Building A Fire For Warmth

May 4, 2011


Whether you’re a hiker that inadvertently strays off course during a weekend outing, or a prepper who is faced with a life-chaning TEOTWAWKI event, unexpectedly being caught in the cold without the adequate gear is a dangerous.

In those situations, fire can literally mean the difference between life and death. Fire will not only provide the much needed heat your body requires to survive, but it will also lift your spirits as you will be doing something to better your situation.

Tips For Building A Fire For Warmth

Not all fires are created equally. Knowing how to build a good fire that can provide warmth is important.

  • Use hard wood. Most everyone who has built a fire in a fireplace knows that some types of wood burns better and hotter than others. In a survival situation, you don’t always have the luxury of being able to select prime wood, however if the possibility presents itself, choose a hardwood like hickory or oak to build your fire. Those kinds of wood will produce more heat and will burn longer.
  • Build a long fire. Rather than building a traditional circular fire, consider making your fire pit an oval or even a rectangle. You’ll be able to sleep close to the fire and the longer length will help to keep your whole body warm. Additionally you won’t have to break your firewood as much. On the downside, you’ll have to collect more of it since you’ll burn through it faster.
  • Make a heat reflector. Fire produces heat in all directions; it’s omnidirectional. Since you sit on only one side of the fire at a time, the rest of the heat is lost. Stacking up rocks or logs 2 to 3 feet from the fire opposite you, will help to reflect the heat back toward you. A simple reflector is well worth the effort as less heat is lost.
  • Make two heat reflectors. Building a second heat reflector behind you to reflect the heat that passes by you back toward you is another way to make the best use of the heat from the fire. Better yet, if the area has a natural wall of stone, build the fire 5 or 6 feet from the wall and sit between the fire and the and the wall. You’ll be surprised at how much heat will be reflected back toward you.
  • Bigger is better in the rain. To keep a fire going during rain, the bigger the fire is, the better. Use punk wood to keep it going.
As with all outdoor skills, it’s important to practice the things you learn. Simply reading about them is not enough. Practice building a fire during your next outing and see how it goes. When you need to do it in a real survival situation, you’ll have the confidence that comes with having done it before.

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12 Comments on “Building A Fire For Warmth”

  1. Warren Stiehl Says:

    good article, but how and where can one practice? Every state and national park that I know of prohibits open fires, and/or gathering firewood. Thanks


    • Joe Says:

      Good point. You have to check with local authorities (park rangers, etc) before building a fire. I’ve had good luck finding camping areas that allow open fires unless conditions are such that it would hazardous. Some may require raised fires, those that are off the ground by 12 inches or so to prevent damage to the ground below.



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