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Thread: Fire building materials -Science Lab

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    Default Fire building materials -Science Lab

    I have to complete a science lab of my own making and I would like to determine which local trees, shrubs, etc are the best to use for constructing a fire as well as which are the worst. I have to actually conduct this experiment and I plan on using both primitive (bow drill method) and traditional (matches, lighter, etc.) What are your experiences both good and bad while building fires? If any of you have experienced survival situations where building a fire was essential, I would love to hear it!
    Don

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    Birch bark.

    The one saving factor in about any fire making scene.

    Once you have a flame of any size established, birch bark is the "gasoline" to make it bigger.

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Spanish moss...

    the stuff that hangs down, usually from spruce trees - gray colored - will flame with a spark.

    Some spanish moss, bit of Ak Greybear's birch bark - then it's time for wood.

    Good luck with your project.

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    The dead twigs off the bottom of black spruce make a good next step after your old mans beard and birch bark. Look for standing dead wood - it will be dry. Black spruce works well. Birch will rot inside it's bark if it's laying down.

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    Member 2jumpersplease's Avatar
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    Good - Standing dead wood
    - Lichens hanging under tree canopy
    - Dead lower branches of spruce trees
    - Birch Bark
    - if no dead wood is available green Alder burns well once a fire is started and most other green wood will burn if you split it small enough
    - things that are light and crunchy in general

    Good when dry -Grass
    -Ground lichens

    Bad - anything on wet ground
    - Tamarack might look dead but be alive the bark will have green under it
    - Anything big, heavy, or wet

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    Member Michael's Avatar
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    When out in the woods (or your back yard) notice a black fungus like growth on Birch trees. It is called Chaga or Tinder Fungus. It grows where the tree has been injured, not every tree has it. You will find it amazingly easy to light, even with air pressure. Boyles law says that compressed gas gets hot. Google 'fire piston' and see what it is about.

    Good luck on your project.

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    I've found that road flares and sawdust soaked in diesel fuel work the best. Doesn't really matter what kind of tree the sawdust came from.

    But seriously... I think the first division will be the tree type. Evergreens will beat out most conifers for fire starting, with the notable exception already provided (birch bark). Dead & dry will beat green & wet. I usually just scrape up a couple handfuls of the small dead branches at the bottom of any spruce tree and use that for the tinder. Top it off with some squaw wood (that's probably a politically incorrect term these days, but it's the larger broken branches found on the forest floor) add a match and next thing you know, you've got fire.

    You'll find out that the over glorified string-bow contraption is extremely difficult to build and operate. Other "traditional" methods are equally difficult, which is why stocking up on modern methods and storing plenty of them in your gear is essential.

    Good luck with your project and please post your results when you finish. I'm sure we'd all be interested in how it turns out.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

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    Dry, dead spruce makes the best tinder and green spruce boughs will burn just fine once the tinder bed is going. If there's spruce around, you can easily build a fire.

    Want some easy to see evidence? Look at the aftermath of the Miller's Reach fire. The spruce burned to twigs, even the healthy green trees. The intermingled birch trees are still alive and doing well, mostly undamaged by the fire. That observation should help answer the original question.

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    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    The best wood for starting a fire is spruce. In most wilderness areas there is dead branches at the base of the trees.

    The worst wood is aspen and cotton wood. I have found that these woods tend to smolder and not burn well.

    What I like to do is mix spruce with birch after you get the small squwa wood burning. Spruce lights easier and burns hot but it also burns faster. so tossing some birch on a spruce fire will give it longevity

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    Member KRS's Avatar
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    Must haves on your person:

    fire striker (ferroconium rod) and vaseline coated cotton balls

    Been there, needed them (in SE AK).

    KRS

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    When out in the woods (or your back yard) notice a black fungus like growth on Birch trees. It is called Chaga or Tinder Fungus. It grows where the tree has been injured, not every tree has it. You will find it amazingly easy to light, even with air pressure. Boyles law says that compressed gas gets hot. Google 'fire piston' and see what it is about.

    Good luck on your project.

    Chaga is good stuff. Got a few fire pistons myself. From my reading, it is what inspired the combustion engine. Compressed air equals fire. Amazing. And it works. Pacific islanders discovered this a long time ago. Likely by accident while cramming a rod through bamboo to hollow it out. Big magic to them I am sure. I remember reading some fascinating stuff on fire pistons. It was seen by an inventor on a voyage in the area, thought on, and in a few years, we had our first combustion engine. Coincidence? I doubt it. Had Pokapeechoo not crammed the rod in the bamboo, I would not have my Harley? Dang. thanks Pookie

    If you are in a lab, don't forget to play with the potassium permanganate and glycerin Big fire!

    For modern stuff, this is the best I have found...

    http://www.ultimatesurvival.com/civilian.cfm

    Look at the "wetfire" and ferrocium rods (two styles). Get orange so you won't loose it. Amazes me they even make them in black. It won't look cool if you can't find it. The wetfire is amazing. Burns in water. Done it. Small white cubes about the size of your distal thumb digit. Just takes a piece of it to start a fire. Amazing stuff. I think Cabelas is selling it now.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    Hey did you ever preform any tests? I'd be interested to hear what your results were.

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    Thanks guys. Here are my reuslts.
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Member moose-head's Avatar
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    Awsome report

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    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    Cool thanks!

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Before anyone calls BS please go to the cupboard and get a fritos corn chip and light it.Just a couple of these in your match safe.

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    Member SoggyMountain's Avatar
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    Dryer lint is free, weighs almost nothing, and, lights right up. I have a few boxes full!
    "...just because we didn't agree with you doesn't mean we didn't have good discussion. It just means you missed it." -JMG-

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    I carry a Zippo, in a small bag with a small bottle of fuel. I carry spare flints in the Zippo itsself.I dont smoke, so I dont keep it "handy", but in my jacket pocket all the time.
    If its wet, I just roll the striker untill I get spark.
    You can use it as a candle or warm small things...you have about 15 minutes to use to get a fire started, and its near wind proof.

    In winter, Ive had disasterous results with Bic's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by strangerinastrangeland View Post
    I carry a Zippo, in a small bag with a small bottle of fuel. I carry spare flints in the Zippo itsself.I dont smoke, so I dont keep it "handy", but in my jacket pocket all the time.
    If its wet, I just roll the striker untill I get spark.
    You can use it as a candle or warm small things...you have about 15 minutes to use to get a fire started, and its near wind proof.

    In winter, Ive had disasterous results with Bic's.
    What happens to bic? I"m intrested?

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    Bics( as in the disposable type lighters) fluids get cold and dont have pressure. Get one wet, and its hard to dry, and the cold makes them brittle and easy to break...seen that ALOT of times.
    Its one thing to have one in your pocklet to spark a light, its different when you, the bic and everything else is cold wet and blowing.
    Its hard to use your hands when you are really col....d. you can light a Zippo by rolling it across your thigh, no thumb lever to hold, etc., jsut hold the Zippo, and apply flames to what your burning, and have doused in a bit of fluid.
    Cant mess around getting a fire started.

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