First of all this is my first instructible, so please any help is greatly appreciated. English is my native language, but I'm not very good with is so please any mistakes please tell me, and I don't own a camera, so all pictures are off Google.com and are generalizations, and any questions just ask i'm here to help you. so enjoy :)
Step 1: The Wood
Fire has 3 main parts Tinder, Kindling, and Feul All 3 of which have special parameters that you will want them to meet. You don't want a quarter of a stump for Tinder, it just ain't gonna work. so the Kick-start for the whole process;
The tinder, the tinder must be easily lit via lighter, match, or spark. and MUST REMAIN 100% DRY! very very very important, later in the guide, I will show you my personal favorite tinder/firestarter cheap and easy to make just need alittle know-how Dry pine needles, Dry grass, Pine tree sap/pine cones these are just a few do alitle research and find what works best in your area, the internet knows alot of stuff about where you life, or talk to a local Boyscout Leader, very good sources of information.
The kindling, anything small than a pencil is a good refrence, the small dead twigs on the ground to the thinner branches on teh tree, as long as they are dry also, again very important.
The Feul:Now the feul is very widely spaced out, so I will refer to it as light, Medium, and heavy feul for simplisitys sake. Light feul is anything the size of ur finger if u have big hands, if you don't about the size of a big pencil, and not the foot long kind either, Medium feul is wood about the size of your wrist if you small boned, and about the size of half your wrist if your big boned, and heavy fuel is anything bigger than above mentioned, as you can see everything above is measured to your body, because no where you go you always have your body with you. and a good rule of thumb for anything of the above mentioned; if you think you have enough, triple that amount and you will always have enough.
Step 2: The Setup
Now the way you set your fire up is critical if it's gonna be a success or a failure, here is a couple of styles NOTE: PLEASE build your fire set up on dirt or a area cleared of all grass and other burnables for ATLEAST 5 feet around your fire, waking up to a forest fire is NOT a pretty way to start a day. The BSA approved way is to take a shovel and scoop the the grass up just under it, and lay it aside so you can rebuild the burn scar the fire left.
This is probably the most famous style, almost everyone has heard of it, almost everyone has seen it, probably cause everyone who has had a elementary school class as see or heard of the Plains Indians famous teepee homes. Basically all you do is set your tinder on a area clear of all burnables (leaves, grass, ect.) and then place 3 sticks (light feul) around it and make them stand up by leaning them on each other. then surround the main standing sturucture in kindling till it surrounded but leave a small hole so air can get in and you can light your fire. Place a lit match or flame in the tinder bundle to start the fire, if your using a more primitive method, make a small flame outside of the teepee and then move it under the tinder bundle inside so it won't catch as best as you can. This give a good simple fire, although there are better methods for a heat and light, but this is still a very solid style.
This is my favored because it burns down into coals you can cook over and bank for later very nicely. Any kid that has made a linkin' logs cabin can make this: first put your tinder down and place 2 kindling sticks to oppisite sides of the tinder bundle, then put 2 more the other way oppisite of each other, and then the other way nad continue till it's about 5-7 sticks high, trying ot keep the top rounded and as close to the tinder as possible cover the top with kindling, slide a match or a small stick covered in sap, that is on fire under the 2nd layer of sticks and catch the tinder on fire and the resulting flame will catch the kindling on fire and work it's way up the kindling till the wood catches then start carefully adding light feul then as it catches up and gets bigger add bigger and bigger peices of wood too it, My personal favorite fire starting method.
These are only a couple of popular ones there are several hundred you can do. Some are specialized for a certain area such as a cold region or a dry regoin. A good book of diffrent fire making styles, or just a local outdoors man can help you alot about how to make a good fire.
Step 3: Tending the Fire
Ok, you have put the match into the tender and now your dedicated to the task at hand, you must feed the fire kindling till it can catch the feul on fire, give air when it needs it. A big mistake is OVER tending the fire, if it's burning good with plenty of feul above it and starting to catch do not touch it, a wrongly place piece of feul can literally make a good built fire and destroy it just like that. All that hard work gone because of stupidity. So just tweek the fire when you have to and when the feul catches add med. fuel to it till it catches and then add a chuck of heavy feul to sustane that fire and let it start burning.
Step 4: Egg Carton Firestarters
These things have saved my butt alot on damp or wet camping trips all they are are easy fast firestarter that you add in with your tinder to make it more effective. What you need is:
-SawDust, Shredded Paper, Old rags, even dryer lint will work (so i hear don't hold me to it)
-PAPER egg carton
-8 or 12 hour candles (or it your a candle maker just mix up paraffin wax and another substance, I use vaseline, to get a candle wax)
-Double Boiler (with a lid for fires)
-Nearby (A)BC fire extinguisher if things get out of hand
Melt down the candles or wax in the double boiler, if your using a candle, split the candle and remove the wick. place your median of choice, mine is saw dust, into the egg cartons, (if your using candles you can cut the wick to go to the bottom of the egg holder and make a wick so you can light the starter alittle easier, just cut it till it's about 1/2 in. above the saw dust, this is just a experiment and I am going ot test it out if anyone tries please tell me your results) then pour the wax over the median SLOWLY let is bubble down, after they are full, close and leave in a secluded place, for a day or two till they are cooled down And Voila! fire starters that will start with just one match, and if you get better at making a fire, and you acn make a fire with one match any way this makes the entire process that much easier :)
Step 5: Wrap Up!
I hope you have learned alot! Just remember feed a fire slow, make a solid and reliable setup, keep ur tinder dry, and remember talk to locals if you new to the area they will know more than you do about the local area, and if your going camping never trespass. These are just a few simple guidelines to follow, remember always be prepared, and as my scout master puts it, expect the best, but prepare for the worse, learn to live by this and you will never be caught off guard. :) any questions please ask and any comments please all are welcome. I hope you have enjoyed and happy camping!