Skip to next element

Meghan Ham

Everything you need to know to start a fire in the rain

Everything you need to know to start a fire in the rain

Bunching up around a campfire with family or friends on a clear, cool day is one of the best parts of every camping trip. Although a campfire seems a luxury in the best circumstances, it becomes an absolute necessity in the worst scenario. The great irony about campfire is that it becomes hardest to start when you need it the most during windy, cold, and damp weather conditions.

Moreover, starting a fire in wet conditions is one of the skills that you should pay attention to when it's too late.

Challenges you may face while starting a fire in the rain

Starting a fire while it is raining poses its unique challenges. Just think, water is a natural enemy of fire. So, imagine how challenging it would be to start a fire in the rain or on wet ground.

Starting a fire while it’s raining is possible, but only if you know how to do it right. However, here are the key challenges you may face while starting a fire.

These include:

  • Wet wood is the biggest challenge you will face here. Seasoned or dry wood is the safest to burn. You should burn the dry wood with less than 20% moisture. The more moisture in the fire wood can make it less efficient to catch fire.
  • Finding dry fuel to start a fire after rainfall is always challenging, especially with the wet ground. However, thin sticks or branches are the best fuel pick to start a fire in the rain.
  • Lighting the material can be difficult
  • After collecting the right material to start a fire: Creating that spark that is arguably the biggest challenge.

When it rains, everything around you gets wet. Therefore, it becomes more challenging to light the fuel you collect, especially with wet wood. Moreover, your fire being exposed to water will instantly kill any progress.

Steps to start a fire in the rain

Arguably, wet and cold conditions will make it difficult to start a fire in the rain. However, this is the time when you need it the most, and it may become frustrating to start it.

Therefore, here are some steps you can follow to start a fire. So, here we go:

Create a dry space or find out a sheltered location

Do you have a tarp? It is time to set that up. Otherwise, finding a sheltered place to stay warm and dry is important. A sheltered place may include the groove of trees or a rock face. Moreover, it is important to dig a fire pit to place your setup where you have found the shelter.

Most importantly, you should have a deeper fire pit if the wind is stronger. 

Source some fuel

The next step here is to source some dry fuel. Always remember that any standing dead tree’s inner core stays dry even during the rain. Find out the ones that have 6 inches diameter at least. The bark falling off a tree is arguably the best way to determine if a standing tree is completely dead.

You can also test the dryness of the tree by cutting a deeper chip out of that tree. Use an axe or knife to cut a deeper chip, and then test whether it is dry using your tongue. If that chip sticks to your tongue even a bit, your chosen tree is dry. Otherwise, you will have to find another standing dead tree in the surroundings to source your fuel.

Begin small

Starting small is sometimes better. Take some fibrous materials, like dry lint, and make a tinder bundle of them. This fibrous material can include the shredded under the tree bark layer  or the fluff of cattails or milkweed. If you don’t sweat, then it is better to keep the fibrous material bundle inside your clothes. The heat of your body will help it get dry while collecting more fuel to start your fire.

Prepare some tinder and kindling.

You must keep your collected dry wood out of the rain. Split wood and whittle dry kindling out of your log’s middle section. Splitting wood is important, especially when you are dealing with damp wood, so you can utilize it efficiently. These should be in a cigar’s size. You should take about 4 larger handfuls of dry kindling to start the fire.

Now it’s time to start preparing the structure of kindling and other fuel to start the fire.

Build the structure

Fire building is essential for a successful fire in rainy conditions. First, you must keep the fire structure off wet surfaces. For this, you must lay down a base of the sticks in the wrist size in a dry area. Now start putting the sticks of thickness similar to pencil lead, i.e., small branches.

Then add larger sticks to this base progressively. It is better to place the tinder bundle you have in the middle of the structure to light it right there.

Light it up

Now it’s time to light up the structure you have to build to start the fire and keep yourself warmer. Use a fire starter to light your teepee. It will catch fire even if it is wet. It would help if you either looked for pine pitch or birch bark on the trail or kept a cotton balls bag covered in Vaseline to make it easier to fire it up.

Final Thoughts

Something is amazing about sitting in nature when it's raining. Listening to the drops of water splashing on the ground around you is certainly peaceful and relaxing. However, performing even the smallest task becomes more challenging, such as starting a fire after rainfall or during a storm. Well, the guide above can help you start a fire even when it’s raining.

Image by Henning Sørby from Pixabay 

Share on:

Load Scripts