This is basically one of the simplest fires to make.
This is the most commonly used Scout fire because it is easy to build. Build
it so that the shallow end of the trench faces into the wind. This will make it
burn very hotly because the air is directed into the heart of the fire.
This is an excellent fire for using a cooking pot. Stews cook very well on
this type of fire and it is also useful for boiling bilious of water for hot
Fire in a Hole
This is very much like the Gypsy Fire, but the wood will slide downwards into
the heart of the fire and help reduce the need for continually monitoring it.
Very useful if there are other things to do as well as cooking because it allows
you to move away for short periods of time.
Again this is very like the previous two fires, but the logs to either side
act as wind shields and allow the air to be directed into the heart of the fire.
Good for supporting cooking pots, or spit roasting.
'This type of fire is ideal for long stay camps as it helps eliminate
the-need for turf removal and low-level cooking. Watch the height you build to.
It is much safer to have it too low than too high.
The Back shielding on this type of fires reflects the heat forward. Very
useful for directing heat into the bivouac.
This is basically another version of the Back Log Fire but with the support
having a greater clearance from the flames.
Back Log Fire
This fire again is useful for supporting cooking pots, but has no overhead
support. The logs act as shields.
Sometimes there are not enough small twigs and sticks around to start a fire
with. Resourceful Scouts will always be able to make themselves 'fuzz sticks'
which, because of their curls of wood, catch fire more easily than a solid
stick. Something for whittling away those spare moments of 'nothing to do'.
Below is a list of the most common woods for burning, there are more. It is worth remembering that ALL wood will burn better if split.
There is an old saying, "before starting a fire - collect the right
wood." It is worth learning which wood is best for your fires as it will make life a
lot easier. A natural result of tree recognition is to learn the burning properties of
Alder: Poor in heat and does not last,
Apple: Splendid/ It bums slowly and steadily when dry, with little flame, but
good heat. The scent is pleasing.
Ash: Best burning wood; has both flame and heat, and will bum when green,
though naturally not as well as when dry.
Beech: A rival to ash, though not a close one, and only fair when green. If
it has a fault, it is apt to shoot embers a long way.
Birch: The heat is good but it burns quickly. The smell is pleasant.
Cedar: Good when dry. Full of crackle and snap. It gives little flame but
much heat, and the scent is beautiful.
Cherry: Burns slowly, with good heat. Another wood with the advantage of
scent Chestnut. Mediocre. Apt to shoot embers. Small flame and heating power.
Douglas Fir. Poor. Little flame and heat.
Chestnut: Mediocre. Apt to shoot embers. Small flame and
Douglas Fir: Poor. Little flame or heat.
Elder: Mediocre. Very smoky. Quick burner, with not much heat.
Elm: Commonly offered for sale. To bum well it needs to be kept for two
years. Even then it will smoke. Vary variable fuel.
Holly: Good, will burn when green, but best when kept a season.
Hornbeam: Almost as good as beech.
Laburnum: Totally poisonous tree,
acrid smoke, taints food and best never used.
Larch: Crackly, scented, and fairly good for heat.
Laurel: Has brilliant flame.
Lime: Poor. Burns with dull flame.
Oak: The novelist's 'blazing fire of oaken logs' is fanciful, Oak is sparse in
flame and the smoke is acrid, but dry old oak is excellent for heat, burning
slowly and steadily until whole log collapses into cigar-like ash.
Pear: A good heat and a good scent.
Pine: Bums with a splendid flame, but apt to spit. The resinous Weymouth pine
has a lovely scent and a cheerful blue flame.
Plane: Burns pleasantly, but is apt to throw sparks if very dry. Plum. Good
heat and scent.
Plum: Good heat and aromatic.
Poplar: Truly awful.
Rhododendron: The thick old stems, being very tough, burn well.
Robinia (Acacia): Burns slowly, with good heat, but with acrid smoke.
Spruce: Burns too
quickly and with too many sparks.
Sycamore: Burns with a good flame, with moderate heat. Useless green.
Thorn: Quite one of the best woods. Burns slowly, with great heat and little
smoke. Walnut. Good, so is the scent.
Walnut: Good, and so is the scent. Aromatic wood.
Willow: Poor. It must be dry to use, and then it burns slowly, with little
flame. Apt to spark.
Yew: Last but among the best. Burns slowly, with fierce heat, and the scent
Fire Site Preperation
Before lighting a fire a Scout always clears the ground. This usually entails
removing any turf to one side so the fire is built on top of the dirt. The only
exception to this rule is an altar fire.
The turf which has been cleared neatly and safely out of the way must be
kept moist to prevent it from dying. After the fire is no longer required and
the ground has returned to normal temperature, the turf is replaced, watered and
if you have done your job well, no one will know you have had a fire there.
To start a fire, push a stick upright into the ground to make a support for
the small twigs and tinder. Around the base of the stick place plenty of 'dry'
leaves and easily ignitable material as this is what should be lit first. Have
ready plenty of sticks and twigs in various sizes to place onto, and build up,
the fire. Remember small dry sticks burn quickly so make sure you have more than
enough to hand.
Light the fire from the windward side and keep building up the sticks to make
the fire grow until it is capable of burning the larger cut logs and wood. Allow
the fire to become a bed of brightly glowing embers before attempting to cook.
Remember, if the embers start to lose their heat, more wood will have to be
put on to keep in a good cooking fire.
©2003 Baden-Powell Scouts Association