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How to Build a Campfire

Building a campfire is an essential skill for an outdoors lifestyle.

Whether you’re in the middle of the woods or making smores with the family, building a proper campfire can be a daunting task. With some wood and a little bit of knowledge, it’s not really that hard and can be a big help for many different tasks. Here’s how to do it in a few easy steps.

Start with a fire pit

To start building a fire, you are going to need some sort of way to contain it. Whether it be a big bucket, stones, or even a fancy structure. This is so that you don’t ignite the surrounding area including your house. Also, an uncontained fire is a problem especially in dry environments such as California wooded areas.

If you can’t get a proper area to hold a fire, make sure to keep a fireproof blanket or a fire extinguisher near in case of an emergency. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Getting the wood

Choosing your wood is definitely one of the most critical parts of your campfire. You want to get relatively decent sized chunks of wood for your endeavors. Hickory, White Birch, or Oak are some of the best woods to burn. Cedar lacks in flame but excels in heat, making it great for a winter campfire. Try avoiding softer woods like Spruce or Willow because density is proportionate to burn time.

Storing your wood is also an important step because it won’t burn after a rainstorm. You can put in in a storage shed or even set it outside in a stack with a large tarp to keep moisture and other unwanted debris away from your wood.

Setting up the pyre

The most common way to set up wood is in a cone fashion. This is done by inserting a support stick into the ground and leaning the chunks against it over a pile of small combustible material, or kindling, such as wood shavings, leaves, newspaper, etc. As long as they don’t fall over and have a plethora of airflow, you should be all set.

It is imperative to have extra materials around nearby like kindling to keep the fire going as long as you need it. It would be unfortunate to set up a campfire and invite all your friends and family just to have it go out and be unprepared.

Lighting the masterpiece

So you’ve built your pyre and are ready to set it ablaze. You can use a lighter or toss a lit match in the kindling. Whatever you do avoid using things like gasoline or other accelerants that are not designed for this task. You can severely injure yourself or someone else by igniting a flame with gasoline. Surprisingly, cheese puffs are a decent firestarter after you have a flame going.

Remember to never leave the fire unattended, as you never know what may happen when you are absent.

 Extinguishing the fire

You should always put out the fire if it hasn’t gone out. When you are done, there are a few things you can do to end the inferno. If it is still going strong you can pour water on it or use a fire extinguisher to reduce the flames. If that doesn’t work you can use a fireproof blanket to kill off the big flames and put out the embers with water. At the end of the day, there is always the water hose if available.

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Best Plants and Berries to Eat in the Wild

While going on an adventure, you may see a luscious bush with fruit on it. Although they look good to eat, some of them might be poisonous.

First of all; it’s probably not a great idea to eat something you aren’t familiar with. One of the goals of a plant is to disperse their seeds. There won’t be any seeds if a herbivore eats all of the plant’s fruit, so toxins are used as a measure of protection.

It’s also wise to inform small children about the bad ones as they may not know any better from regular plants. Here is a list of plants that are poisonous, and ones that healthy to eat.

Poisonous Plants

A good rule of thumb is that a poisonous plant probably has poisonous fruit. Stay away from plants with thorns or anything that appears to be defending itself.

Deadly Nightshade

Deadly Nightshade, or belladonna, is native to parts of Asia and Europe. Don’t be fooled by the beautiful flowers because the plant is highly toxic; even by touching it you can develop a rash. Eating a single berry can be fatal. The toxins found in the plant are tropane alkaloids such as atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine. These can cause hallucinations and delirium in small doses but can be counteracted by drinking vinegar1. Nowadays, the plant can be used by optometrists to dilate the eyes.

Hemlock

Hemlock, or conium, is found pretty much everywhere. It’s generally safe to touch but can cause a rash in some people. Hemlock is only a lethal flower if ingested due to the concentration of the toxin coniine, which causes the respiratory system to fail, requiring immediate medical care2.

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle is a flower native to the northern hemisphere. Depending on the species, some come with mildly poisonous berries. Eating a few berries can result in a moderate stomach ache or dizziness. Even though the symptoms aren’t severe, it’s generally safer to stay away from these.

