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Survival 2: How To Transport Fire


In our first installment we discussed the importance of fire and how to make a fire. Long camping trips and survival situations often require being mobile - moving from one site to the next. Having to use a fire bow or any of the other techniques repeatedly isn't quite ideal as it takes up a lot of time and effort. Energy isn't something that will be super abundant in this situation, so spending it on starting a new fire isn't what we want to be doing.


An "Apache Match"

An "Apache match", or an "Apache Cigar" is a bundle of organic material wrapped up tightly to keep heat in, but oxygen out. This will sustain a coal inside but not let it burn wildly. A correctly assembled Apache match can sustain a coal safely for up to 10 hours.

As our fire is dying and reduced to just a pile of hot coals, we want to build our match. What we are going to do is gather a bunch of kindling to wrap the coal in, as our insulation. Over the kindling we want to wrap it with some sticks, then our out most most layer will be bark and any other papery material we can get our hands on. Wrap it all tightly and tie it firmly with some cordage. The coal should be inserted close to the tip, in the middle of the wrapping. Once the coal spreads its heat to the kindling around it, the assembled Apache match will resemble a lit cigar with the end lit and smoking, but not on fire.

To reignite the fire, untie the bundle. Continue to unwrap it and blow on the ember. Since the inner layer was already kindling, the fire will ignite almost immediately. Place the pile under your already built fire structure, and enjoy your heat.

A Fire Can

This method is extremely similar to the Apache match above, and works on the same premise. Keep the heat and fuel, but limit the oxygen to prevent fire but keep the ember.

This time however, instead of creating a bundle and tying it tightly, we want to tightly pack a tin can about three quarters of the way with our kindling material. Now we place the coal(s) into the can, and pack it the rest of the way, tightly, with the kindling. This will hold the ember for hours.

When it is time to reignite the fire, simply dump the can out and blow on the ember. You can use a stick to scoop the contents out, as it should be tightly packed and hard to get out.

Alternatively, you can fill the can with hot coals. You will need some sort of lid to slow down the reaction and keep the coals from burning too quickly. Furthermore you need to improvise a way to hold the can without being burned, as it will be extremely hot. This isn't the preferred way, but it is a pretty simple and quick way to move fire from one location to another.



Many species of fungi are great for not only starting fire, but also carrying fire. My favorite is referred to as "Conk" or "Tinder" fungus, because of its ability to hold an ember for hours, typically ignited by just a spark or two.

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To find and use tinder fungus, one must turn their attention to the trees. Reddish-brown plate-like fungus can often be found growing on the sides of the trees. When broken off and dried it will have the properties we seek.

Another form of fungus with the properties we seek is known as Cramp Balls or King Alfred's Cakes. These dark, usually black balls of fungus can be found on dead trees. Cramp Balls will be about the size of a golf ball, and once dried will perform quite well for our purposes.

To carry your fire with any of these fungi, just expose the dried the chunk of fungus to the heat by touching it with a coal. Once the ember takes hold in your fungus, wrap it with a piece of moss and head out to your next location. To start your fire with it, break off your ember, place it in your kindling and blow.

Ember Log

This is my least favorite, because while it is easy, it's also a bit tedious and requires a lot more attention while moving.

Using a split log, place a hot coal on the flat bit where the split took place. After a while the coal will begin to burn itself a nice little hole. Carefully carry the log, split side up and monitor the coal as you go. If the coal starts to cool down and turn black give it a good blow and heat it back up. As I said, it's simple but tedious as you have to monitor and maintain it.

At the end of each survival article, I will include the poll. If there are any topics you'd like to hear about that aren't on the poll, please leave a comment below and I will make it happen.


Terry on October 11, 2017:

A really good idea. So many can benefit from your knowledge.

Being ex-forces and onto my 60's now I Don't use my knowledge often but nice to confirm it and bring it up to date. As for the honk fungus we have a horse shoe fungi which grows on trees. Depending on it's size it can transport a tinder spark for 2 1/2 days.

Don Colfax (author) from Easton, Pennsylvania on July 12, 2015:

Thanks WillStarr, I will actually have the third installment up soon!

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on July 10, 2015:

Excellent! You should continue this series on survival skills.

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