Some ideas are so simple they require very little explanation. The blow poker is one on them but it is an idea that a few people do not seem to have seen before, so here it is.
I guess we all know that fire needs three things in order to burn.
Heat. - Fuel. - Air.
Remove any of these and the fire fades, add any and the fire normally thrives.
Heat is provided by ignition and then the fire itself. Correct management of the fire will help to get the best out of the heat available.
Fuel of course is provided by the wood, charcoal or whatever other fuel you are using. Again correct management of the fire will ensure that the fuel is supplied when and where it is required.
Air is often the part that is overlooked, Too much fuel being dumped
on the fire is a classic way to choke a fire because it blocks off the flow of air. Lack of a good air flow can also cause the fuel to burn poorly resulting in smoke instead of flame.
Traditionally a pair of bellows hung near the fireplace in every home to encourage a reluctant fire, but the weight of such bellows is not something I would like to add to my backpack for any length of time.
If you are a cyclist perhaps you have a pump that could serve this purpose, but for most of
us it is a matter of wafting hands, cookware, hats or whatever else comes to hand. This usually results in ash and embers being blown everywhere.
Occasionally blowing into the fire on hands and knees is the only thing that will enliven a stubborn blaze.
A blow poker is simply a tube used to blow air into the fire in a controlled way.
A long tube can save you from having to get too close to the fire, which is obviously safer, but even a short tube will help to direct the air
more effectively into the fire where it is needed.
A metal tube can be used to prod the fire and move fuel into better positions hence the second part of the name, “poker.”
I use a broken old metal arrow shaft most of the time, it is strong but light and just about the right diameter to give a good strong blast of air when needed. I also carry a couple of metal skewers in it which strengthen it while packed.
I have used old
carbon fibre tube tent poles and even a plastic tube which could be rolled up and stored in a billy can. These worked well enough but could not be used to poke the fire, so I used a stick for that job instead.
Plant stalks can also be used if you know what to look out for, but beware of using plants you are unfamiliar with, as several plants with nice looking tubular stems are also quite poisonous.
Elder is a good tree to use as the branches have a soft pith that can easily be removed leaving a good and surprisingly strong tube for your purpose.
Use your imagination, I’m sure lots of ideas will come to you.
Another less conspicuous bit of handy kit you can see in the picture above is a pot chain. The one shown here is a length of about a meter of light brass links with a brass hook at each end that normally lives in my billy can.
Of course I could
just use a length of cord but that could burn. Hanging from a wooden pot hook involves the effort and finding the right bit and careful cutting to produce. A metal chain is fire proof, it can be used to bind three sticks together to make a tripod and it is very easy to adjust.
This brass one weighs a just over an ounce but I have lighter ones like the one shown with my hobo stove for if I’m travelling really light. Either way, I’ve never regretted carrying one when needing a simple way to hang my billy.
With a little ingenuity it can also be used to hang both ends of a skewer, also visible in shot, over the fire to roast meat or the like.