Learning Fire Skills

Hi fellow Outdoorsmen,

Today I want to appreciate the need to learn something as basic but important as making a fire

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Learning Fire Skills

Fire is one of the greatest skills that we've learned as humanity has grown and evolved. It's got so many positive implications for us as a species that it's difficult to equate it to anything else. Without fire and combustion, we would not have most of the things that we take full advantage of today. Cars, planes, anything really is affected by the ability to have fire. Kind of crazy to think about and certainly a fun thought experiment!

The computers we use, cars we drive, food we eat, water we drink all is positively affected by the discovery of fire. We wouldn't be able to move goods without fire, as much as the environmentalist fruitcakes think that this isn't the case. Granted I am not saying environmentalism is a bad thing but poorly placed environmentalism is not helpful to the long term benefit of humanity. I digress though and could potentially elaborate on that in a #ThoughtfulThursday post in the future!

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The little man has been enjoying with me learning how to better start and utilize a fire for things. One of those things that we've been trying to do and get better at is building a fire from scratch that is able to easily get started and be sustained in various conditions. One of the core tenets of building a fire is to have the starting material be as dry as possible, which completely makes sense because if it's wet it won't light!

To the chagrin of these carpenter ants though, we found this incredible downed limb of a tree on one of our walks recently and immediately grabbed it to stick it in the fire! We weren't assholes though and burned the ants alive unless they didn't leave the log. We cracked open the wood and soon realized why the tree limb broke and fell! These things set up a significant colony in the wood. There were thousands of the critters in there! Lol. We opened it and let them escape as much as they could before we split the wood more and added it to the fire.

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One of the things I have been trying to teach him, and what he's learned pretty well thankfully, is the necessity of building a fire properly in order to maximize the success of said fire. It's best to have a fire built kind of separated out, with big logs at the bottom but layered so that things are able to criss cross and form a support structure. We then have a flat layer that we build the initial fire on. I know there are different ways to do this whole thing but I've found this one to be pretty helpful. It keeps the fire, once it lights, off the ground and allows it plenty of air flow so that it can grow. Eventually the layer that it's sitting on catches fire enough that it then falls down into the layer below it which lights it on fire. I've had pretty good success with this method thus far!

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We then keep adding small sticks to the top and near the sides and it eventually grows into a decent fire that can sustain itself even if we add some wet wood to it. It takes a bit before that happens and we try to dry some sticks and small logs nearby the fire to make it more successful. When we get a nice roaring fire though, you can throw a sopping wet log into it almost and have it dry up quickly and burn nicely!

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One thing I love relaxing and looking into are the nice rolling embers of a mature fire that's slowly losing it's strength and starting to die down. There is definitely something therapeutic to the changing oranges and reds that you can see! I can see why people used to look into fires like this and almost hallucinate and claim they saw all kinds of stuff.

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One of the funny things that the little man has insisted he try and I let him, because it's best he learn, is being able to hold a little ember in his hand! He tried to touch one without any protection and immediately found out why that's not a good idea lol. I don't think it's a good idea to stop them from doing this unless they are sticking their hand into the fire or something foolish. But if they go to grab a small coal, we shouldn't stop them so they learn what it feels like and will teach them a decent life lesson about being careful!

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He came up with the idea of using leaves to grab the coal after he burned his fingers on the first attempt. He kept going up and up with the number of leaves until it was comfortable for him to hold it so that was good. He initially tried it with one, then two then made it up to 4 or 5 I think before it was comfortable enough to hold.

Of course during all of this, we had a big bottle of water to keep nearby in case things got out of hand and if he burned himself. We thankfully only had to use it to put out the fire at the end!

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11 comments
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🙋🙋🙋👏👏🇨🇺🇨🇺🇨🇺

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Great skills for sure. I love the idea of letting him hold an ember using leaves, that's very clever and yes, burns are terrible but it sounds like the lessons was learned quickly.

That photo of the coals with the little sparks flying is great! I'm glad you guys did this, it sounds like he's going to have a full set of really great practical things he can use as he grows up.

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Thanks! He came up with using leaves all by himself it was a proud papa moment. He’s quite a thinker, that kid! The lesson around why we don’t touch hot coals was one I didn’t let him experience at first but one day when we were doing this I let him and he found out why I told him before don’t do that lol.

Yeah I loved the sparks and coals one! I love the orange glow of the fires at that stage, it’s so peaceful and relaxing. I just needed a chair to sit on lol no chairs at the fire pit sadly!

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Indeed, you should be very proud. I learned it the hard way when I was about 3 years old, my mom told me not to touch the stove. I have a scar that still reminds me but it wasn't in a controlled environment like yours was.

There's something primal and wild about being outdoors and making a fire, it's wonderful. I also love it.

I'm enjoying reading your stories, thanks for sharing them.

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What are you going to teach him next? I appreciate that you're sharing this because just like I mentioned earlier, some skills like this are not often taught at school and even as adult, we still have to learn these seemingly mundane but helpful skills.

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Thanks Mac! The fun thing about this stuff is I'm not exactly sure what I'll teach him until the moment it comes up. I have some ideas of things I would like to show him and one of the big ones is going to come in the coming weeks when he and I go out for some decent hikes. I'm going to show him how to build a fire out in the woods using rocks as a barrier around it and how to build and layer it sort of like this except the best thing to do is keep the fire off the ground in the beginning so it doesn't get put out.

Indeed I think these skills are severely lacking in today's world! I'm going to eventually get a post where I talk about the things I think of along those lines but yeah I wish more people would teach their kids these basic life lessons. Adults need this teaching too that's for sure! Lol

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One of the funny things that the little man has insisted he try and I let him, because it's best he learn, is being able to hold a little ember in his hand! He tried to touch one without any protection and immediately found out why that's not a good idea lol. I don't think it's a good idea to stop them from doing this unless they are sticking their hand into the fire or something foolish. But if they go to grab a small coal, we shouldn't stop them so they learn what it feels like and will teach them a decent life lesson about being careful!

I love this. I mean, not that he got hurt, but that you let him for the sake of learning. I do the same, some folks tend to see past the value of these lessons, but I think this is how we grow up to think independently and make good decisions; as opposed to someone who doesn’t touch the coals strictly out of forbiddance (I made up a word I think!)

Have a great weekend my dude!

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Thanks man, it's a tough lesson but pain, especially sharp instant pain, is one of the best teachers of lessons that's for sure lol. We are at a point in society where people are sheltering their kids from all pain and adversity and that's horrendous. They need to experience these things in order to properly grow as functioning and independent adults. There's obviously a lot to say in that realm like intentionally building a dependent society versus independent but that's for another post!

You have a good weekend as well man! Enjoy that beach! It’s gotten a hell of a lot colder here these past few days, dropped into the 40’s at night recently lol. It was refreshing and nice for sleeping but sad because I’m not ready hahaha.

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I feel like at least half of people out there would agree with this, like it can’t be too uncommon, right? Hahaha - I sure hope not anyway, for the sake of the species!

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He tried to touch one without any protection and immediately found out why that's not a good idea lol.

I cracked up reading this line.

I don't think it's a good idea to stop them from doing this unless
they are sticking their hand into the fire or something foolish. But if they go to grab a small coal, we shouldn't stop them so they learn what it feels like and will teach them a decent life lesson about being careful!

As much as it might sound wicked(and funny as hell😂😂), an experience with a piece of coal from the fire really teaches them lessons they won’t learn if you just told them to stop. My younger siblings are as stubborn as they come and most of the time you need to leave them find out for themselves why you’re telling them to atop doing something.

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