One of the most debated and challenging aspects of camping is how to light a fire. There are countless opinions on what is the best method. Purists usually stand firmly with gathering small twigs and leaves that are bunched by hand and then lit. Those that just want t0 start a fire without fuss may pack in store bought fuel or fuel pods, of different sorts, to ensure fire is made.
Although, twigs and leaves aren’t always reliable depending on weather. Store bought materials are usually expensive (for something you’re just going to burn), take up needed space in your pack, and add extra weight.
Instead, use the natural fuel provided by the pine trees all around your camp or the practically free and homemade manufactured fuel you throw away every week.
These two provisions are the highly flammable sap that oozes from pine trees, which is easily harvested without damaging the tree. And the dryer lint you discard after doing routine laundry. Both are surefire (no pun intended) methods to ensure you start a quality blaze in your camp, and depending on the season and conditions it could mean a lot more than just aesthetics.
Pine sap is naturally flammable, whether hardened or wet, and easily gathered in most wilderness areas. If you look along the trunk of pines or on the ground in the immediate area around the tree, sap that is either dripping or that has dropped is usually in abundance. Once the sap is procured, usually by gathering droplets or scrapping it from bark, you can add beads of it to your kindling, which will give your fire starting an extra boost.
If the supply you find is already dry, it can either be used right away or saved and used for later fire making. If the stock you find is still wet, roll the sap into small dime-sized balls and ignite one or two with your kindling in your fire area or allow them to dry and use them for future employment.
If being stored for future use it keeps well in a plastic bag and is a light fuel that will never go bad. Even so, after hardending the sap beads may take a little extra time to ignite.
In the case of using lint, which I always keep a small baggy of in my pack, tightly wad up a small handful and place it at the base of your kindling and other larger sticks, much the same as sap, then ignite it. Lint is very flammable, which is of course why dryer fires are so common and dangerous. But in the case of making fire in the wilderness, lint can be a lifesaver and a great aid in easing your frustrations in almost any condition.
To ignite either of these I recommend using a simple cigarette lighter, which is both light and can be used over and over. However, matches are good for lighting and then using as added kindling.
Be sure to take all necessary precautions when setting up your intended fire. Ensure you build it in a clear and safe space away from other flammable camp elements including both natural and packed. Also make sure you have built an inorganic perimeter around the fire such as with stones (but not stones found in water since many will explode with heat).
After you’ve finished with your fire make sure it is completely out, not even smoldering. It should be completely dead before it is left unattended.
Enjoy, and Camp Easy!