Friday, December 28, 2018

The Self-Feeding Fire

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
It's Friday, and that means a video! But it's not one of me. Rather, this is a video of a rather neat concept I've seen floating around recently, but apparently I'm out of the loop as videos of a self-feeding fire have existed since at least 2015.

Here's what I've determined from reading and watching videos on the subject:
  • This is not a fire to keep you warm. Instead, this is a way to ensure you have a cooking fire and the means to quickly start a warming fire when you wake up in the morning. 
  • Be sure to pack enough dirt around the feed ramps that they don't catch fire. 
  • 45 degrees seems to be the optimal angle for the feed ramps. More than that and other logs in the stack may catch fire; less than that and the logs may not feed properly. 
  • You want logs of roughly the same diameter. This will maintain an even burn time throughout the night. If you have smaller logs, place them on top. 
  • You want the logs to be straight and roll easily. This may require you to strip off the bark or otherwise smooth them out if they're knotty. 
  • Place sticks between the first two logs in order to allow for proper airflow when you are starting the fire. 

If you'd like a non-video version of that, read this article. It has many step by step pictures.

An alternate version uses only one ramp and a rock wall. This probably requires the same amount of effort to build, but has fewer moving parts and fewer failure points. The rocks, if large enough and heavy enough, will not only act as a log stop but will also absorb the heat from the fire that will radiate out. If you sleep perpendicular to these rocks, they will help keep you warm through the night, and a large enough wall could act as a wind break.

Caution: Make sure that these are DRY rocks! If they are saturated with moisture (such as rocks found in rivers), then they may explode when the water inside them expands as it turns to vapor from the heat.

Here's an example of that version, made much prettier by use of commercial lumber and power tools.

If you make a self-feeding fire (I'm looking at you specifically, Lokidude) please take pictures and report back with how it went and what you learned from the exercise. You can leave comments below, or in our Facebook group.

Happy camping!

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