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.