I never learned to build a fire as a kid. I don’t know if I wasn’t taught or I wasn’t paying attention but the first time I tried on my own I couldn’t get it to light. I learned that there is more to it than putting wood in a pile and applying heat. Now I know that you need to layer the materials in the right way. First the things that are easy to get started – I like to use crumpled up paper for this. The next layer should catch easily but not quite as fast as the first layer. If it catches slower then it is likely to burn longer. Twigs and small sticks are good for this. The last year should be big chunks of wood – logs or thick branches that light slowly but will burn for a long time.

The bottom layer lights quickly and provides the energy to get the second layer to catch fire. The second layer can burn long enough to catch the top layer on fire.