Tinder Bundle

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How to make a high quality tinder bundle.

Tinder Bundle

This is one of the most critical parts of making a fire no matter what method you use. The tinder bundle MUST be made properly or you are doomed to failure. The tinder bundle needs to be constructed completely with attention to detail. The ingredients of the tinder bundle can vary quite a bit, but the method of construction shouldn't vary much at all. Basically, you can build a house without much care, however, it will fail if you don't do it right. The same goes for the tinder bundle. It has specific layers that serve specific purposes. A minimalist's version of a tinder bundle only needs to be one layer, but it's no guarantee it will be successful. Just like a pile of leaves won't guarantee a successful home, an improperly constructed tinder bundle won't guarantee fire.

If you have extra fibers left over from making your cordage, you can use them to make a "bird's nest". This will be a very good layer to your tinder bundle. Use only dry material for this. Live plants don't work. If you used live plants to make your cordage, you must find other dry fibers to make the tinder bundle from. This can range from grass, leaves, inner bark from dead branches or anything dry, crumbly, and stringy ( I always say stringy, what I mean to say is a fibrous material that allows air to flow freely while containing the coal in a tight area where it can build and transfer the heat efficiently to the rest of the tinder bundle).

The next part is pretty critical. When you do gather your material to be used as a tinder bundle, you must work it into a crumbly dusty mess of intertwining slivers and curlies and stringy loose fibers that will hold together while you manipulate the coal into a blaze. It should be as large as you can make it because it may be difficult to handle if it ist too small. About the size of your fist should do it, it can be larger but probably not smaller (unless you are already good at getting a blaze from a glowing coal). If you have no leftover cordage material to use and you have no more dry crumbly yet fibrous material left in the area to gather, then you must scrape little small curly shavings from a piece of woody material and pile it up and use that in your tinder bundle.

The tinder bundle works best if you make it in layers. The outer layer should be long and strong fibers that have good flexibility to them. Inside that layer you will need a bunch of finer strands of fibrous material that helps coax the coal into flames. Inside that layer will be a layer of very fine material such as saw dust, cattail fluff, or anything that will help extend the coal. Then form it all into something that resembles a birds nest with a good depression in the middle where you will place your coal.

I use 5 layers in my tinder bundles. Each layer has it's own purpose. I'll describe the layers starting with the outside and finishing with the part that actually touches the coal when you put it in the tinder bundle. The first layer (Atlantic white cedar shavings) is designed to hold everything in place and to give you some duration of flames in order to give you enough time to get your kindling going. The second layer (shredded cedar bark) is what helps coax the coal into flames. The third layer (oakum - unraveled natural fiber rope) is a very fine fibrous layer that contains the dust in one place while allowing the heat to expand. The fourth layer (dried and crumbled sphagnum moss) is the dust that extends the life of the coal and helps the heat spread to the rest of the bundle. The fifth layer (char cloth) is something that catches the coal and makes sure it transfers the heat to the dust layer before going out.

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