We think we know fire, but there is always something more to discover. A little practical guidance and a little inspiration will help you get the most from campfires, wood burning stoves and fireplaces without getting burned.
This 40-page PDF booklet is a general introduction to preparing, making, tending, and using raw, natural fire, with insights for campfire cooking, safety, and other survival skills. Experienced woodsmen may still learn something new (our parents did). Yet this book is accessible enough for responsible kids and complete novices.
Bring it along as a cheat sheet on your next great outdoors, or consider leaving a printed copy on the mantlepiece in a rental ski cabin, bookmarked with a cheerful little note for guests about the proper position of your particular damper.
The book is organized in sections:
- Preparations (safe hearths, extinguishers, dry fuel);
- Laying the fire itself (step-by-step pictures for 5 different fire layouts that can be used in different ways);
- Forms: a brief tour of historic and modern devices for enhancing a fire's usefulness, including cookstoves, fireplaces, heaters, ovens, and sneaky stealth firepits.
- Spirit and Practice, the final section, discusses fire's place in human history, including practical reasons behind our strong responses to this ancient art.
We assume you can light a match (even if you have to read the instructions on the box first). We try not to assume anything else about your past experience with fire.
The Small Print:
If you are a fan of our Rocket Mass Heater work, note that this booklet does not address anything about rocket mass heaters specifically. It's based on our Friday Fire Science Theater presentations: general information that we share with almost all our workshop participants, to give them the background to burn a clean fire successfully in any situation.
If you are a fellow primitive skills enthusiast, note that this book doesn't cover friction fires, which are best learned in person, with suitable local materials. (If you can prepare the right types of wood and fiber for a friction-fire kit, you can waterproof a pack of matches.)
And for everyone's peace of mind as this book may travel a long way from home, we omitted a few of the "don't try this at home" tricks which cannot be safely performed in all climates.
Two of our proofreaders were high school teachers, who helped us tailor the book as a useful resource for Scout troops or family outings. We would feel comfortable handing this book to any of our nieces and nephews after about age 7, and asking them to make the fire. If you're not sure your kids are ready, you can have them lay the fire, and then ask an adult to approve the setup and apply the matches or lighter.
The PDF (portable document format) file is about 3.5 MB. Illustrations are almost double the normal resolution for digital files (144 instead of 72 DPI) so you can zoom in on the more detailed drawings if you like.
If you choose to print from the file, this 40-page document prints at 8.5" by 7". Most experienced local printers can produce it as a booklet using legal-sized paper (8.5" by 14"). Or print at home using 'fit to page' for a large-print version on standard 8.5" by 11" letter-sized paper. The authors hereby give permission to print one or two copies for personal use; however, some photos may not print well due to resolution.
Please contact us (the sellers) directly if you need an alternative payment method, or a paper copy. Printing, shipping, and handling brings the cost of a paper booklet, with color covers and greyscale pages, to $12.50 within the United States (shipping included).
Suggested retail for the printed booklets is $10 to $12.
We can offer wholesale rates for orders of 5 or more; please mention wholesale when you order, and you can get your batch of printed copies for $7 each, free shipping (media rate) or at current US postal rates for expedited delivery.
Erica and Ernie Wisner
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