Home Survival Handbook - Food survival tips, best foods with longest life, how to store, can, freeze foods

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How to Build a Fire

Open Fire - as an added precaution, this type of fire can be surrounded by rocks or enclosed in a 'fire ring' if available.

  1. Place fire away from any buildings and in a place where it will not spread. This may mean that you will need to clear an area before building the fire. All dry grass, leaves and any other flammables should be removed at least 6-8 feet from the fire area. Also be aware of any over hanging branches that might catch fire. A fire can be surrounded by rocks or built 'tee-pee' style on dirt.

  2. Have all materials within reach before starting the fire. This includes tinder, kindling, logs, fuel and matches.

  3. To more easily start the fire, the tinder should be placed pointing towards the wind. This will give support to the kindling and firewood until the fire takes hold.

  4. Tender should be lighted on the windward side, shielding the small flames from the wind until they catch hold.

  5. Add additional wood to the fire slowly so as not to smother the flames.

CAUTION: All fires should be supervised at all times by an adult and never left unattended. When finished using the fire it should be extinguished by sprinkling it with water and then turning the smoldering sticks and logs over, continuing to apply water until you only have soaking wet ashes. As an added precaution these ashes can be covered with dirt.

Open Fire for Cooking - Woods to Use

Small dead branches are good to start a fire but will not generate enough heat to cook. Also, wood from evergreens or pine while they ignite quickly due to their pitch content, result in popping, soot and smoking. These aforementioned wood types can be used for tinder and kindling with standing hardwoods being preferred for cooking.

You do not want to use dead fallen trees if at all possible as they have often rotted to a certain degree or absorbed too much moisture as such will not generate enough heat.

BEST: The types of wood that make the best fire are oak, hickory, maple, apple or beech.

AVOID: Some woods to avoid as they may taint the flavor of the food are chestnut, box elder, sassafras, tulip, white elm, willow and basswood. Which ever of the woods you use be sure to have a good supply on hand before starting the fire.

Use green logs or metal grates to hold your pots for cooking or a metal stand - preferably with a swing arm - over the fire for a Dutch oven or handled pot.

Grill Cooking - Charcoal

Using a wire grill makes cooking easier and in some cases cleaner. The grill can be as simple and small as a portable one for cooking 2-4 hamburger patties or as large as a BBQ pit that can cook for dozens. Charcoal grill cooking should always be done outside and allow an extra half hour to the cooking time to get the charcoal fire hot.

While you don't need a liquid fuel to start a charcoal fire, that is the easiest - however, resist the urge to add more liquid fuel to the charcoal after you've ignited the first application as this can result in a explosion or grave bodily harm. Another excellent, safe way to cook outside is using 'stove in a can'.


  • Let the new charcoal fire heat for 15-20 minutes before attempting to cook over it.
  • Temper the fire by sprinkling water on it
  • Keep utensils, water for tempering, etc. close at hand
  • Kill the fire with water when you are finished cooking. The sun will dry out the remaining charcoal for using next time.
CAUTION: Extreme care should be used when working with any fire, and under no circumstances should a fire be left unattended or in the care of children.

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