I’ve lit more camp fires in my life than I care to remember, and generally do it with a firelighter, and some matches, along with a few dry leaves, then some tiny twigs, then some larger ones, and so on and so forth.
However, when we arrived in Victoria and found out you could have camp fires in summer, I remembered we had zero firelighters left, and not much in the way of paper either. Nevertheless, I was determined to have a camp fire, and we had a huge number of them before we got to the shops to get more firelighters!
Victoria is well known for its 4 seasons in one day, and on a number of occasions I found myself trying to light fires with everything wet, and that’s always fun. However, the cheats way to light a fire is this; a fan!
Now, you might have seen people using a leaf blower, or even a drone, but the principle is the same; the more air flow you can get onto a fire that won’t blow out, the faster it will get going.
Fire requires three things – air, heat and fuel, and the more air you pump in, the better its going to burn.
The cheats way of lighting a fire then, is really simple; get some paper, or cardboard, or dry leaves, and light them with a match. If its really wet, you might go through a few matches, but you’ll eventually get a leaf or two burning, and if you are careful you can hold another leaf over the top, and then drop it when it goes, and another, and another.
Once there’s a bit of heat in, you can put some twigs on, and then I grab our 18V Ryobi fan, and put it to work. When the fire is only just lit you want to be careful that you don’t blow it out, but on low it will generally make the fire pick up quite a bit, to the point where you can drop a lot more little twigs on, even if they are completely wet.
Give it some time, and put some larger ones on, and by now you should be able to crank your fan to maximum. At this point, I’m usually putting anything up to about 30mm diameter on, and it won’t take long for the fire to start roaring. I’ll leave the fan on for up to 5 minutes, with it a decent distance away so it doesn’t get hot, and then your fire will be absolutely cranking along.
If we need to get coals in a hurry for cooking on, the fan is hugely useful as it makes everything burn faster, and gets the fire going so much faster. I’d go as far as saying that a fan probably quadruples the speed at which things burn and get hot, and we use it often to get a fire that’s died down cranking again too.
These fans are portable, rechargeable from solar power and they are quiet, which makes them much nicer to use over a leaf blower, that all of your neighbours will hear.
Now, you need to be sensible about doing this, as a fan can blow embers around the place, so use your noggin and do it safely.
Next time you’re struggling with a fire, think about a fan; it’s the ultimate cheat to getting a fire going quickly.