Please consider supporting our efforts.


Fire Building

Friday, 05 July 2013 00:52 Written by  Craug Caudill

As you build up your survival kit, you will probably want to add a firesteel ferrocerium rod. These are usually referred to as ferro rods and are incredibly useful for starting fires. Before you can use your new ferro rod, you need to take special note of the coating placed on the rod. The black coating is a protective barrier to prevent the rod from throwing sparks during shipping. The coating is fairly simple to remove.

Use your scraper that is typically attached to the rod for sparking purposes and rub the coating off. When you see shiny metallic material, that is the ferro rod. Now, you are ready to practice with your new fire starting gear.

You can get a good visual instruction on how to use the ferro rod to start a fire. One of the key things you must remember when using the rod to start a fire is it must be held at a steep angle. Another valuable tip is to hold your scraper steady and pull the rod back against it. This will help you direct your sparks a little better.


On this particular ferro rod setup, you will see a whistle is attached as well. This is extremely helpful in the event you are lost. It is wiser to use a whistle to draw attention to yourself rather than trying to yell. It is less taxing energy wise. These two tools attached together make it extremely easy for you to keep everything you need in one place.

Making a Good Tinder Bundle

A fire is an incredibly valuable tool to have in a survival situation. It can keep you warm, cook food, dry out wet clothes and so much more. Knowing how to start a fire without the traditional things like a lighter or matches is a skill almost every person who is interested in survival training will learn. One of the key elements to starting a fire is a tinder bundle. It isn’t a simple gathering of dry grass and sticks. There is some actual technique involved and you will need to know the trick to creating a tinder bundle that will help you achieve a life-saving fire.

In this post, we will talk about how to go about starting a fire with a tinder bundle. Before you start trying to make the tinder bundle, you will need to get the rest of your fire ingredients in order.

The 3 main parts of a fire are as follows:

Oxygen - This could come from you or from the wind. Keep in mind, blowing too hard or trying to start a fire in an area where the wind is blowing really hard will end up snuffing out the flame. A little goes a long way.

Ignition - Ferro rods, matches, lighters, a spark are all sources of ignition.

Fuel - Fuel for the fire must be dry! Never pick up any sticks, grass or other fuel directly off the ground. It will be damp and will be extremely difficult to burn. Small twigs with plenty of little feathers are perfect for those first few flames.

Making the Tinder Bundle

You will need to gather some dry material. In the video, tall grass makes an excellent tinder bundle. However, you can use dry, hard tree bark like the kind on a cedar tree to make a tinder bundle. This can be plucked with your hands. Bunch the grass into what looks like a bird nest. Don’t make the bundle too tight. This will block the air and prevent ignition.


After you have created a bird’s nest structure, you need fine material like crushed grass or the inside of tree bark. The trick is to have material that has plenty of edges that will catch the flames. Take the fine material and place it in the center of your tinder bundle.

Making a tinder bundle takes skill. The only way you can develop that skill is by getting out there and practicing. Learn what materials you can use for a tinder bundle by experimenting.

Nurturing a Tinder Bundle Into Flame

Once you have your tinder bundle, it is time to light it up. Those first few sparks from your Ferro rod, matches or bow drill coal are extremely sensitive. You will need to nurture those sparks to become the fire you are shooting for.

Your tinder bundle is the first fuel source you need to achieve a fire. In this video, we used a Ferro rod. It took off after just a couple of tries. Please keep in mind, this was done in prime conditions with excellent materials. In a survival situation, things may not be quite so perfect. Make sure you have everything you need to nurture those first few sparks into a beautiful fire.

Once you have landed a spark in your tinder bundle, you need to carefully get the air flowing in order to fan the flames. This can be tricky. You don’t want too much oxygen, but you can’t have too little. One way to circulate the air is to gently sway the entire bundle. When you see smoke really starting to accumulate, blow on the area. Smoke is a good thing. The more smoke, the better.


This incredibly useful skill takes a lot of practice. You will need to learn for yourself how much oxygen you need to take that one spark into a flame. The only way you will develop this skill is by practicing often. Hone the skill before you actually need it to survive.

Making Firesticks

As you go learn the process of starting a fire with a spark and a tinder bundle, you need to know the next step that will get you to a crackling fire that you can cook food with or stay warm. Your next step is to make fire sticks. You probably had no idea fire making was so intricate. Fire sticks are what you will use after your tinder bundle has begun to flame up. The tinder bundle will burn out fairly quick. It will be too small to start any larger logs or sticks on fire.

You can make the sticks with just a knife and some sticks you have collected. Remember, never get any of your fire starting materials off the ground--they will be damp and hamper your ability to get a fire going.You will need a handful of sticks, I would say about 7 to 10. You will want to make these before you start trying to ignite your tinder bundle. Once that first spark is thrown, things will happen fast. Place your fire sticks near the area you will be lighting the tinder bundle.

To make a fire stick, gather dry twigs. Use a knife to feather the edges down the length of the stick. You can watch this video to see exactly how to do this. You want plenty of little pieces of the twig sticking out and “catching” the flame. You could certainly try and start a fire by using several twigs that are not feathered, but you run the risk of snuffing out that little flame you worked so hard to create.


The first few minutes of a fire’s life are crucial. Consider yourself a guardian of the fire. You will have to provide all of its needs and nurture it to life. All of your fire building materials should be nearby so you never have to leave it alone in those first moments of life. It will need you every step of the way to become a healthy, warm fire that will end up keeping you warm and alive.

Craig Caudill is an outdoors enthusiast who blogs and vlogs about survival fire starting for Dan’s Depot. He is also the chief instructor of his Nature Reliance School.

Last modified on Friday, 05 July 2013 01:09
Rate this item
(3 votes)
More in this category: « Making & Using Bow Drills
Login to post comments
You are here:   HomeSurviveDan's Depot Articles