To build a fire in five minutes, it is useful to have a prior knowledge and experience with building fires, although it is not necessary. What is necessary is having the raw materials ready and the area in which you are to build the fire cleared.
Before preparing to build a fire, gather small, medium, and large flammable items from the woods. For the small items, use dry tinder and kindling like pine needles, small twigs, paper, and tree bark to catch flame quickly. The purpose of the small stuff is to help ignite the larger, longer-lasting materials in the fire. For the medium items, use branches and sticks that are between one half inch to one inch in diameter. Be sure to use dead but not rotted wood for the best burning. For the large items, use large pieces from fallen trees and thick branches. Again, be sure to use dead but not rotted wood for optimal results.
After gathering your materials, clear a circle of about three feet in diameter for your fire. The ground should be cleared of flammable debris, including grass. Now that you have prepared to build your fire, it is time to bring out the timer! You can have a warm and long-lasting fire with the proper technique in only five minutes.
First, create a tight ball of the small items like pine needles and paper and place it in the center of your fire area. This will ignite the rest of your fire with a single match or flame from a lighter. Next, construct a loose teepee with the other small items like sticks, branches, and tree bark. This will transfer the short but fast burning ball’s heat to the larger pieces of wood that will burn slowly to create a strong and long-lasting fire.
After constructing the teepee, stack the larger pieces of firewood along the side of the teepee, ensuring enough room for the fire to breath. Remember that oxygen is one of the necessary ingredients to create and sustain fire. These larger pieces should be constructed in a kind of square around the teepee and can even be made like a roofless house by placing two pieces of firewood parallel enclosing the teepee then stacking two more parallel pieces the opposite direction on top of the first pair of logs. Stack two more pieces of firewood in the location of the original logs, but on top of the second set. Repeat this pattern until a cabin-style frame has been constructed, remembering that the “house” need not be perfect, especially when building a quick fire.
Now that you have successfully arranged your firewood and firestarters in a way that will help the flame catch quickly but last for a long time, it is time to light the fire. If all goes well, you will only need a single match to light the fire and keep the fire lit. Find a hole in the teepee area where you can safely drop the match into the ball of quick-burning debris. If you cannot find a hole near the top of the teepee, you can slide the match in along the side of the teepee. Either way, be sure the lit match will touch the ball of dry tinder.
Drop the lit match into the teepee and watch to see that it catches fire. If necessary, try again. If the fire seems to be dying out before igniting through the teepee and cabin, blow gently but steadily into the bottom of the teepee area to fuel the fire. After your fire has caught and the larger pieces of firewood have burned, you may add more fuel to the fire as necessary, using the already-hot firewood to ignite new pieces of firewood.
Although the process of building and keeping a fire sounds lengthy, once the materials are gathered and the area is cleared, it takes only a matter of minutes to construct this long-lasting fire. Be sure to practice fire safety and keep flammable items like tree branches and loose clothing far from the fire. When you are finished with the fire or need to leave, be sure to put the fire out completely.