Many of us have been camping in a woodland and watched as the sun starts to dip over the horizon.
At that moment, you can look down and take comfort in the fact that the fire before you is not only providing you with light, but heat for the chilly night ahead.
Fires can be finicky to build, but once they are done, they feel as comforting on a chilly evening as a childhood blanket given to you by your parents. However, there is one problem with this fire.
It needs to keep going. A fire going out during the night when you are camping or during a power outage is the worst possible feeling.
Even worse is when you are trying to keep it going, but it continues to decline in size and heat. So, what can you do? What can be done to keep a fire going?
In this article, we seek to answer this question and detail exactly how to keep a fire going.
Reasons Your Fire Is Going Out
If you notice that the fire is starting to die out, then you need to act quickly. You don't want the whole thing to burn out before you get back to camp.
If you do, you might find yourself in a situation where you're cold, wet and the night is coming.
Firstly, it could be because of the weather conditions. If it's windy outside, then even if you have built a good-sized fire, it will start to die out. The fire may also go out due to lack of fuel.
This includes not just logs or large sticks, but dead twigs, dry grasses, leaves and pine needles, which are needed for quick kindling and tinder.
These materials need to be replenished regularly so that the fire can continue burning. Also, it goes without saying that you should never leave any flammable material lying around.
Once lit, these materials must be kept away from the fire at all times.
Another reason why fires may go out is because of the wind direction. When building a fire, you need to ensure that it faces the right way.
For instance, if there is a breeze blowing straight towards you, then you need to have a barrier between your fire and the wind's direction.
If there is no breeze, then you shouldn't have issues with the fire, but you should still take precautions in case the wind picks up. As long as the fire is facing the right way, it shouldn't matter which way the wind blows.
If you're unsure about the wind direction, then you can always use some form of a compass to help you.
There are many types of compasses available, including digital ones which have additional features and, in some of them, this includes wind direction.
Another way is to wet the end of a finger and hold it up to the wind. The area of the finger that feels the wind or gets cold is the direction the wind is coming from.
Another reason why fires may go off is because of its location. Fires tend to burn hot and bright on the ground, but burn out quicker because the ground is cold.
Sometimes, you may want to put your fire higher up so that it has more space to burn. In this case, you'll need to make sure that you place it on something sturdy, like logs or rocks.
However, you only need it an inch or cm above the ground, so no need to get creative.
Finally, another reason why fires may go down is because of its size. Sometimes, smaller fires are easier to maintain than larger ones. Larger fires require constant attention.
Not only does this mean that you have to constantly check for embers and ash, but it also means that you'll have to continuously stir the fire.
In order to avoid having to do this, you may want to try putting the fire under an insulated cover. This will prevent the fire from getting too big, while still allowing you to heat food.
How To Keep Your Fire Going
A lot of the ways to keep a fire going is by preparing the fire properly in the first place. In a sense, you are creating the fire, and so you need to make sure it has the right tools to survive the duration of its need.
When building a fire, you'll need to follow certain guidelines. First, you'll need to ensure that you have enough fuel. If you don't, then the fire may not last very long. It will most likely burn out before you return to camp.
So, you'll need to collect fuel ahead of time. You can do this by collecting small branches, leaves, moss or anything else that burns easily.
A lot of people use matches to light the fire and kindling to encourage it to grow, but you can get the job done with a lighter and lighter fluid. However, you'll need to be careful with how much you use.
But, if you overfill your lighter container, then you risk setting the container alight when you spray it. This is especially true if the container isn't well ventilated, and you spray the fluid right next to the fire.
After you've collected your fuel, you'll need to build the fire. To do this, you'll first need to start a spark. By doing this, you'll be able to get a good flame going.
Then, once you have a decent sized blaze, you should be able to light the rest of the fuel. Once everything's burning, you'll need to regularly check on the fire so that you can take care of any problems.
The position and size of the fire is incredibly important to keep it burning. You need to start small and work your way up, using tinder and kindling before big logs.
When the fire starts to get small, you need to adjust your expectations as well, there is no point putting a big log on a dying fire. Instead, add some more kindling until your blaze is bigger and then add the logs.
However, you'll also need to be aware of what happens to the fire during bad weather conditions. During rainstorms, fires can go out easily, not just from the visible water but the damp in the air.
On the converse of this, during dry seasons, fire can spread very rapidly if not contained and could potentially be life-threatening. These two scenarios can prove dangerous from different standpoints.
As such, you need to make sure your fire is not only contained to stop spread, but protected from winds and rains, to keep it lit. To do this, surround your fire with a ring of rocks and clear away any brush near it.
Then, have something hang over it to protect it from the rain, either a sheet or some woven tree branches. Lastly, if it gets too windy, stack some rocks on the side of the fire where the wind is coming from.
If you notice that your fire is starting to spread, then you'll need to get it under control immediately. Forest fires are not a laughing matter.
Another reason you may be having problems keeping your fire lit is that it is a home fire – or a fireplace – and the chimney or smoke stack you are using to vent it is dirty.
Fires need oxygen to survive, and a poorly ventilated room means that a fire will die quickly.
Finally, fuel. If you are using the wrong kind of wood, then your fire won't last as long. Most newly cut trees or fallen logs are full of moisture. Older wood pieces are much better for fires, as they would have dried over time.
So, having a designated place for firewood that will dry it is a must.
What Kind Of Firewood Should I Choose?
There are several kinds of firewood available. The type you pick depends on whether you are using it as charcoal, or as a stove. For charcoal, it doesn't really matter which kind you buy.
You just need to ensure that it burns cleanly without producing smoke. For stoves, however, you'll need to select carefully. Different woods produce different amounts of heat per unit weight.
For instance, hardwoods such as oak give off more heat than softwoods. On top of that, some woods are better at keeping a fire going for longer periods of time.
The best way to find out which kind of firewood is right for you is to experiment. Start with one kind of wood and see how it performs. Afterward, switch to another kind of wood and repeat the process.
Keep in mind that you won't know exactly what kind of wood is right unless you experiment. Also remember that you'll need to collect new supplies when they run low.
Fires are difficult and fussy children who refuse to stay lit no matter how much love and attention you give them.
However, if you follow the rules in this guide, you should reduce how many problems you have with your fire, leading to a comfortable and cozy night.