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in: Featured, Manly Skills, Outdoors, Survival, Visual Guides

March 16, 2018 Last updated: March 24, 2020

How to Make a Tinder Bundle

how to make a tinder bundle illustration

Igniting a fire requires more than a spark. Sweating through a bow drill session to create an ember or grinding away at a piece of flint to make a shower of sparks is wasted if you don’t have a good home for the flicker of fire that’s produced — a place that will help turn the spark into a real flame. Tinder bundles are that home.

Made of very dry, fibrous materials, a tinder bundle maximizes surface area and air flow to encourage combustion. Dried grass, shredded bark, and unraveled jute twine are perfect examples of tinder bundle-making materials. Those same materials are typically used in a bird’s nest, which means you could use an actual bird’s nest as a tinder bundle. But for the bird’s sake, learning how to make your own is a worthy skill. A bird’s nest tinder bundle is not only effective because of the materials it uses, but because of its shape. Larger materials on the outside, finer materials on the inside, and a hollowed out center to protect your spark or ember from wind and rain.

Once you’ve landed a spark in the bundle, loosely fold it closed (careful not to smother the spark); then gently blow through the tinder with almost closed lips. Once the bundle starts to ignite, move it to a pre-prepared pile of kindling.

1: Gather dry tinder materials. Look for fibrous grasses, bark, or other lightweight and easily flammable material.

2: Rough up the material by rolling it back and forth in your hands.

3: Manipulate the largest pieces to form a ball (like you would a snowball)

a little larger than your fist.

4: Create a depression in the center of your ball to create a bird’s nest shape.

5: Fill the center of your bird’s nest with your lightest materials.

6: Fluff your tinder bundle to make sure it isn’t too compact. Air should be able to circulate throughout it once lit.

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Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

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