Holly

Holly is a festive plant used for decoration. It looks very similar to honeysuckle and is also non-lethal. The active toxin inside of the holly berries is called saponin. Even with eating multiple berries, you won’t really get a worse reaction than a rash and vomiting3. Still, don’t eat it.

Edible Plants

Here are some fruits and plants that are completely safe to eat. If you see a familiar fruit or one that isn’t poisonous, you should wash it off before consumption to remove any dirt or other contaminants.

Crab Apple

The crab apple is a sour fruit found on some trees. There are different varieties and tend to be different colors. Crab apples are found all over the world. It isn’t the most pleasant thing to eat and can give you a stomach ache if you ingest too many.

Huckleberry

As the state fruit of Idaho, the huckleberry (or the bilberry) is found in North America and Asia. There are reports of some health benefits from the berry, but none have been scientifically acclaimed. The huckleberry can be used in place of the blueberry for pies, jelly, etc.

Serviceberry

The serviceberry, or sugarplum, is a bush most exclusively in North America, with some in Asia. The fruits are sweet when ripe as denoted by the name, and are essential to the ecosystem. The seeds give off an extra almond-like flavor, from the amygdalin within them.

Elderberry

Elderberries are old. Just kidding. Native to almost everywhere, the flower and fruit can be used to treat minor ailments in terms of the cold or headaches. It can be brewed into a tea or ingested traditionally. Be careful though; if you eat the stems (Who would want to eat those anyway) you can get the same side effects as the honeysuckle plant from the harsh alkaloids found within them.


Sources:
1. Largo, Michael. “The A-List Celebrity of Poisonous Plants.” Slate Magazine, Slate, 18 Aug. 2014, slate.com/technology/2014/08/poisonous-plants-belladonna-nightshade-is-the-celebrity-of-deadly-flora.html.

2. Largo, Michael. “Plato’s Description of Socrates’ Death by Hemlock Was a Little Too Kind.” Slate Magazine, Slate, 21 Aug. 2014, slate.com/technology/2014/08/poisonous-plants-socrates-drank-hemlock-tea-as-his-preferred-mode-of-execution.html.

3. “Holiday Plants with Toxic Misconceptions.” PubMed Central (PMC), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3555592/.

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7 Great Off-Grid Stoves for Survival Cooking

Have you ever found yourself needing to cook in the woods?

Survival cooking means anything from cooking on a crudely built campfire to a commercial stove designed for the outdoor environment. There are a number of good cooking stoves out in the market and you can also make one yourself from scratch if you are feeling up to the task.

Here we have selected 7 off-grid stoves that you can use for survival cooking on your hiking or camping trip. These can also come in handy in case of an emergency or disaster.

The Crises Cooker

The Crises cooker is a very good companion for your off-the-grid cooking needs. It offers a lot of functionality. You can use it to boil, grill or fry a meal. It can also be used for baking.

The stove can be used with a variety of fuel sources such as wood, propane and charcoal. It is highly efficient and can cook your meals at a fraction of the fuel you would need with a conventional stove.

The stove is small, portable and can be easily packed for camping trips.

Canister Stoves

A canister stove is considered one of the best when it comes to survival cooking. It is light and compact and quite easy to use, even for beginners.

The stove consists of a gas tank and an attachable metal stove. The tank has a nozzle to adjust the flame. Canister stoves require very little maintenance; give a clean burn and a quick boiling time. The fuel is slightly more expense and you can’t just use any available fuel source which may become a problem for extended survival needs.

Liquid Fuel Stove

A liquid fuel stove is more useful for cooking in extreme survival conditions. It has a similar tank and stove design as the canister stove.

The stove can operate in freezing temperatures and generates a strong fire for cooking. It requires white gas or kerosene for fuel which is cheaper than isobutane. However, this stove is heavier and requires more maintenance because the flame leaves a lot of soot.

Rocket Stove

The rocket stove is quite popular in survival communities. It can be built for less than $100 and offers a very high heating efficiency. You can bring a pot of water to boiling point in a few minutes using just a couple of common twigs.

