Tag Archives: fire building

To Rebuild a Fire—When the Flame Has Gone Out

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Bonfire burning bright!

As fascinated as I was reading from Jack London as a child, I’m not going to retell To Build a Fire. I am, however, going to address the art of bringing back the flame when it has almost died out.

Let’s pretend that you built a fire in a fire ring and that you have cleared all flammable items for 10’ in every direction so you can leave it unattended and get your tent ready for bed. You’re crawling around in your tent blowing up the sleeping pad, rolling out your sleeping bag, hanging an led lantern and finding your night time reading. You crawl out and zip the netting. You’re eager to sit with your honey by the fire and oh no! your fire is almost out.

  1. Move evenly and with moderate speed so you don’t blow out what you have left with the wind generated by your hasty movements. Hurry is your enemy here but modulated quickness is your friend.

2. Position your body between any wind and the fire.

3. Carefully lift each piece of wood and lay the warm end in the center of the fire ring where the ashes are the warmest. Watch carefully to only pick up a stick that is cool on one end. Lay the sticks so the warm ends touch and get as many as you can together so their combined warmth begins to rise.

4. Lower your head to the surface and blow gently and steady under the wood. This will blow away some of the ash and allow any remaining embers to be exposed to more oxygen in the air.

5. When your air is gone from that breath, hold your breath and gently back away from the fire to get another good breath of air. This will keep you from drawing smoke and ash back into your lungs.

6. Lower your head and repeat the gentle steady blowing under the wood. Repeat till you get a flame. It will often burst into a small flame just at the end of a long breath.

7. Gently add tiny pieces of dry twigs and leaves until the small flame begins to grow slowly. Once again the key is gently and slowly—no sudden movements.

8. Patiently increase the size of the wood pieces until you have the desired size flame.

9. Lay larger pieces around the fire to help them dry out and to protect the fire from the wind.

If you banked your fire over night with a sizable log, this may work in the morning too. Add a step to the beginning of this list—use a stick to gently brush away the surface ash that has accumulated over any warm spot till you find 5 or 6 bits of glowing ember. Push them carefully together and start with step one above using this little pile of embers as the center.

Practice—practice—practice and this method will save you a lot of grief and provide many happy returns. Your Honey will probably be impressed. My Honey still gasps with delight when that first flame returns with a burst. See my Honey’s guest blog to see what fire was rebuilt on this day two years ago…Happy Engagement Anniversary Honey!

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Is there something in your life where the fire has gone out? Maybe with your Honey? What steps could you take to bring back the flame?