Fuelwood

Earlier this week, we considered tinder and kindling, stepping up the scale of combustible campfire material categories. Today, we look at the largest-sized component: fuelwood.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary quite simply defines fuelwood as “wood grown or used for fuel.” This compound word is thought to have come into use in the 14th Century.

Whereas with kindling, you are looking for twigs no larger than a pencil, with fuel wood, there isn’t an actual limit to how large a piece might be, but there are certainly practical limits. A general rule of thumb that we use in our outings is that a good size for fuel wood is about the thickness¬†of your wrist, or, perhaps, your forearm if you’re building a larger fire. If you have pieces larger than this, they should probably be split down to a smaller size before being used to feed the fire. You’ll want your initial pieces of fuel wood to be smaller.

Where the tinder is used to alight the kindling, the kindling is used to start fuel wood on fire. Once a campfire is established, additional pieces of fuelwood can be used to sustain it.

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Kindling

In our last outdoors post, we looked at tinder, one of a handful of components to successfully build a fire. Today, we consider kindling.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines kindling as “dry twigs, pieces of paper, etc., that burn easily and are used to start a fire.According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word¬†came into use in the 1510s as a present participle from of “kindle,” which is said to have likely originated from Old Norse “kynda.”

From the definition is sounds like a synonym for tinder, but among those who practice the skill of fire building, it is considered one size up from tinder. Tinder is the first material to be ignited. The tinder then sets afire the kindling. Where examples of tinder might be dried grass or leaves, kindling is generally thought of as twigs – sticks no bigger around than pencil.

Going one step up the size scale of combustible materials, we find fuel wood, the subject of our next post on fire building.

Tinder

This coming weekend, some members of the Family Trivium household will be going camping with a youth group, with the primary focus of the outing being to teach basic outdoor skills to the younger members of the organization. Among the skills being covered will be fire building. What’s a fall campout without a campfire?

There are a handful of components necessary to successfully build a fire. One, of them is tinder, which the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines as “dry material (such as wood or grass) that burns easily and can be used to start a fire.” Middle English in origin, it comes from Old English “tynder,” and first known to have been used in the 12th Century.

Mr. Family Trivium’s favorite tinder is dryer lint from loads of cotton. It isn’t something found in nature, but it’s very reliable, and makes a practical use of something which would otherwise be thrown away.

For starting charcoal, Mr. Family Trivium uses newspaper. He loosely stuffs wadded-up newspaper into the bottom of a charcoal chimney before loading the top with lump charcoal for grilling, or charcoal briquettes for dutch oven cooking.

If you’re testing out your wilderness survival skills, you’ll need to scrounge up whatever you can find, Dry grass or pine needles tend to work fairly well. We’d love to hear about your favorite tinder in the comments.