Ah, fire. We love it. And at a primal level, who doesn’t? However, long ago are the days when we in the first world relied on wood fire as our sole means of cooking food and, therefore, we have lost touch with the skills to make it in any sort of weather. Though learning to make a fire in the rain or wet conditions is a good survival skill in its own right, knowing how helps you to get the most use out of your Hexagon Wood Stove or Fire Box Grill in any condition. And it’s easier than you think. Here’s how:
The goal is to get coals
Our objective is to get a bed of good burning coals. Coals, once achieved, will easily dry out and burn additional fuel while also thwarting moisture.
The process is to dry out wood quickly to allow it to burn
We’ll start small and progressively build a fire that will dry out and burn larger fuel.
Making a fire in the rain is slightly different than making a fire in fair conditions and requires a slightly different set of principles, namely three.
3 Principles to Make a Fire in the Rain
- Elevate and protect the flame from dampness
- Use a long burning fire starter to dry out and ignite kindling (3-5 min. burn time)
- Burn lots of kindling to dry out and burn larger fuel
1. Elevate and protect the flame from dampness
The ground will be the most damp out of everything else around you, which is extremely dangerous to our fragile flame. We need to dry out our fuel, not the ground it’s sitting on. We also need to protect the fire from additional rain. This is where the Hexagon Wood Stove comes in very handy as it elevates the fire off the damp ground and protects it from the rain above. Without a Hexagon, simply build a tepee shaped fire on a dry or nearly dry platform of sticks, bark, or rock.
2. Use a long burning fire starter to dry out and ignite kindling
The kindling will be wet as well so we need a fire starter that will burn long enough to dry it out to the point of ignition. Select a fire starter that will burn for a minimum of 3-5 mins like paraffin or petroleum jelly soaked cotton balls. These fire starters also tend to be fairly waterproof and cheap…simply DIY at home ahead of time. Solid fuel tabs and tea candles work great, too. DO NOT rely solely on natural fire starters as they most likely have to be completely dried first before they will ignite.
3. Burn lots of kindling to dry out and burn larger fuel
You need to use lots of small, quick drying twigs to dry out and burn larger fuel. Gather tons of “Triple Ts” (teeny tiny twigs) which are toothpick to pencil width in size. They’ll dry out and burn quickly to increase heat and get our blaze a goin’. Get more than you think you will need. They should be easily broken up by hand (so no bushcrafting skills required). Remember, as expert outdoorsman Len McDougall said, “Small things burn easier than big things. That’s a fact.”
From here, simply make your fire as normal paying extra special attention to using lots of little twigs to dry out and burn your larger fuel. Prepare everything first, then work quickly without smothering your flame. You only have 3-5 mins before your fire starter burns up. Prepare correctly and you’ll have coals in no time.
Practice, practice, practice
Using these principles, making a fire in the rain is much easier than it seems, but the only guarantee is to practice as often as you can to become proficient. Better to practice now and never have to use it than to need it and not know how.