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  • Using Birch Bark as Tinder

    Posted on March 20th, 2021 admin No comments

    One of my favorite sources of natural tinder is the paper-like bark of the white birch, also called silver birch or paper birch (Betula papyrifera).

    • Birch bark contains a combustible oil and will burn fiercely even when wet.
    • Peel the loose bark – do not cut into the tree.

    From years of habit, whether on a shore-break or while hiking through the woods, I tend to collect a pocket full of loose bark, peeling off a bit whenever I pass a birch tree. Even if I’m planning to cook over my ultralight butane stove, there are times when a fire is essential, and, I’ve always got tinder ready to go.

    Prepping the Site

    This method does not apply to ‘primitive’ fire-starters such as flint-and-steel or firebow, but only to the use of match or lighter. Nor is this the only method; it is simply one that I have found gives good success.

    1. Collect a sufficient quantity of tinder, kindling, and fuel. “Sufficient” means a double handful of tinder, a large handful of pencil-thick kindling, a double handful of thumb-thick kindling, and an armload of fuel.
    2. Ensure that the fire is built in a safe area, cleared of combustibles.
    3. If there is a wind, leave the upwind side open. This is where the ignition flame will be applied.
    What is Birch Bark Extract and is it Good for Hair? | Herbal Essences
    A thick piece of bark. Shred for best results.

    Starting the fire

    1. Shred the bark if necessary. It is possible to leave thicker birch bark as a sheet and it will work fine, but shredding and crumpling the bark ensures a faster “catch” and generates more initial flame. If you’ve gathered thinner “paper” this step is not necessary.
    2. Prepare a “birds nest” of tinder and place it in the center of the fire area. This is a loose bundle of shredded bark the size of doubled fists. You can use less, but a double fistful gives greater chance of success. I prefer to have this :”nest” resting between two wrist-sized rocks or sticks placed with an open side upwind.
    3. On top of the tinder, stack a handful of the thinnest kindling. Take care not to compact the tinder.
    4. Have the thicker kindling nearby.
    5. Light the match or lighter and apply it to the base of the tinder on the upwind side (the flame will burn upwards and downwind).
    6. Once the kindling “takes”, begin adding the thicker kindling. Place it onto the fire, don’t drop it.
    7. Add fuel gently.

    Using natural tinder and knowing how to effectively collect and ignite it can be a life-saver for those times when you have a lighter or a match but don’t have a a fire-starter. Because birch bark burns even when wet, this can be a life-saver in an emergency.

    Note: A version of this article appeared on suite101.com when it was a content site; date unknown.

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