Fire Types, Wood Types

 

 

 

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Site Contents


Star Fire,

This is basically one of the simplest fires to make.

 


Trench Fire

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.

 


Gypsy 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 drinks. .

 


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.

 


Lumberman's Fire

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.

 


Altar Fire.

'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.

 


Reflector Fire

The Back shielding on this type of fires reflects the heat forward. Very useful for directing heat into the bivouac.

 


Crane Fire

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.

 

 


Fuzz Stick

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'.

 

The Burning Properties of Wood 

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 their woods

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 heating power.

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.

Hazel:  Good.

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.

Maple:  Good.

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 is pleasant.

 

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.

See Also:

Types of Campfire Ceremonies

Traditional Training Handbook
2003 Baden-Powell Scouts Association

 

 

   

 

 


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