Archive for the ‘Survival Training Weekend’ Category
During the recent Do It Yourself World survival weekend we experimented with various fire starting methods and tinder materials. Milkweed fluff was one of the materials we learned to use during the weekend. In a survival situation you will need fire starting skills and the knowledge of materials in your area that can be used to start a fire.
The fluffy silky fibers from a milkweed seed pod make awesome fire starting tinder. The milkweed seed pod forms in late summer and is often found deep into winter. The seed pod contains silky strands attached to a seed. Each seed has a bunch of strands, which catch the wind and act like an umbrella, floating it across the country to find a new resting place for the seed. The fluff from milkweed seed pods catches fire fast and easy, making it one of the best natural fire starting tinder materials you can find.
Milkweed seed pods form on the top of the milkweed plant in fall. These later burst open to reveal the seeds and fluff inside. When the seed pods open and the wind blows, the seeds float on the air. Often, in protected areas, where the wind does not hit the seed pods as strong, the fluff can still be found in large quantities.
As you are walking along through the forest and find a milkweed seed head, simply pull out the fluff from the seed head and add it to your tinder box for later. Milkweed fluff also makes good insulation for winter bedding or clothing in a survival situation.
To start a fire using milkweed fluff, build it as you normally would using milkweed fluff tinder at the bottom. The milkweed fluff catches fire very fast and easy, so the fire should ignite right away. Using good, dry leaves or grass on top of the milkweed fluff ensures that the fire will start right up.
In the photo below you can see the milkweed fluff has caught fire very well. This is less than a second after ignition.
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During the recent Do It Yourself World survival training weekend we simulated a bug out situation where we had to head for the mountains and start a new life. We only had our backpacks and the gear that was already inside the survival camper. This is how we made breakfast over a camp fire out in the mountains.
We took our survival food stash with us when we bugged out. We had mostly dried foods and some live chickens for eggs and meat. The survival camper is fully stocked with most of the items we should ever need to live for long periods in the wilderness. This includes cookware, tableware and bulk foods.
After clearing out a spot in the forest See Article for our camp we then set up a fire pit and made ourselves at home See Article. The next step was to start a fire, so we had fire starting competitions and demonstrations Read Article. Then because it had been raining for days before we arrived, we had to learn how to start a fire with wet wood.
After all this, we finally got settled down to a very late breakfast. It was more like brunch by the time we got a good fire going with hot coals for cooking. We used cast iron cookware to prepare our meals. These are part of the survival camper gear. A cast iron frying pan and a cast iron dutch oven make a great addition to your survival stock. These can be placed directly onto hot coals to cook your meals.
To cook over a fire with cast iron, get a good hot fire burning. When it starts to burn down and bit and you have a nice bed of coals, you can place the cast iron directly onto the coals to cook.
Chickens provided us some eggs which we fried in the cast iron pan over the coals. The dutch oven was used to heat water for oatmeal which we had stashed away in the camper lager. Extra hot water was heated up for some cowboy coffee. One trick for some good campfire coffee is to boil the water and then add the coffee grounds directly into the pot. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and stir it occasionally. This will allow the grounds to settle to the bottom of the pot. Then you can pour or ladle off the coffee from the top. It is some of the best coffee you will ever have.
Practice survival cooking now before your life depends on it and you are sitting there in the forest wondering how to begin. Our experiences showed us that sometimes meals are quite late due to weather or wood quality. You also need to know how to use your survival foods. Prepare and practice using survival food recipes. Experiment with them so you are familiar with your bulk survival foods and what meals you can make.
One evening for dinner we had noodles with some corn, peas and carrots over the top. This was served with some salt and pepper for flavor and it was surprisingly good. The noodles store very well for long periods and vegetables can be purchased in cans that have a long shelf life.
Read all about The Do It Yourself World survival training weekend.
Cattail fluff is the brown part of the cattail on top of the plant. This is the seed head. Cattail fluff is very light and makes great fire starting tinder. When the cattail seed head dries out it sends off little floating seeds on fluffy parachutes like dandelions do. These parachutes are the part that makes good tinder.
You can collect the cattail head in the fall, after it has dried out. They are very light so you can keep a bunch of them in your tinder box. You can see some cattails in the photo below. They stand about 3 – 5 feet high and have brown cigar looking heads on top. These can be pulled apart easily as shown.
To start a fire with cattail fluff, take our your cattail head and pull some of the fluff out. Put it into a pile. Fluff it up very well. It expands as you pull on it. Spread it out into a nice fluffy pile.
