How to Build a Fire: Fire Survival

For some context, we discussed the fire survival basics over here. In this post we are going to discuss ways generally for how to build a fire. To shortly recap our fire survival basics post, a fire runs mainly on three things: air (oxygen), fuel, and heat.

Fire-building can be done in several ways and the methods you will use ought to depend on the situation.

How to build a fire: Fire Survival: Tepee/Tipi Fire

For the tepee or tipi fire, you are to arrange and shape tinder (compact) and a few kindling sticks (around the tinder) into a tepee or cone-like figure. To light, start with the center. As it burns away, more of the outside fuel (sticks) will fall inward – increasing the fire. This falling of fuel or wood can be also considered a downside as it can possibly destabilize your tepee – this is especially true with bigger tepee fires. One last thing also is that even when made with wet wood, this method still will work.

How to build a fire: Fire Survival: Lean-to Fire

For the lean-to fire, you are to plant a stick or a thick piece of kindling into the ground at 30-degrees. Make sure also to have it pointing towards the wind’s direction. Place then some tinder beneath this lean-to stick. For kindling, lean pieces of them against the stick.  Start by lighting the tinder. Just add more kindling when it catches fire from the tinder.

How to build a fire: Fire Survival: Cross-ditch Fire

For the cross-ditch fire, you are to scratch a cross of about 30 centimeters in the ground. Dig then that 7 and a half centimeters deep. Place a lot of tinder at the center of it. Above that, build a kindling pyramid. The ditch will allow air to sweep underneath the tinder to provide a helpful draft.

How to build a fire: Fire Survival: Pyramid Fire

For the pyramid fire, you are to place two small branches or logs on the ground parallel to each other.  Have a solid layer of branches or logs across these. Do this three or more layers more. Each layer should go on top smaller than and at a right angle the layer below it. Start the fire by the top. Good thing about this fire is that the fire burns downward constant – needing less attention to manage unlike, say, the tepee fire.

Do note that there are many more methods out there for you to learn and master.


Know now how to build a fire? Learn next then how to start fires the primitive way.

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