Lighting a Fire with Silver Birch - The Natural Fire Starter 2011/02/23

Every time I spot a Silver Birch I always try to collect any bark that’s peeling off naturally. The bark is like paper and I would say the best natural tinder to be found in England. Lighting a fire with Silver Birch is easy and rewarding.

Guide to Lighting a fire with Silver Birch Bark

Simply find a tree where some bark has peeled off and collect a fair bit. Make sure you are not cutting into the tree or damaging it in any way. Once you have collected enough you can place the bark in your pocket where your body heat will slowly dry it out even more.

Fire Place Preparation

To prepare the fire place simply sweep away any leaves until you reach bare earth. Arrange a few small branches to make a platform on the ground. This keeps the cold damp ground away from your dry tinder. Collect kindling and fuel wood for the fire you are about to make. Lighting a fire with silver birch is easy but first start by crunching up the silver birch bark up in your hands. This helps release fine particles that will ignite with a spark. Stick the birch bark on top of the small branches and have some tiny kindling sticks ready to add when they are needed. I aim to have three fists full of dry twigs ready at least (that are around 4mm diameter) and a few larger bits of dry wood (around 1.5cm thick) to add once the fire is properly going. Splitting wood into matches is easy to do with a good knife, and the inside of wood is normally dry.

Lighting the bark

Scrape some sparks off your firesteel and sooner or later one will fall in the right place on the bark. Once it’s burning strong put the kindling on top, and once that’s burning add your larger bits. Take your time and prepare all the steps properly. Be careful not to starve your fire of oxygen by dumping everything on it at once. A good rule is not to add any more twigs or branches until the flames are coming through your existing pile on the fire. Once you have boiled your water, warmed yourself or cooked your meal you must clean up the area. Try to burn down all the wood to ash which is easy to scatter. A hydration pack normally contains enough water to thoroughly soak the warm ashes. Mix it up by hand to make sure it’s not still hot and cover again with the leaves you moved out of the way earlier. Leave no trace.


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