Can You Light And Keep A Bonfire Going Under The Rain?

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Pablo Edronkin

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Conventional wisdom would tell us that such a thing is not possible, but in reality, survival fires can be kept burning almost anywhere, anytime.

Starting a fire, particularly with very basic or alternative tools is something that requires practice, but doing the same using soaked water, in a very humid environment, even while it is raining, requires a finer development of fire-making skills for survival. Managing such fires is also different and while habits might move us towards seeking protection and staying indoors while a rainy or stormy day lasts, some circumstances may force us to attempt to start fires under such circumstances: Imagine yourself with your clothes completely impregnated with water, walking thorough a forest. Even if you cannot find shelter you will have to start a fire to dry yourself up and eat.

Of course, survival principles call for two steps to be accomplished before attempting to start a fire under an emergency:

Getting away from any sort of imminent danger: If we are, for example, walking thorough the mountains, higher than the vegetation limit and rain or snow stars falling upon us, the situation should be considered serious. Rain or snow at sea level are not essentially dangerous but at higher altitudes they might be so, getting away from such dangers implies either building or accessing some sort of shelter right there or, better yet, descending to lower altitudes where abundant vegetation does exist because there you will have a lot of combustible materials to help you with your fire.

Obtaining shelter: Be it a log cabin or an improvised bivy, the key thing here is to protect yourself from meteorological factors such as precipitation, low temperature and wind. Once you get to the place of your shelter, rest assured that while it might be cold you will not have to fear much because you can fight that by moving. So, gathering wood, constructing your bivy or improving its conditions will keep you warm enough.

In order to start a fire under such conditions you will have to star very modestly and with totally dry stuff to use as your initial combustible; don't be alarmed because you might find small, dry leaves and wood, etc. in the must surprising places:

Look inside caves, crevasses, beneath rocks and big trunks: It is in this sort of places that combustible matter is kept dry longer while water is pouring from above.

Empty your pockets: It is really strange how much useful things you can find in any sort of pocket, including dry leaves and wood.

Look inside your backpack: Some dry, combustible matter might have found its way to the bottom of your rucksack while you were putting things in and out of it.

Remove a superficial layer of soaked soil: If beneath that superficial layer you find dirt that is till dry, chances are that you will find some little chunks of wood, dry leaves, etc. to start a fire with only by excavating.

Where to find dry wood in wet forest after or during a rain.

Search at some distance from water sources: the soil surrounding rivers and streams tend to be more moist than away from water sources. Thus, wood or combustibles in the vicinity are often soaked while at a certain distance they will be dryer and better for fire making.

Starting a fire under the rain is similar to doing so in a dry day but generally requires more effort and likely, several attempts before the flames can be stabilised. The key is to attain the highest possible stable temperature so that the wood chunks that you add to the fire become dry faster. Such fires, made with moist wood, tend to be different in at least one aspect: You will see far more wood over the flames than in the case of fires made with dry material. One of the best things that you could accomplish under the rain in this sense is to light up a really big chunk of wood such as a section of a fallen tree. If you manage to do that you will have enough embers to dry any quantity of wood and the subsistence of your campfire will practically be assured. Just use caution and judgement not to burn the forest, because that might happen even in rainy days if you provoke a runaway fire.

Prevision is very important in the case of fires made in humid environments, starting with the fact that you will have to add or pile-up the wood that you will use as combustible around or on top of your fire with a great deal of anticipation in order to allow it to dry.

Una prueba de que se puede cocinar sobre un fuego aśn bajo lluvia.

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