Fire Skills

You are keen to make a fire in a wild place, but not sure where to start and how to go about it?

First of all, be prepared.

In Scotland, you always want to carry with you some kindling (dry paper, cardboard, small sticks to get the fire going), as you can’t rely on good weather (and dry burning wood).

Always have in your rucksack:

Flint and steel, or a lighter, or matches (just make sure they don’t get wet!)

Some cotton wool, old paper & cardboard (find that in your recycling bin!) is essential. If you have some small pieces of wood – those would be handy, too. Pine cones work really great, too, so get collecting when it’s dry!

Please always follow the local rules – read the signs and respect the rules!

Once you are at your location –

On the beach:

keep close to the tide line and away from dunes and long grasses.

dig a little hole in the sane, to protect your fire from wind.

use dry drift wood that you can find on the beach.

In the woods:

build a little stone circle for your fire pit, and always use firepits that are already there.

stay away from low hanging trees.

Don’t break of branches.

Use pine cones and wood that hasn’t been on the ground for too long.

Don’t use wood that local wildlife species might use as habitat (look out for worms, insects, snails, and leave them their homes!)

How to put a fire on?

Putting a fire on is a fine balance between patience and determination. It depends on so many factors, on your experience, on the moisture in the air, on the weather, etc.

If you are using flint and steel, try and find the right pressure, play around with it to simply create sparks first. Then add cotton wool (later add paper, cardboard, pine cones, kindling, bigger pieces of wood).

It’s all in the balance

Don’t suffocate your fire by building it up in the first place. Start small: paper, or dry grass, then add cardboard or pinecones only when the flame is big or healthy enough to deal with heavier stuff, etc. If the fire goes out again, start again. Be patient.

Oxygen levels

Fire needs oxygen to be successful. But premature blowing at the fire to give it air can also put it out. Be careful and experiment. If it is too windy, also make sure to protect the fire – give it some shelter.

Once you have succeeded to make your own fire outside, you will feel super proud, empowered and strong. Don’t give up if at first it seems impossible!

Enjoy cooking your food on your fire, indulge in a bit of relaxing flame gazing, or enjoy deep chats and marshmallows with friends!

Make sure to leave no trace, and take all your waste home with you! Thank you!

Light My Fire. Photo @Agnes Pachacz

The next fire lighting workshop with WanderWomen happens in October. Book here.

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