I've always felt a little awkward in social situations, and I'm always looking for ways to get over that feeling. One way I do that is to try and make myself useful, and one useful thing that I know is how to light and keep a small fire going. No one else ever seems to want to do it, and it's fun if you do it right. Admittedly there isn't much to it, but that just makes it all that much easier to learn. It isn't quite as intuitive as you might think if you've never done it, especially if it's a little damp out. Use tinder (paper, dried grass, cotton balls, etc...) to get the flame going, light your kindling (small twigs, pinecones, split sticks) over the tinder, and increase the size of your kindling until you have a good pile of coals that can sustain the burning of split logs. Keep your logs and sticks as parallel as you can, make sure air can flow freely through your burning pile of wood and don't let your coals spread too thin. If you're good, you should be able to get a fire going with just a single match and no accelerants (which are usually illegal anyway). If you're really good, you might even be able to do it with just a spark.
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Comment #1 posted on 2013-07-24T02:03:08Z by Epicanis
But I knew what you meant. Also, I learned stuff (I never really thought before about how much of the heat from a fire is radiational rather than convective). This information will come in handy next time I need to set something on fire...
Comment #2 posted on 2013-07-25T12:48:29Z by pokey
Ultraviolet, infrared... bah humbug! I can't see either, so what's the difference?
Yeah, that was the big difference for me too. Once it was explained to me how much radiant heat comes off the fire and is just wasted, I started making my fires a lot better. For instance, if I make a fire to heat up with, I put a great big log at the back to deflect heat back at the fire and at me. I also try to keep my burning logs above my fire ring (but below the top of the big log at the back) if I want heat. If I want to cook, or if it's hot out, I'll try to keep my logs below the top of the fire ring.
When I really realized to potential of the radiated heat was the time me and some friends were at a really big bon fire (REALLY BIG, like >1/4 acre, and the pit was an unused quarry). we were at least 25-35 yards away from any actual burning wood, and we still all got too hot to stand there unless we had something to "shade" ourselves with.