Catching your spark

Larry "Dogbone" Renney

With flint and steel, I catch the spark on char cloth.  The char is placed into my tinder, which produces flame that I use to start the fire with kindling.  I have used dried grasses, wasp nest, bird nest, meadow mouse nest, shredded hemp, and shredded cottonwood inner bark During our winter camp, the birds nest caught without problem, but did not stay lit long enough to get the kindling going since it was slightly damp.  I then had to use a mixture of strips of inner cottonwood bark, and cedar bark.  This was placed on a shingle of bark, which held the kindling off the snow, until a fire was properly built.  A brief survey showed that grasses were the most popular tinder followed by the inner bark of cedar and juniper.  White Birch bark is preferred, but not available in most places.  After that, types of tinderís used were old rope, flax, tow, jute, hemp, tinder fungus, tinder conk, dried fungus. Additional types of tinder include sagebrush bark, dried yucca plant, nests, Spanish moss, inner bark of palm trees, aspen, willow, and hickory.  Rotten birch, charred punk, pine needles and grapevine is also used.  One of the important things is to keep it dry, so a lot of people carry it in a leather bag, pouch, or a greased bag. Also make sure your char is dry.


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