Prepare and light a fire
Fire lighting is a fundamental skill in Scouting. It is vital
for cooking, keeping warm and as a focal point for camp
activities. As such, being able to prepare, light and maintain
different sorts of fires is very important. It is equally
important to know how to extinguish a fire and to clear a
Three elements are needed to make a fire: oxygen, heat and
fuel. This is known as a fire triangle. Typically, wood is the
fuel for a fire, oxygen is provided by the air and the heat
comes from a match or spark. If any of these elements are
removed, the fire will go out
■ Consider whether it is appropriate to light a fire. If
conditions are particularly hot and dry, or if you are
camping in an area with underground root systems or
peaty soil, then the risks may outweigh the benefits.
■ Stay calm when lighting fires, and no
matter what happens, do not panic.
■ Never use paraffin, petrol or methylated
spirits to light or revive a fire.
■ Choose the site of your fire with care, and
never light a fire on peat, or in areas with
underground root systems or low branches.
■ Never leave a fire unattended.
■ Never underestimate the potential reach of
a fire or the strength of the wind.
■ Preparation is vital. Collect plenty of dead, dry wood.
This will typically be found off the ground, hung up in
branches, but if it has rained recently, look under bushes
■ Feed the fire, don’t smother it, and pay particular
attention in the early stages.
■ Replenish fuel frequently as needed. Add fuel in handfuls
rather than one stick at a time.
■ If you struggle to light your fire or natural tinder such as
birch bark to take the initial spark or flame.
■ Cook over embers, not over flames, as it is these that
produce sustained heat.
■ Always return fire sites to their original state, leaving no
trace that you have been there.
■ Ensure you can extinguish a fire quickly in
case of emergency. Keep either a bucket of
water, fire beaters or a pile of earth and a shovel
close at hand.
■ Carry firelighters and waterproof matches,
a fire steel or a lighter to use in case of
■ Keep long hair tied back when lighting fires.
You must always ensure that any fire you make is fully
extinguished. Ensure all fuel is burned to ash, scatter
unused wood and do not burn plastic rubbish or foil in
■ Extinguishing a fire with water: let the fire die down.
Spread out the ashes and douse with water, being
careful to avoid any steam that rises.
■ Without water: let the fire die down. Spread out the
ashes. Cover thoroughly with earth or soil. Do not
use this method after dry weather, on peaty soil or in
areas with underground root systems
1. Collect kindling and fuel, sorted by thickness. You’ll need
a bunch of matchstick-thick twigs for kindling and larger
sticks of around thumb-thickness for fuel.
2. Choose a fire site, avoiding tree roots and overhanging
branches. Clear the ground to expose bare earth.
3. Create a hearth by placing dead, dry sticks side by side.
4. Kneel with your back to the prevailing wind, knees and
feet together to eliminate draughts, .
5. Pack a bundle of tinder inside the V-shape.
6. Strike match, shielding flame, and take it to the
tinder. Blow gently to provide oxygen if needed.
7. Add wood as necessary, gradually increasing the
size of your fuel as the fire is established.
Try to minimise the impact of a campfire on the surrounding
environment, eg by emptying fire pits and refilling them with
earth before replacing turf.
WOOD BURNING GUIDE
All wood burns better if it has been seasoned. In simple
terms, the word ‘seasoned’ means ‘dry’ and the term ‘green’
means ‘freshly cut from a living tree’. The general rule is the
drier the wood, the better. However, if a fire is well built,
most wood will burn unseasoned.
Ash – the best firewood, providing both heat and flame.
Logs will burn when green, while small branches make
Beech – very good firewood if well seasoned, producing
sustained heat and flame. It may give off a few sparks.
Blackthorn – this native hedgerow tree produces small
logs but is one of the best woods, burning slowly with
good heat and little smoke.
Hawthorn – another hedgerow tree that makes good
firewood, burning hot and slow. Even smaller branches
are worth using.
Oak – old, seasoned oak gives excellent heat and
Maple – good quality firewood.
Sycamore – burns with a good flame and moderate heat.
The thinner branches of this tree make good kindling.
Cedar – good firewood if well seasoned, giving little
flame but plenty of sustained heat. This makes it a good
option for a cooking fire. A cedar fire also has a pleasant
smell. Thinner logs and branches will burn when green.
Birch – produces good heat and a bright flame, but
burns quickly. Unseasoned birch will make an adequate
fire if nothing else is available. Birch bark also makes
excellent tinder, even if damp, as it contains natural oils.
Hornbeam – good firewood that produces a hot, slowburning
Apple – burns slowly and steadily with good heat but
little flame, and doesn’t tend to spark or spit. Like all
fruit woods, it has a pleasant smell and adding a few
pieces to a cooking fire gives an excellent flavour to
Cherry – burns slowly with good heat and a
Pear – another fruit wood that provides good heat and
gives off a pleasant scent.
Plum – good heat and a pleasant scent.
Hazel – a good all-rounder but burns quickly. Smaller
pieces make good kindling.
Pine – burns with a bright flame and produces a
pleasant scent, but often crackles and spits. Pine is a
resinous wood, so it can be used to keep a fire burning
in wet weather. It also makes good kindling.
Laurel – burns with a brilliant flame.
Rhododendron – the thick old stems, being very
tough, burn well.
Plane – reasonable firewood that burns well, but
can throw sparks if very dry.
Elm – must be well seasoned due to its high moisture
content. Burns slowly, giving constant heat, but can
Holly – burns well when seasoned, but very quickly
Walnut – not a common firewood, but burns with a
Willow – must be well seasoned and burns quickly.
Yew – dense, slow-growing softwood that burns
slowly with a fierce heat. The scent is pleasant, but it can
spit and spark on a campfire.
Douglas fir – well seasoned Douglas fir will burn slowly
and produce good heat, but in general it is unsuitable for
a campfire as it gives little flame and has a tendency to
Larch – if well seasoned it gives good heat but is liable
to crackle and spit excessively.
Spruce – burns quickly and produces many sparks.
Horse chestnut – good flame and heating power but
considered poor firewood as it spits a lot.
Sweet chestnut – burns when seasoned but spits
continuously and excessively, making it generally
unsuitable for campfires.
Alder –burns quickly and produces little heat.
Lime – poor quality firewood.
Poplar – burns very slowly and produces little heat. It
makes poor firewood.
Elder – burns quickly with plenty of smoke and produces
Show basic techniques
paper cotton wool, Flint and steel,matches if required,lighter if desperate.
build small gradually improving the size of the fire also use of pen knife Training if no appropriate kindling.#Tailor to suit weather conditions
- fire lighting
- Fire Safety - 999
- Fire Safety - Action
- Fire Safety - Campfires
- Fire Safety - Clothes on fire
- Fire Safety - Dangers and precautions
- Fire Safety - Explanation
- Fire Safety - Extinguishers
- Fire Safety - Grass Fires
- Outdoors - Backwoods
- Outdoors - Campfire
- Outdoors - Cook