The fire triangle, simply put, includes everything a fire needs in order to be successful. It helps us visualize what elements a fire should balance in the form of a triangle. The essential ingredients are oxygen, heat, and fuel. But what does it mean? And why do the components of the fire triangle matter? Let’s find out!
Oxygen is self-explanatory; you simply need to let air in. Fires need to take in oxygen—it is essentially another form of fuel. But this is by far the most forgotten aspect of fire-starting. Amateur fire-builders end up placing the tinder, kindling, and firewood so close together that they clump up and block any such airflow, limiting the fire’s ability to fuel itself. You can do to allow air to flow throughout your fire lay by using tried and tested fire structures such as the teepee lay or log cabin. The key takeaway is to space out your wood. But doing this in excess can have unfortunate consequences, as will be seen below.
Although both oxygen and fuel are needed to sustain a fire, fuel is seemingly the opposite of oxygen. When you space out your firewood, you run the risk of depriving the fuel of your fire. Fuel is any combustible material: wood, paper, oils, etc. (but be careful what you throw into your fire: check out The Basics of Campfire Safety and How to Manage A Fire for some quick guidelines on common toxic materials). To have a strong-burning fire, keep your fuel touching each other to catch fire, or at least above/adjacent so the flames can spread. Natural fuels include tinder, kindling, and firewood, which you can learn more about with Kindling vs. Tinder and Firewood Tips. Yep, it’s really that simple!
And lastly, we have heat. Heat seems like a result of a fire, but it is what allows the fire to start. Once the fuel reaches a certain temperature, a fire can start. Adding a bit of heat in the beginning can start the fire, leading to more heat being produced. This process repeats itself indefinitely, the fire increasing each time until it is put out. The heat we commonly use are things like lighters, which provide both a starting flame and some heat.
Congrats! You now know the 3 components of the fire triangle, as well as how you can implement each of them. With this knowledge, you can now learn How To Start and Build A Fire.