How to Light a Fire in Moist Conditions

Mtn Talk Adventure Blog - D-Hump
David Humphreys – Co-Founder of MTN Talk

We’ve all been there—hunched over a damp pile of sticks, trying with all our might to get a fire started in wet conditions. Sometimes, these wet conditions call for desperate measures…

One of my fondest childhood memories was when my father drenched a pile of wood in gasoline and asked me to light it. I can still smell my burnt hair today.

As summer fades to autumn, the damp woods bring a new set of challenges to every adventurer. This includes building a fire in less than ideal conditions. So to prepare us all for the wetness to come, here are a few quick tips to lighting a fire in soggy conditions.

how to light a fire in wet conditions

Find Your Match on Tinder!

Tinder is a good dating app and an even better fire starter! These little bits of fuel are the most important ingredient to a good fire. To find good tinder in damp conditions, seek out needle bearing trees. These are your firs, pines and spruces, and they all tend to have super sappy wood lying on the ground underneath an umbrella of tree branches.


For a second source of tinder, look for standing dead vegetation with bark on it. Cut it down, tear away the bark, and find the dry wood inside!

how to light a fire in wet conditions using tinder

Split some wood with the might of Thor.

Harnessing the strength of ancient gods, cut up several dead branches lengthwise. This will expose the dry interior of each piece of wood.

how to light a fire in moist conditions

Build a pyramid—or a tipi.

Since learning how to build my first fire in Boy Scouts, I am partial to the tipi fire structure. This cone-shaped arrangement provides much needed airflow to the hungry flames. You can also build a log cabin, dome or a Barbie doll house if that’s what you’re into!

Be sure to load up the base of your structure with tinder. This makes all the difference!

Quick Tip: This would also be a prime time to whip out a waterproof fire starter (if you have one handy).

Light it up, up, up. I’m on fiyaaa!

Two quick tips to lighting the fire: light it from the windward side and start the flame low. This technique will allow your fire to trickle up the tinder and into the larger wood above with the wind pushing it along the way. Stand by with a bundle of tinder in case your flame needs a little more juice, and prepare to blow into the fire if more oxygen is necessary.

Before you know it, you’ll be admiring your work like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.

Starting a fire in wet conditions


We hope you found this how-to interesting and insightful. Do you have some tips you’d like to share with other readers? Please feel free to leave some of your tried-and-true fire starting techniques in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!


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