The rocket stove is based on the design of rockets. It consists of a cylindrical metal barrel that is filled with an insulating material, such as ash. A narrow stove pipe at the center runs the length of the barrel from bottom to top. Fuel, such as wood can be fed through a small opening at the side, near the bottom.

The energy created by burning fuel is kept from being wasted by the insulating material around the sides of the barrel. This makes the stove very useful for survival cooking.

The rocket stove comes in many varieties based on size, portability, material used and efficiency.

Rocket Mass Heater

This stove is similar in design to the rocket stove. The difference is that it is much bigger, stationary and can generate a lot more heat than the smaller rocket stove.

A common homemade rocket system lets fuel in through a narrow pipe into a combustion chamber. This generates heat which is pushed through a narrow insulated duct into a secondary chamber where it can be retained for a few hours.

Although it was originally designed for cooking, this type of stove can be used for more than just that. Because of its functionality, a mass heater can be used as a thermal heating system for a dwelling as well.

Most types of fuel can be used with this stove.

Alcohol Stove

The alcohol stove is light and simple to use. They are relatively cheap when buying and easy to make on your own. They make next to no noise and run on a special fuel, Heet, which can be purchased from most gas stations or auto fuel suppliers.

On the downside, they are slow to cook and inefficient. There is no way to control the temperature and the performance is poor in windy conditions.

The Hobo Stove

If you think about it, every single day is a survival situation for homeless people on the streets. As the saying goes, you should be looking to learn from anyone and we can learn a great deal about cooking from these people.

A hobo stove can be prepared with just a couple of empty cans of food or paint joined together. Poke a few round holes at the base of the bottom can using a screwdriver. Cut the side of the top can with a metal cutter. This is where you can feed the fuel from. Usually, wood and charcoal is used as fuel.

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Cooking Done Right— Tips You Need To Know

The outdoors is more than just about the wilderness and all that it has to offer.

It’s about keeping your humanity intact while surviving the nature’s obstacles and one of the biggest obstacle that you will find is that with food. Fruits and vegetation is comparatively easier but you’ve been granted taste buds for a reason. Supposing you’ve hunted your feast for the evening but you really can’t eat it raw then what do you do? Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place, here you’ll get 5 Survival Cooking Tips which you cannot possibly avoid.

Survival cooking done right

When it comes to cooking in the wild, you need to first understand just how different it will be. Here are 5 Survival Cooking Tips that you need to be aware of:

Cooking Tip #1: Lids of pots and pans must stay on at all times

One of the most important tips that you must know about cooking out in the wild is how to do it efficiently. One of the factors is that you’re low on time and you need to preserve as much fuel as you can. You can do this by making sure all the lids of your pots and pans remain screwed on. This allows the food to cook much faster as well as significantly allows you to preserve cooking fuel. Did you know that crockpots were originally built on this idea? It really puts a new perspective to cooking, doesn’t it?

Cooking Tip #2: If you’re cooking eggs, use salt water

You must have often come across this tip, it’s known to be the most famous amongst the 5 Survival Cooking Tips. Using salt water to cook eggs is effective because:

  1. The eggs are known to cook much faster since salt is known to increase the water’s boiling point. That means the egg will only end up being in a water that’s much hotter than normal.
  2. You wouldn’t have a difficult time peeling the eggs since salt water is known to coagulate the member better. This allows the shell to separate away with much more ease than normal.

Next time you decide to boil eggs when you’re out camping, always remember to keep salt with you at all times!

Cooking Tip #3: Potatoes are not only delicious, they’re good for reducing excess sodium as well

If you’re used to eating canned food, then there’s really no problem with that but it often contains excess salt in it. This is known to not only taste quite terrible but it also significantly raises your blood pressure which has terrible effects on your health. To overcome this, you can use slices of potatoes into your food and remove it once it’s done. This will make your meal a lot healthier and has significant effect on your health.

Cooking Tip #4: If you need oil then you should always use olive oil

Amongst the 5 Survival Cooking Tips, this serves as the most useful one. If you’re planning on frying something or simply cooking vegetables, then you should always consider making use of olive oil. That’s because it’s not much difficult to clean up and it has significant effect on your heart. Also, olive oil is known to last quite a long time in great condition which means you really don’t have to worry about it going bad anytime soon. Once you’re done cooking, you can easily clean up your pots and pans or even rinse off the oil. It’ll serve you great purpose.

