Guerilla Survival

Guerilla Survival

Thursday 12 November 2020


The first step in fire-lighting is to collect Tinder, Kindling and Logs of various sizes before attempting to light a fire. These should be stacked up ready for use. Try to get the driest materials available. 

Hint - Where possible collect tinder when the weather has been dry for a while, or collect and dry yourself. Take some of this in a Tinder-Pouch with you so that it is ready for use; it should be dry enough to take a spark that will light immediately. 


Tinder - 

  • Very thin slivers of Birch Bark.
  • Old Man's Beard.
  • Rosebay Willow Herb seeds (at top of plant).
  • Thistle (not quite so reliable and takes more of a spark).

Kindling - When it is wet try slicing slivers of wood from small sticks; birch, pine and fir are good to start with.

Logs - Softwoods burn quickly and hardwoods fast; ash burns both green and seasoned. Sweet Chestnut is good.

Place the tinder - here birch bark and dry bracken - on small sticks which keeps the fire off wet ground, and also allows air to circulate around making for a quicker and more powerful fire.

Here I have 'cheated' by using a fire-lighter and cotton wool (make sure you use the flammable stuff because some does not light with a spark). Birch Bark is also used because it lights even when wet. This fire was lit in the snow some years ago, when we had more snow here.

I have used a wigwam-fire because this burns very quickly at the start; then place the logs across each other, making a stack with logs one way, then the other way. This keeps burning longer and is good for cooking over.

Two metal rods were found in the woodlands and used over two large logs placed far enough apart not to burn. A mess tin cooked baked beans, whilst sausages were cooked on a metal grid. A fishing-shelter was used as a quick shelter from the weather. 

A fire wind-brake can be made with logs stacked one upon the other; he we used upright stakes tied together at the top. There are varying opinions as to whether a wind-brake does create better heat reflected from it, but it does stop the wind blowing the smoke into a shelter nevertheless. One tip is to carry an emergency blanket (foil) and drape this over the wind-brake, which does reflect heat due to the material. 

Logs placed one way, then the other, create a fire where air can circulate easily and burns quickly. This can be used for cooking or for warming oneself, placing bigger logs on the top if you are using the fire for a long time. You can also dig a pit into which the fire is placed and lit; when done with it is easy to fill with water to put the fire out completely, and to re-cover with soil. 

This is how I prepare the tinder, kindling and the smaller sticks, stacking them in order of use. The best stuff to collect is that which has broken off and lies in tree-branches, or branches that are well off the ground, breaking off any pieces that have touched wet ground. This dry stuff was collected in the snow.

Hint - In the snow never light a fire under a conifer tree! Did this once many years ago and the snow melts from the branches of the tree and falls on anyone underneath as water. 

A Fire-Bow if you feel very energetic and have plenty of time on hand; this is why matches were invented. It does work and would say that it is a good idea to try it out a few times in case it is ever needed in an emergency. But for everyday use I use a Knife and Steel-Striker which is quick and effective, and unlike matches does not get wet and of no use. Lighters are alright but run out: I have never found petrol-lighters to be very good, even using Zippo which is a good make from the USA. They soon run dry but are useful if you did have nothing since they will use petrol which should be found somewhere in small quantities even in an emergency situation.