Fire Making – The Forgotten Art Of Conjuring Flame With Spark, Tinder And Skill. By Daniel Hume. Book Review.
I first heard about Daniel Hume’s book, from Paul Kirtley’s podcast. (The podcast is highly recommended for anyone interested in bushcraft and the outdoors.) Paul interviewed Daniel about his interest in bushcraft and his quest for learning primitive fire making techniques. The interview also covered Daniel’s book, “The Art Of Fire.”
(Fire Making was originally published in the United Kingdom as, “The Art Of Fire.”)
This interview generated my interest in reading the book Fire Making and I had to order it. (My initial thought was to write – sparked interest in the book, and ignited my interest. – Sorry, dad jokes.)
The book covers both primitive ways to light a fire, like friction fire and also modern ways. From ferro rod, flint and steel, matches, bow drill, hand drill, fire plough and more. As well covering types of tinder and fire lays.
Fire Making, also looks at the importance of fire to many different cultures. Some still relying on primitive fire creation methods to date.
The book has a good combination of stunning photos and illustrations of some fire making techniques. Fire safety is also covered.
Fire Making. – Here are some points, subjects and information covered in the book and my book review and thoughts.
It was interesting to hear about how the hand drill, is generally more common in the warmer regions and countries. (Opposed to the fire bow drill.) But upon reflecting on that makes sense, as it would be harder to work the hand drill in the damper regions. The bow drill is generally more popular in the colder and wetter areas.
Studies have shown that the control of fire dates back at least a million years. This is perhaps the point where man evolves.
In chapter seven on fire pistons, Daniel tells his story about trying to track down a fire piston maker in a remote village. An adventure in itself, with limited information to find him and the language barrier.
In different areas, some people wear armbands or belts made of rattan. Watching documentaries, I always thought the armbands, etc., were more decorative wear or symbolic, but the flexible length of rattan, or bamboo is used with the fire thong. (Truly, Every day carry, E.D.C., for the survivalists.)
The Bamboo strike-a-light. Another bit of impressive information from the book is, the use of creating a spark by percussion on bamboo. This is done by using a stone, or broken bit of crockery on dry bamboo. It requires a certain species of bamboo, the Schizostachyum genus. Bamboo on bamboo, can also get a spark.
The importance of fire to the Aboriginal Australians is vital, whether for hunting, warmth, cooking and ceremonial use. From a very young age, Aboriginal children are educated about fire and understand its role in nature. They learn the correct way to use fire for burning the undergrowth to help with hunting and to aid rejuvenate vegetation of the bush.
In the book, Daniel covers the best woods to use to be successful in the hand drill, bow drill and other primitive friction fire methods.
Another eye opening read and I won’t let too much out of the bag. But two predatory birds, perhaps even harness the fire themselves for their advantage. Although not filmed, numerous people have witnessed this unique behavior.
In the Canadian Boreal forests, fire helps certain seeds germinate by helping the soil and reducing the plant competition.
Some bearing blocks (To hold the bow drill spindle.) used by the Inuit people were made of large fish vertebrae and talus bones from caribou. Walrus tusk and the fibula bones of the caribou were also used as the bow, for the fire bow drill set.
Tips from the book, Fire Making.
Using rubber as a flame extender to help light kindling, is a known method for the jungle. As the rubber helps with the dampness of the jungle. A good tip from the book though, was to use a small slither of rubber from a shoe if nothing else is available.
One good point that Daniel makes, is that we sometimes are over reliant on convenient fire lighting methods. Such as a lighter, which has small moving parts and limited fuel supply. Keep it simple he states, is good advice.
Some cultures will mix different green woods with older dry woods to slow down the consumption rate of the fire.
“If given boundaries, fire will remain the most obedient of allies. If on the other hand, it is misused or disrespected, it will become an uncaged lion with growing and boundless ferocity – the most destructive of enemies. Fire has no purpose, no aim, no ambition, no mercy; it simply exists and consumes anything that it can in an unbiased fashion. But it is not to be feared, only respected.”
Fire Making by Daniel Hume.
Using firedogs (Firedogs are using old or new half burnt logs.) to make getting the fire going easier. This is something I have ignored, as generally I like getting the fire going from scratch to practice different techniques. I think though, using firedogs will be good to get the fire going quicker on those very chili mornings, when a helping hand is nice.
Dried herbivore dung (Plant eating animals like, deer, horses, cattle, elephant, etc.) can help with initial fire lighting and even as a main fuel source.
Summary of the book review – Fire Making, The Forgotten Art of Conjuring Flame with Spark, Tinder and Skill. By Daniel Hume.
The book is not just a, “How to book on creating fire”, but also about different cultures, tribes and ceremonies using fire.
The book captures the spirit of fire, in both the bushcraft field and you feel like an early explorer discovering primitive cultures. A great read with plenty of stories, step by step information and outdoor adventure.
Fire Making can be brought from Amazon and good book shops. ISBN: 978-1-61519-467-4
Paul Kirtley’s podcast, interviewing Daniel Hume can be found here – https://paulkirtley.co.uk/2019/dan-hume-traditional-fire-skills/
Bamboo Strike a Light Demonstration with Daniel Hume YouTube video.
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