Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Pathfinder Phase One Block 4 Module 3: Water and Fire

This week I was working on Pathfinder Phase 1 and selected Block 4 Module 3 to complete as I had completed it all in the past and thought it would be good to knock out early. If you missed the first article from the Pathfinder Phase 1 course you can find it here (LINK) and it concerns the selection of a 10 piece kit for use during the duration of the course.

Exercise 1- Research & Log Three Different Ways To Purify Water: In my weekly radio show (learn more here -LINK) a few months ago I spoke about this very matter in detail for around an hour if you would like to listen.  I discussed the following means of water treatment/procurement during the show: Water Vines, Cactus, Sap, Underground water, Ice/snow, Transpiration bag, vegetation bag, natural springs, condensation, dew, rain water, gypsy well, solar still, sawyer filter, life straw, SteriPen, Pump Filters, chlorine, chlorine tablets, purification tablets, Moss, tripod filter, charcoal/bandanna filter, water bottle filters, distillation and boiling in various vessels. I will post a few articles and videos below of a few of these methods that I use the most. I tend to make a tripod filter as part of a long-term camp as I think it works the best among all of the DIY water treatment methods.

DIY Tripod Water Filter (Read the full article here- Link)

 Be sure to check out these other filtering methods: Stone Boiling In A Plastic Container (See full article here- Link); DIY Plastic Bottle Water Filter (see full article here-LINK); Sawyer Squeeze Filter- (Read full article here- LINK)

Need A Water Filter? Try One Of These:

Exercise 2- Research The Correct Method For Collecting Water Using A Bandanna: There are a few methods of using a bandanna as a water filter. Cotton in general is a good base element for an improvised water filter and at the most basic level can be used like depicted in the video below (click on the image below to start the video). You can utilize the bandanna with crushed hardwood charcoal and simply pour the water from one container through the filter into another container. Other means of incorporating cotton into a DIY filter are demonstrated above in the DIY tripod water filter video and the DIY plastic bottle filter video.

Exercise 3- Research And Log The Triangle Of Fire: The Fire Tetrahedron is made up of Heat, Fuel, Oxidizing Agent (Oxygen) And Chemical Chain Reaction. To extinguish a fire you must take away one of the elements of the tetrahedron: 1) Cool Materials below their combustion point (below roughly 575 degrees for hardwoods); 2) Remove the fuel from the fire (quit adding wood to the fire or take all of the wood out of the fire); 3) Remove the oxidizing agents (smother the fire with a wool blanket or cover in foam); and  4) Chemical Chain Reaction (apply extinguishing agent such as ABC powder to interrupt the chain reaction at the molecular level).  Knowing and understanding these elements not only help you extinguish a fire but build them effectively. Listen to my live show from a couple months ago to learn more about the basic firefighting and emergency response techniques (LINK-HERE).

Exercise 4- Research The Correct Method Of Constructing A Tinder Bundle/Birds Nest: Be sure to check out this article that focuses exclusively on tinder bundles and some of the items I like to use (LINK). Im a big fan of using whatever is close at hand, granted I always carry a hunk of fatwood attached to my neck knife, but I view that more as sure fire than as a tinder material. So what are my general thoughts on tinder bundle construction? Make it look as natural as possible and if you can find an abandoned birds nest even better. Beyond making it mimick an actual birds nest my next major tip is to process, process, process and when you think you're done process a little more. You should be seeing extremely fine hairs and dust come off the nest as you rip it apart. If you have moist, wet or marginal materials add in a mix of flash tinders (jute twine or cattail) to increase the combustibility of the bundle. I also highly recommend that your tinder bundle be at least the size of a softball (if using marginal materials or wet smalls this should increase accordingly- remember you have to get your smalls to dry out and then reach combustion temperature before you run out of tinder material). If you're relying on char or flint/steel fire starting as opposed to a ferro rod or lighter then your tinder needs to be processed even more as its less than ideal conditions to start.

So here are a few of my favorite tinder bundles from the past: 1) Dead Standing Grass; 2) Split Wood Shavings (i.e. one stick fire); 3) Marginal Grass, Tulip Poplar and Cattail Mixed; 4) Tulip Poplar Tinder Bundle w/ Char Cloth

This article/section of the Phase 1 course is a mix of two of the most essential elements of self reliance in a wilderness environment. If you have water you can last roughly a month without food (or succumbing to the elements) and if you have fire you can make nearly everything else you will need for long-term self reliance. Having a command over utilizing these elements will not only make you more self-reliant but will also make you much more comfortable when spending significant time in a wilderness environment! As always you can expect many more articles on these topics going forward as they are so critical. I look forward to sharing more of my Pathfinder Phase 1 and Phase 2 course work with you in the very near future!

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