Tinder = Pencil lead size
Kindling = Pencil size
Fuel = Thumb size
1. Always build your fire on a platform. A platform is a flat rock or group of rocks which will make a flat or semi flat surface. It is best to have the top surface of the platform elevated above the ground by about 3 inches. This allows air to travel into the base of the fire. Don’t use rocks that are wet and porous. These rocks will hold water and when heated the water will turn into steam and rapidly expand. When this steam rapid expansion takes place it will cause the rock to explode which could severely injure someone near the fire. Another item that can be used for a platform is green wood the size of your wrist stacked next to each other creating a flat surface to build your fire on.
2. Gather wood the size of pencil lead. DO NOT PLACE THIS ON THE GROUND! This size of wood known as tinder is so small it will absorb water molecules from the ground like a wick. This will make it more difficult to successfully start your fire the first time.
Strip off some of the bark/skin of the tinder which your finger nails exposing the wood of the tinder.
The amount of tinder gathered and placed on the platform should fill your hands when your hands are placed together with our palms facing up and open.
3. After the tinder is placed on the platform, stack kindling in a teepee shape over the tinder. Kindling is the size of a pencil.
4. Once the kindling is in place put your fuel which are sticks the size of your thumb stacked in a teepee fashion over the kindling.
5. Light the tinder with flame or spark. Gently blow on the tinder to help get it started by supplying it with ample air supply.
Excellent products to aid in fire building:
All these items are part of your GSI Wilderness Stay Alive kit.
1. The GSI Wilderness Kit Fire Pad. It burns up to 10 inches tall and two inches across for 7-9 minutes. Just tear the pad halfway to expose the fibers and light the pad with your GSI matches or GSI fire striker. If there is difficulty in lighting the pad, just smear petroleum jelly on it from your GSI Wilderness Stay Alive kit or use some fibers from your GSI Fire Rope placed under the fire pad.
2. The GSI Wilderness Kit Fire Rope. This unique cord separates into three separate pieces. After separating a piece, pull apart slightly to expose the strands of fibers. This makes an excellent fire starter. Simply light with a match of your GSI Fire Striker and add tinder (see instructions for fire building).
3. Multiple use cotton balls. The cotton balls are impregnated with petroleum jelly, which makes an excellent fire starter. When lit, the cotton ball burns for approximately four to five minutes to aid in starting a larger fire.
Images: The fire stack below is known as an upside down fire. This works as a fire platform and the hot coals filter down to the wood below which creates excellent air flow
The next image shows a fire reflector in front and behind. Once your shelter and fire are done, build your reflector unless you have time during the day to construct your reflector prior to building your fire. Your reflector does not need to be fancy like the image shows, just an object to reflect heat back to yourself.
The third image is the Dakota Fire Hole used primarily for high wind situations. I do not recommend this fire for evasion, even though many books recommend it for evasion.
Click on images below to enlarge and read captions