Fire: Creating the Perfect Tinder Bundle
(As featured in the February/March 2010 issue of Practically Seeking)
Whether you are catching a spark from a metal match striker or creating an ember from a bow drill kit, a properly prepared tinder bundle can mean the difference between the warm glow of success and cold sting of failure with fire!
When making a tinder bundle all the same "fire-making" rules apply — you've got to have fuel, heat and oxygen in proper balance, and each layer of the fire should ignite the next.
With the "perfect" tinder bundle, many times
it will ignite itself with you having to do little more than add the
In the photos we are using Cedar bark, but this process works with virtually any tinder material. Construction is simple, and here's how to get started…
Step-by-step Instructions on How to Create a Perfect Tinder Bundle:
- Find a surface suitable for processing the tinder fibers over so they may be collected and saved. This may be a table, an article of clothing, a flat rock, even a cleared area of dry ground. The material should be protected from moisture and wind.
- Working above your bare area, shred your tinder material into stringy
- Buff these fibers thoroughly, breaking the strings into softer strands, and allowing the smaller particles and dust to collect on your prepared surface.
- Work the largest of these buffed, softened fibers into a "bird's nest" that is about the size of your palm. This is the base layer of your tinder bundle.
- Carefully rake into a pile the finer fibers and dust bits that collected on your bare surface.
- Gather the largest of these finer fibers (allowing the even smaller bits to fall back onto your surface) and place them into the center of your "bird's nest". Don't pack down your fibers as you add them. Allow for air space and loft to your bird's nest, as proper air flow (oxygen) is crucial for ignition.
- Continue to repeat steps 5 and 6, raking up your pieces and taking the largest fibers to place into the center of your bundle. Each time the pile will get a little smaller and the fibers will become ever finer until eventually you will have nothing left but dust. This dust is the final layer of your bundle.
- You now have a layered "bulls-eye" in your bird's nest tinder bundle, with the finest dust in the very center and the fibers getting coarser with each successive layer.
- Place your ember on (or strike your spark into) the very center of your bundle.
- Using just your fingertips, hold your tinder bundle at the edges and fold it carefully so that the fibers are touching the ember without crushing it. Blow steadily onto the ember, being sure to keep the fibers touching the ember at all times. The more red you see, the harder you can blow.