Cooking Tip #5: Using steam in a bag

The final of the 5 Survival Cooking Tips might come as a surprise to you since it does seem to surprise quite many people. Cooking is one thing but for that you need access to clean water which is quite difficult out in the wild. High temperature plastic bags can help you out with those though. These plastic bags are known to withstand temperature which means they can also withstand heat. What you can do is line a bucket with a plastic bag and poke holes into it. Then fill it with water, drop hot stones into the bag and this will boil the water. This type of boiling disinfects the water and the bag acts as a steamer for cooking vegetables.

These serve as the best cooking tips when you’re out in the wild so don’t forget to follow them to ensure a safe and healthy trip to your wild side.

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Clever Ways to Start a Fire without Using Matches

If you are fond of hunting or hiking then being oblivious to some clever ways to start a fire without matches can be a life-threatening situation. But if you know some of these techniques, this knowledge can turn into a life-saving skill especially in the survival situations.

In fact, if you know some useful yet ingenious ways to start a fire, it can make the difference of life and death!

There can be many reasons why you would run out of matches. For instance, as you are camping, you may lose or forget your backpack somewhere or rain or wind may render your matches absolutely useless.

So, to help you out with that and to make sure you don’t face any uncertain situation just because of this, we are sharing some smart and clever ways to start a fire without matches. Let’s have a look.

Friction Fire

In this method, you should create a hand drill. For this, take straight stick for a flat and spindle, along with wood piece as fire board. At the board’s edge make a V-shaped notch and by using pocketknife, bore a depression (round), close to the tip of V shape.

Now put the spindle in the depression, keeping your hands flattened on both sides. As you apply some downward pressure, use your hands and move back and forth, rotating the spindle. With adequate speed, this friction will result in an ember.

Now on a bark piece, gently dump the ember, and then blow it to make a flame by placing the ember in tinder. For this technique, aspen, cedar, cottonwood, basswood or branches of dried yucca are some of the best woods to be used.

Fire Using a Lens

If fortunately you are in a sunny day then you still have some chance to catch fire. Make lenses using hunting scopes, from glasses, telescopes or binoculars. Sit with your back towards the sun, hold your lens and let the sun rays pass through the lens – using the concave side of it. This way, you can let the emerging rays of lens to be focused on a single point on the tinder bundle. If you do not have a glass lens, you can also use smooth and clear ice to concentrate the sun rays. Lastly, you can polish an aluminum can bottom with a toothpaste or sand to reflect sun rays on your tinder.

Another item to use for this purpose is a balloon. Fill a balloon using water and tie its ends. Keep it as spherical as you can, and don’t blow it too much as this will distort the focal point of your sunlight. You may also squeeze the balloon, bringing it into a shape which will create a sharp light circle.

Battery and Steel Wool

Another useful yet ingenious way to start a fire without matches is through battery or steel wool. This technique is like moving closer to modern times and for this you can use your flashlight battery along with some steel wool to catch fire. All you need to do is to rub the terminals of battery across the steel wool and wait till its smolders. This will cause the fire to get transferred to wood quite instantly and before the whole steel wool get burned.

Catching a Spark

You can easily catch a spark just by striking a steel piece against quartzite or flint. But for this, you must arrange something that would catch the spark. So, once the spark is caught, you may easily transfer it to wood and turn it into full flame. Also, fungus on tinder is also effective in catching a spark and this fungus can be found easily on birch trees, but if not, you may also go with char cloth.

Fire Pistons

If you run out of matches but you were smart enough to bring with you fire piston then you can fight off the need of fire. Use a fire piston to compress a little bit air instantly. This compression will help in raising the internal temperature of the fire piston which will result in a spark. However, if you did not bring a fire piston then unfortunately, this will be really hard to make one right then and there in the forest.

The bottom line – All of these clever ways to start a fire without matches are proven and recommended. However, whenever you attempt any of these fire catching techniques, ensure all the usual precautions to handle the fire. While a well-managed fire can be a great reward, an unmanaged one can easily destroy everything.