Quick Skills #10: How to Start a Fire With Birch Bark




Introduction: Quick Skills #10: How to Start a Fire With Birch Bark

About: Hi I'm Alex and I love to make stuff! I mainly work with different metals but I also love to explore new (to me) materials and dabble in woodworking, jewelry, knife making, design and many more.

Hi Instructables Community,

this week we finally move on to a new part of the Quick Skills series. In this and the following episodes we will look at methods to start a fire with natural and artificial types of tinder.

First up is the popular birch bark and in the following steps I will demonstrate the few simple steps that are required to prepare birch bark in a way so it reliably catches a spark and starts burning.

Users of the mobile app can use this link to get to the video!

Although this was planned to be an outdoor video I had to move inside due to a fire ban in our local forests. This however had some benefits in terms of lighting & videography and I hope you will like it. You can of course leave me suggestions for other types of tinder in the comments.

Don't forget to check the last step for info on my current giveaway!

Cheers Alex

Step 1: Collecting the Bark

Birch is a widespread hardwood tree in the northern hemisphere. Its bark contains oils that can be extracted and refined into birch tar/birch bark tar. The bark of all birches is characteristically marked with long, horizontal lenticels, and often separates into thin, papery plates, especially upon the paper birch. Its decided color gives the common names gray, white, black, silver and yellow birch to different species.

Whether it is for training, camping or survival you can use the bark as a reliable fire starter. The sample pictured above was collected from a live tree (A dry piece that already peeled off so no birch was harmed in the production of this Instructable) alternatively you can also collect bark from dead & fallen trees.

Step 2: Preparation Stage 1

  1. For the first stage use the tip of your knife and carefully scrape over the outside surface of the bark.
  2. This will remove the top layer of the bark and result in very fine shavings/flakes as shown in the above pictures.
  3. Since these shavings are very light you want to do this in an area that is shaded from the wind to avoid that your tinder goes with the wind.
  4. Continue until you have a small pile of shavings ready

Step 3: Second Stage

  1. Next move on to peel larger strips of bark off the bark
  2. These strips are usually very thin and flexible and can be obtained by bending larger pieces of bark until layers separate
  3. Also continue this until you have a small pile

Step 4: The Last Stage

  1. Keep the larger bark pieces from previous steps as they will become the last stage of your ignition chain.

Step 5: Ignition

I used a regular ferrocerium rod and the back of my knife for the ignition.

  1. Prepare you kindling and other fuel for your fire before you move on
  2. Place the ferro rod close to the finest shavings and start to throw sparks into them with the back of the knife (or striker).
  3. A few strikes should be enough to ignite the shavings and once you have created a small stable flame
  4. Move the second stage strips to the flame where they should quickly catch fire.
  5. Last but not least add more of the rough bark strips to enlarge the fire even further.
  6. You can now start to add kindling and fuel but don't add too much at once as you do not want to smother the flames.

Step 6: Giveaway

You can win a Leuchtturm1917 softcover notebook along with some quality sketch pencils, a few of my channel sticker and a 3-Month Instructables Pro Account.

All you have to do is to subscribe to my YouTube channel and leave me a comment at this video and include "I'd like one!" & your Instructables username. You have until the 15th June 2016 1800 GMT to participate after which I will announce the winner on my YouTube channel VLOG. (Only entries from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, USA & Canada are eligible to get the full package mailed (please understand that I pay for this myself), residents of other countries may only receive the Pro-Account).

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    6 Discussions


    4 years ago

    I like it. It really helps!

    Alex 2Q
    Alex 2Q

    Reply 4 years ago



    4 years ago

    this is really helpful

    Alex 2Q
    Alex 2Q

    Reply 4 years ago

    Thanks mate!