Finding Fire – Pioneer Life in the 21st Century, Part 2

By Ebony Porter, February 24, 2017, Energy Efficiency, Family, Green

That calm zen of watching a sunrise or a sunset is found everywhere in the outdoors. But how do you find that same bliss indoors? 

Video gaming, or binge watching your newest streaming series, may be your current gateway to zen, and we won’t argue with you on that. But with Bounce Energy’s “Pioneer Life in the 21st Century” series, we explore ways to unplug and turn back the dial to a simpler time.

How can you tap into that primitive side of mankind without the use of the internet or electricity? We recommend you find fire, and build one this weekend. It’s a basic survival tip, but many people in this 21st century don’t know how to do it.

I was one of those folks once, but things had to change. Living in a home without central heat, it was imperative that I learned how to build a fire for those cold winter days when space heaters and layers of wool sweaters just don’t cut it. Once the fire gets going, the heat permeates through the house. No need for that central heat!

Save electricity, get warm, and go primitive! Make an event of it, and get all your friends to unplug for a night of campfire tales. It will be a night to remember.

Finding Fire - Pioneer Life in the 21st Century, Part 2 | Bounce Energy Blog

The Fireplace

If you’re lucky enough to have your own open fireplace, make sure it’s been swept within the last year. An open fire can be dangerous in a fireplace that is full of soot.

If you live in an apartment, or a rental home, or a home without a fire place, then consider buying a portable fire pit or chiminea for the courtyard or backyard. Be sure there is no fire ban prior to starting your outdoor fire!

You can also build a permanent outdoor fire pit in your backyard by digging a hole at least 3 feet wide, and 1 foot deep. Place bricks around it in a circular form, and make sure there are no trees hanging over the fire hole. Sparks can reach high and you don’t want to catch a tree on fire. If you can, double or triple layer the bricks. A taller wall of bricks is ideal so that your flame will be protected by wind. 

Fire Building Materials

I’ve been on camping trips a time or two with city slickers that excitedly show up with a bundle of firewood they just bought off the side of the road, a lighter, and not much else. The problem here is that they have no kindling, and no tinder to get those massive logs burning!

Dry old newspapers make great tinder, as do very dry pine cones and leaves. Actual fire starters are magic too. You’ll want to also find dry sticks and twigs, your kindling, to get your fire going. But if these aren’t available, try to chop slivers off your larger pieces of wood with an axe.

If buying wood, make sure it’s extremely dry. Pick up a piece of wood and knock it on the ground. If it feels heavy, then it’s full of moisture. If it has a lighter weight to it, then it should be dry enough to burn well. The reason you want dry wood is that it burns better than moist wood, which will just smoke.

You also want to make sure you have an iron or long thick wooden stick poker, a pair of fire proof gloves, and a shovel to handle the ashes.

Finding Fire - Pioneer Life in the 21st Century, Part 2 | Bounce Energy Blog

Fire Building Basics

Fires start small and grow large, so don’t expect a roaring hot fire in the first 10 minutes.  Build the fire small and slow, and gradually add to it to make it larger. It’s a meditative, primitive process. Try to enjoy it!

Begin with newspaper, dry pine needles or leaves, or a fire starter. This is your tinder bundle. Then build a small teepee form of bone dry sticks around the tinder, or lean your kindling at a 30 degree angle around the tinder.

Light the tinder on fire, and watch it slowly catch fire to the kindling. Once the fire seems established, place a slightly larger group of sticks on top, and grow the fire slowly. Patience is key, and as you place larger logs onto your small fire, you want to give them time to get hot enough from the smaller flames to catch on fire.

Be sure you arrange the logs so that there is a vacuum of air that can go beneath the wood. Oxygen is an important component to a healthy fire.

End of the Night

If your fire is outdoors, be sure that there are no coals remaining in the fire once it has died down. You can scoop the ashes onto the coals to make them go out, or take the hose and wet the coals.

For indoor fires, make sure that the fire is allowed to slowly burn down, so if you expect to head to bed at 10pm, put your last log on no later than 9:15pm. Using the shovel, shovel ashes onto the coals, and be sure you close up the fireplace doors so no ashes or flames jump out onto your carpet or floor.

We hope you’ll enjoy this affordable, pioneer style Saturday night!

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Born in Australia, Ebony has been in Texas long enough to consider herself a Texan-Aussie. Ebony has been writing for magazines, newspapers, and blogs, for more than 10 years. When she's not writing she's building quilts, growing her own food, or camping with her family somewhere far from the sounds of the city.

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