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How to Do Everything – Camping

Find water anywhere, make a fire in five minutes, learn secrets for battling mosquitoes, and more.
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Hiking | Packing & Planning | Camping | Gear | First Aid & Health | Cooking

Water 101 | Build a Fire | DIY Grommets, Windscreen | Master Three Knots | Set Up Camp | Beat Bugs & Bears | Two-Second Tips

Need an emergency blaze, but don’t have a firestarter? All is not lost–provided you do have steel wool. Twist a few strands into a string, then touch either end to the positive and negative receptors on the phone’s battery. The resulting short will produce enough sparks to ignite a tinder bundle–and your battery will be none the worse for wear.

1) Place three thumb-sized, foot-long sticks in a flat triangle formation; there should be enough space under one of the sticks to slip a match and light the fire.
2) Make a pile of fine tinder on top of the triangle. Rainy day? Pick up tinder material while you’re hiking and tuck it under your coat, where your body heat will dry it out.
3) Build a tipi with sticks no thicker than your thumb; space 1/2-inch apart to form a cone with a 1-foot base.
4) Place twigs (drinking-straw size and smaller) between the fuel sticks and haphazardly inside the tipi. 5) Stuff some tinder between sticks and on top of the tipi.
6) Strike a match and slide it under the tinder pile.

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Video Tutorial: See how to light a fire with one match with this step-by-step guide.


Where to find it:
 Any forest
Tip: Pick up pieces of fallen bark and peel the inner layer for tinder; go for quick-burning trees like birch, cedar, cottonwood, and juniper.

Dead grass
Where to find it: Open meadows, especially in late fall and winter
Tip: Snow-covered grass will still ignite if dried under your jacket.

Where to find it: Swampy areas; look for thick sphagnum moss
Tip: Gather lots–moss burns quickly when dry.

Where to find it: The forest floor
Tip: Best bets are dry pine needles, dead leaves, and ferns.

Cattail Down
Where to find it: Riparian areas
Tip: Crush the dried seed heads in your hand to create highly combustible fluff.

Where to find it Medicine cabinet (100-percent cotton balls slathered in petroleum jelly); pantry (deep-fried chips, such as Fritos); laundry room (dryer lint coated with paraffin wax)
Tip: Double-bag it in zip-top baggies.

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