Next add your small tinder such as dried grass, leaves or small twigs on top of the cattail fluff. Leave an opening so you can reach the fluff with a match, lighter or spark. Cattail fluff burns very fast, so you should practice this method before your life depends on it. When it is hit with a spark, the fluff ignites and burns out quickly. If you built your tinder pile well, you should have a fire.
Watch the video demo:
During the recent Do It Yourself World survival weekend we headed into the mountains with our survival camper to simulate a bug out situation. We had only the gear that was packed in our camper. We practiced many survival skills. Check out the full story here:
The Do It Yourself World survival weekend
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During The Do It Yourself World’s survival training weekend, four of us headed out into the wilds with our survival truck camper fully loaded with our food and survival gear. We were simulating a bug out situation where we had to head for the mountains and start a new life with just the gear that we had in our camper. This is our story.
After clearing out a space in a depression, we had to set up camp. This was to be our common area for the duration. In a real bug out situation, this would be our permanent camp. We had to clear out all the wild brush and growth first. Then we cleared out a fire pit and set up stones around it. Some logs were used for seats and tables while sitting around the fire or having meals.
We have some comfort items to begin with but these will wear out with time and need to be replaced with homemade items. Our camp chairs are a good example. These things help us ease into our new life with less stress. You should take comfort items with you in your survival shelter or bug out vehicle in order to reduce the stress of moving out into the wilderness to start a new life. Leaving behind all of your normal comforts and fast food life will be stressful enough.
During good weather all of our meals would be made over the camp fire outside. A truck camper makes the perfect survival shelter, but with four people you cannot stay inside all the time. Meals can be prepared or served indoors during rainy weather but will be outdoors most other times.
This weekend also gave us a good idea what it would be like to live in such cramped quarters together for a long time. People may get along well when they all have their own homes, but in a survival situation, we are all working together as a small community. There will be awkward moments and disagreements. Therefore staying outdoors as much as possible helps out a lot.
Our little survival group has one single truck camper for now. Later we will be getting more truck campers so each family or single person has his/her own place. But if the SHTF now, we will have no choice but to head for the mountains in the survival camper and make the best of it.
We also got a chance to try out some new tools on this survival weekend such as a folding wood saw. Remember there will not be any fuel left after a collapse, so you will be back to basics. People will be using hand tools just like in the old days. You will use an ax and hand saw to cut wood for fires and building things.
Here are some of our other experiences during the survival weekend:
Starting a fire in a survival situation is necessary to maintain life. Especially in a cold environment, you need the warmth of a fire. But add wet weather on top of it and you have a problem. Wet wood does not burn well. It is nearly impossible to get a fire going with wet wood. The experience we recently had during The Do It Yourself World survival weekend taught us how.
The first thing you need to start a fire with wet wood is dry kindling. Hopefully you have some with you. If not, then you need to search for something dry that can be used for kindling. A bit of dry cotton from some socks or underwear will do in a pinch. The inside bark of a birch tree burns nicely. Maybe you can get some cattail fluff that is not soaked through.
Find some dried grasses. Tall, standing grass works well. Otherwise, try to find pine needles underneath a tall standing tree. You need to find something that will burn once the kindling catches fire.
The next thing you will need is dry twigs and branches. This part gets tougher if it is raining out. Try to find dead twigs and branches on standing trees and use them.
Place your kindling down on an upside down piece of tree bark to keep it off the ground and keep it dry. If it is raining, do this inside your shelter to keep the kindling dry. Next place the grass, twigs, dry leaves or pine needles on top of the kindling, leaving enough room to catch a spark on the kindling.
Now take some twigs and build a sort of pyramid on top of the pile you have collected. Try to get dry, dead wood if possible.
The last step is to get some larger sticks and break them up and add them on top of the twig pyramid. Then keep on going larger, adding material on top of the pyramid.
Once you have a decent pile of wood, light the kindling inside the pile and blow gently on it to keep it burning. This may take some time, especially if everything is wet.
With care and patience all of the kindling, twigs and sticks will be burning. The larger wet branches will start to dry off and will eventually ignite.
Watch a video demo here:
Admittedly our fire did take quite a long time to get going. It actually took over an hour to get the wet wood going well. But with perseverance, we did get a fire going and got ourselves nice and warm.
Having the proper skills in a survival situation can save your life. Practice survival skills now while you have time.