How To Build A Campfire With Wet Wood Using Only Natural Materials! (Part 3: Tinder)





Tinder is absolutely critical in terms of starting a fire, yet somehow it is often the most overlooked and neglected variable in the entire fire-starting equation. Quality tinder is what allows you to take the tiniest spark and coax it into an actual flame. Tinder is especially critical if you are relying on a less forgiving fire starter like a fire steel or primitive fire making method.

When I say “tinder”, I want you to think
“fine and fluffy” like a cotton ball if at all possible. The fine fibers of natural materials like cattail dander, milkweed fluff, etc. This will of course depend on what is available in your region. 


If you can’t find any fine and fluffy materials like this readily available, then your next option is to
make it yourself! It’s not difficult to process your own tinder, but practicing this skill absolutely helps you get better results.

Look for materials that are slightly more coarse but as dry as possible. Fine dead grasses and the long slender leaves of other plants/trees should do the trick. Pine needles can work mixed in with your tinder as they have their own unique advantage in that they contain pine sap which helps on another front (more on this later). You are going to want to “process” these coarser grasses, leaves, etc. to break them down and make them even finer to reduce their surface area and make them more fibrous so these finer strands will catch a spark more easily. You can easily do this by spending a few minutes wadding them up, rolling them around in your hands, mashing them or even rubbing them between two flat rocks like a mortar and pestle. You simply want to work those coarser fibers and break them up into finer ones. 

In extremely wet/humid conditions, it is absolutely critical that you gather (and process if necessary) your tinder materials FIRST and then carry them with you in a pocket to warm and dry them as much as possible while you commence with other steps in this process.
Put your tinder materials in a pocket close to your body to use your body heat to help dry them out even further. Choose a pocket that is least likely to get wet from sweat or the elements and located in a garment made of fabrics that wick away moisture (like wool) if possible. You may need to do this both before AND after you process your tinder depending on the conditions. But the goal here is to get the finest and driest tinder possible so that it will ignite with even a tiny spark. And don’t skimp on this material. You want at least a good baseball size amount of this stuff if not more.


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Author: Josh Nieten

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