it raining directly into your fire, especially if it’s falling hard. Find a spot to build it where the fire can be somewhat shielded from the rain. Under a tree works great as long as the branches are high enough not to catch fire.
A Good Fire Starter. This is not the time you want to use a Ferro rod or a bow drill to start a fire. We are taking for granted that you are not at that level of expertise anyway! While both of these methods are great, they are harder to use, especially when fighting with moisture. Instead, use a match or lighter and a prepared fire starter that will catch fire quickly and easily. You can either buy these commercially or make your own. Some of the best are:
- Cotton Balls Soaked in Petroleum Jelly – This is a very easy fire starter to make and will keep for a long time. With the back side of a spoon, scoop up a teaspoon of petroleum jelly and work it into a cotton ball. The average cotton ball treated in this way will burn for over three minutes, giving plenty of time for the tinder and the kindling to catch. However, the trick is to have these supplies in your house or bug-out bag.
- Dryer Lint and Wax – Common dryer lint is fairly flammable. By adding candle wax to it, you can make it burn longer. The easiest way to do this is by putting balls of lint into cardboard egg cartons and pouring the wax over the top to soak the lint. You don’t have to cover it fully; just wet it down.
What Was Learned About Starting A Fire In Wet Weather:
Proper preparation makes all the difference in the world. If you take the time to make the right fire starters and keep them with you, you greatly increase your chances of starting a fire, even in wet weather.
Dry wood and tinder are always available if you keep your eyes open.
Learn to look for places in the wild sheltered from the rain. These are great for finding firewood, as well as making excellent campsites.
Of course, if it looks like it will rain, you probably want to stop and set up camp, starting your fire before any precipitation comes down. That way, you can be comfortable even in the rain.