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48 votes
Accepted

I have a firestarter disk, but it won’t light. How do I use it?

It looks like a grindstone. The two halves would be different fineness. Your friend probably had this in his cooking kit to sharpen knives. This doesn't look like it has anything to do with ...
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27 votes
Accepted

What coat should I wear when camping that won't be damaged through melting by embers from a fire?

Wool does not melt or drip This answer might surprise you: wool! Wool (...) does not melt or drip(.) Wool ignites at a higher temperature than cotton and some synthetic fibers. It has a lower rate of ...
  • 23.4k
27 votes
Accepted

Is burning cow pies (dried cow manure) safe?

It is apparently not safe, among the poor today who have to use it as they have no alternatives, it leads to all sorts of health problems. It is also a worse polutant than burning wood. On the ...
24 votes
Accepted

Leaving a fire unattended for a few hours, then returning

Fires must be attended at all times! There is no such thing as, "the best way to leave a fire unattended for a short time," your fire is either being attended, or your fire is thoroughly extinguished ...
  • 53.2k
22 votes

Is it safe to leave a campfire unattended overnight in a campsite?

The short answer is No, never leave a fire unattended. The reasons are some of the ones you listed above, but you understated the major risk: Unattended fires can easily spread - a log rolls out or ...
  • 8,015
19 votes
Accepted

Is it a bad idea to dry clothes by the fire?

Make a big fire. This may sound silly and couterintuitive, but the reason is pretty simple. If you make a small fire you need to put your stuff pretty close to it to have any chance of drying it in a ...
  • 4,555
17 votes

I have a firestarter disk, but it won’t light. How do I use it?

There are two possibilities. As Olin Lathrop states it's a grindstone, and would be used to sharpen, or "file" things. It that's the case, then you would not use it to start a fire. It's part of a ...
  • 2,820
15 votes

Is it safe to wear a down jacket while building a fire

In the context of camping, it's perfectly safe to wear a down jacket. Keep in mind that fleece is typically also made from synthetics, and so can be expected to have similar properties to your down ...
  • 8,368
15 votes
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How to deal with unethical campers?

It boils down to the point what one could really do in such a situation. When I trek in India, I do come across such situations that beg some action from me and other sensitive people around. I define ...
  • 31.5k
14 votes
Accepted

Leave no Trace: Are campfires unethical?

I think this largely depends on the specific area you are traveling in. My approach is to always minimize campfires in the backcountry as a general rule. That being said, if I am in an abundant ...
  • 1,524
14 votes

Leave no Trace: Are campfires unethical?

Like most activities, campfires aren't simply ethical or unethical. There are only a few things in this world that are always ethical or always unethical. Rather, there are ethical and unethical ways ...
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14 votes
Accepted

When is it unethical to dismantle a fire-ring?

Different land managers have different takes on this so I don't think you're going to get a solid answer that applies across all areas. I generally use the term "trail camp" to describe what you're ...
  • 2,138
14 votes
Accepted

Why use a Dakota fire pit?

Efficiency, mostly The fire should be able to burn very hot. Less fuel is needed (faster cooking). Produces less smoke. Less susceptible to wind. Light is shielded. Easy to cover up to extinguish. ...
14 votes
Accepted

Use 15 year old Zippo Lighter Fluid (naphtha)

Vehicle fuels have to do more than just burn. They have to ignite as expected, not clog fuel filters and not bring too much water with them; they may also have to lubricate. This means old vehicle ...
  • 23.6k
13 votes

Is it a bad idea to dry clothes by the fire?

Its not necessarily bad as long as you are careful, also somewhat dependent on material. Generally, you want to arrange your clothes so that they are about a temperature where you could comfortably ...
  • 7,069
13 votes

Yosemite Fire Rings - What to Expect?

May Lake is lovely. Hoffman is a great peak to bag while you're there. As I recall, the camping at May Lake is quite well developed and you should find bear boxes and legal metal fire rings there. ...
  • 191
12 votes

When is it unethical to dismantle a fire-ring?

I would say any time you're in an undeveloped area, it is OK and perhaps the most ethical thing to do, to dismantle fire rings. They encourage over-use of a particular spot, collect trash, etc. When ...
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12 votes
Accepted

How exactly do you cut down a tree with fire?

Unless you are building a bridge you don't. If you don't have the tools to cut it down you don't have the tools to do anything with it once it is down. You are converting it from a big living ...
11 votes
Accepted

How do you build a warming fire in an old barrel?

A good burning barrel needs holes near the bottom to supply air. A pick axe or a geology hammer works well for putting in the holes. Put most of them between 6 and 12 inches from the base. Used for ...
11 votes
Accepted

What are the best methods to clean out a fire pits and dispose of the ash?

The practice recommended by the Forest Service here, and here is, When the ashes are COLD and DEAD OUT, the ashes can simply be scattered outside of the campsite. I would say that the more widely ...
10 votes
Accepted

Any dangerous animals attracted to fire?

Two parts to this answer: First, I am playing around with some statistics on assaults and murders in the US National Parks, and I am coming to the conclusion that the most dangerous animal in the ...
  • 22.6k
10 votes

How to generate white smoke in the wilderness?

You can build a so called "smoke generator" and feed it with certain material to specifically generate white smoke. It's basically a survival technique. First, make a platform from dead wood, and ...
  • 23.4k
10 votes
Accepted

What are "burnable gasses"?

Wood is not a simple chemical. It releases a number of different compounds when heated. Try distilling wood some time. Put a few slivers into a test tube and heat it. Pipe the result into another ...
  • 21.3k
9 votes
Accepted

Heal burn wounds in the wild

I've been out in the woods with companions who have suffered severe burns. You first priority is to relieve the pain, you accomplish this by removing the heat from the burn. Cool clean water is your ...
  • 53.2k
8 votes
Accepted

Camping site suggestions

It depends on the kind of camping you want to do. The easiest type of camping to find is camping at a campground. Usually this involves paying a nightly fee (often around $20-30 per night) for a ...
  • 4,364
7 votes

Is it safe to wear a down jacket while building a fire

It may be safe for you, but not for your jacket. While it won't instantly burst into flames, your very expensive jacket will get holes melted in it by hanging around a fire, same goes for any other ...
  • 53.2k
7 votes

Leave no Trace: Are campfires unethical?

Avoiding the word 'ethical', I'll ask: Is it good for the forest to stop all fires, and let fuel accumulate? In North America this has led to many very destructive fires that kill every tree in the ...
  • 1,780
7 votes
Accepted

Is there a safe way to light and tend a small fire on earthy/peaty ground?

Lightweight stoves are preferred over campfires, but it is still important to know how to make a leave no trace campfire when the occasion calls for it (run out of fuel too soon, stove failure, etc.). ...
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