Lighting fires the forest school way!
I have learnt alot in my forest school training. Who knew that you could use pixie pillows (cotton wool), dragons snot (vaseline, although this wasn’t allowed during my assessment) and dragons breath (from a fire steel). But, what I have really learnt is how to make a good controlled fire, using natural materials. Most importantly I have leant how to do this safely and remove it leaving little impact on the woodlands.
King Alfred Cakes are a fungus that is found in woods, often growing on tree stumps and rotting wood. Now I know what I am looking for I actually see them all the time!
I have discovered that their are different types of silver birch. Some have this wonderful ‘paper’ that is great for fire lighting.
I have found it is important to make sure you are prepared with lots of wood in different sizes. Here I had some dried nettles which lit really well. I then had some matchstick thickness sticks. Next, pencil thickness sticks. Followed by finger thick sticks. I think you get the idea! But they were all laid out and ready for when I needed them. I also had some more birch bark which really burns well.
First you need to prepare the ground. Ensure that the soil is suitable for lighting fires, peat for example can catch on fire. Find some larger logs to make a surround to help contain the fire. Next use so sticks about thumb thickness and create a waffle effect at the bottom. This will help ensure that the air can get to the fire.
In this video you will see that I have used Pixie pillows (aka cotton wool), birch paper and king alfred cakes as the base of my fire. I have then added some dried nettles in a rough tepee shape to form the base.
Once it got going I then added the sticks, gradually getting thicker, in a teepee shape to help the air get to the fire. The key here is to not add the thick sticks too quickly.
When you want to put the fire out the first thing to do is break the fire up using a stick.
Once the fire has died down you can then dowse the fire with a bit of water.
Next, you can remove the surround and any big bits of debris.
Finally, when you are sure the site is fully cooled, cover the site with leaf litter so you can’t tell the fire has been there.
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