#AskPaulKirtley Episode 47: Optimal Tinder Bundle Airflow, Tooth Problems, Keeping Kit Dry, Bushcraft Training Advice

#AskPaulKirtley Episode 47: Optimal Tinder Bundle Airflow, Tooth Problems, Keeping Kit Dry, Bushcraft Training Advice

Ask Paul Kirtley Episode 47 card

In this episode of #AskPaulKirtley I answer questions on outfitting canoes, tooth problems on trips, finding wildlife while out wandering, saponins, chickweed and birch, blowing tinder bundles into flame (optimal positioning), keeping gear dry on hikes, bushcraft course advice, changing your ways and learning new things in bushcraft.

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Links For This Episode of #AskPaulKirtley

Ray Goodwin’s Canoe Outfitting Article

Photos Mentioned In The Episode

Night navigation. Photo: Ray Goodwin
Testing what can be done with tracking techniques. Photo: Ray Goodwin.
Solo sailing as a squally snow shower comes in. Photo: Ray Goodwin.
From sun to snow and back again. Photo Ray Goodwin.
Upper Conwy. Photo: Ray Goodwin.

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Leave A Comment…

Leave me a comment below. Don’t forget to let me know the three areas of bushcraft you want to improve upon in 2017…

Related Material On Paul Kirtley’s Blog:

#AskPaulKirtley Episode 19: Bow Drill With Natural Cordage & Ember Consistency, Top 3 Bushcraft Focus Areas, Beginner & Budget Axes

Bushcraft: Join The Route To Mastery

Never Stop Learning: Pushing Your Comfort Zone


25 thoughts on “#AskPaulKirtley Episode 47: Optimal Tinder Bundle Airflow, Tooth Problems, Keeping Kit Dry, Bushcraft Training Advice

  1. Great episode – thanks, I find lots to think about from these and really appreciate the time put in. I can fully concur with the comments regarding military experience and bushcraft; while the military experience is useful and relevant it is pretty different to the bushcraft that is taught by Paul. The best way to understand this is to do a course – which I did, and highly recommend. However, beware as it can become a little addictive and will leave you wanting more. I did go on the course with a certain amount of scepticism, under the belief that my military training would be at a “higher” level in some ways, but also an open mind; I was very surprised at the quality of the content and the instruction I received and quickly had to accept my preconception was wrong. It is fair to say that over half of the content was stuff that I had covered in my military training but the emphasis was on different aspects and threw a different light on the subject. I left with the view that “military survival” and bushcraft are two quite different things though clearly are related quite closely and have some cross over. Further, I was particularly impressed with the way the instructors involved others and wanted to hear their points of view, and I am sure they were learning too.

    At the end of the episode Paul talks about not being dogmatic about doing things his way, which is very interesting; I have found that when an individual has some knowledge, and they take to teaching, they can be protective of their limited knowledge and rather dogmatic, when they have a large amount of knowledge, and are correctly confident in their ability they become less so and are more willing to listen and learn along the way. This is what I found when i went on a Frontier course. Keep up the good work.

    1. Hi Mick, thanks for your comments. I appreciate your insight, both from having received training in both military survival and bushcraft but also from your martial arts training and teaching perspective. The latter has certainly made you an exemplary student of bushcraft, open to new learning and willing to put in the work. I find these areas of overlap, particularly in what makes an effective mind-set for learning, training and practise fascinating.

      Warm regards,


  2. Sorry forgot the areas :

    Tracking and observing nature (and taking nice pictures of them)
    Camp craft
    Natural Craft work

    and going on more short expeditions….

  3. Hey Paul,

    One again a good episode, I really enjoy listening.

    I wanted to reply to the question about teeth problems. I had once a problem in the weekend, so I couldn’t go to the dentist. I had such a terrible pain I couldn’t do anything. Painkillers like ibuprofen, paracetamol etc just didn’t work then. I discovered that when I brushed my teeth, the pain got away for a short period of time. In fact I rinsed my mouth with cold water. This may sound silly, but ice cold water on my tooth was the option to stop the terrible pain. Yes it does hurt a lot for some seconds, but the the pain then stops for a few minutes. What I did was rinsing my mouth periodically till I had an appointment on Monday.

    This could be a good method when nothing is available on the trail.

    Thanks again for your time,


  4. Hi Paul,

    Great info as usual and thanks for all your content. My 3 areas are…
    1. Light a fire by bow drill!
    Despite being interested in bushcraft since the first Lofty Wiseman book, despite reading all the articles, watching all the vids, etc. etc., I have really only attempted it twice (insert appropriate clever emoji here ha ha)

    2. Stop making excuses for not going on hikes/trips!
    I’m lucky to have a job that is based in the outdoors about 50% of the time. Despite that (or perhaps because of it), I constantly make excuses for not going on trips/hikes. “I’m too busy”, “I don’t have time”, “that fence needs painting”, etc. Whatever knowledge I think I have, it’s all for nothing if it’s not put into practice.

    3. See 1 and 2!


  5. Hi Paul,
    I am thoroughly enjoying your YouTube videos and the information therein. As a recently retired Dentist, I can tell you that Ibuprofen is, by far, the most efficacious OTC (over the counter) tooth pain analgesic available in Canada ( and North America). Maximum dosage of about 1800mg per day. The liquid gel caps give the fastest relief.
    Keep up the great work. I have recently outfitted a backpack, mostly on your advice, for day trips, as my wife and I are bored with just walking around town. We each have a bad knee, so we’re not going terribly far afield, but looking forward to the Spring, when we can take to the woods and shorelines. I have all the standard emergency kit (fire steel, matches, bandages, whistle, light, space blankets, and my prize…a new Mora Black Bushcraft) and am hoping never to need them.
    Winter has been mild here, so far. I hate shovelling, so hope the snow just falls on the ski hills where I ski.
    All the best.

  6. Paul,
    a follow-up to Lode’s comments on ice water. Cold water will strongly irritate a live tooth which is “unhappy” due to a crack, lost filling, recent trauma, etc., but will give relief to a tooth which is abscessed. However, rinsing with warm water may give relief to a tooth which is traumatised, but is also good for an abscessed tooth, as it draws the pus to the surface, allowing the pressure in the abscess to be relieved…leading to less discomfort. NEVER put a hot pack on the side of the face if an abscess is suspected, as it might draw the pus to the face, leaving a surface fistula which may leave a permanent scar. Dental infections can, very occasionally, be fatal if ignored, so, my advice is, if you have dental pain during a trip and can bail out and get to a dentist immediately…do it!

  7. I think that I mentioned the fact that I was an instructor of survival techniques in South Africa when I first subscribed to your blog. I enjoy many of your episodes and other info on videos etc. Watching episode 47, I remembered that when you blow on your tinder bundle it is also important to take the fire triangle into consideration, namely: fuel, oxygen and a heat nucleus. If you blow too hard you lose the heat nucleus. That is why it is wise to blow softly and thus not disturbing the build up of heat which is necessary for combustion.
    I would like to learn more about edible (and toxic) plants in the Northern Hemisphere, also more about survival in very cold conditions and lastly, ideas of how to survive for extended periods (months, years) in the wilderness.

  8. Hi Paul,
    Thanks for another interesting episode!

    Here in Scotland, I have also noticed a definite shift towards spring with certain tree buds (of tree seedlings) colouring up or even breaking into leaf! This has been quite surprising as trees are generally the last to be fooled by spells of mild weather.

    With regard to the question of wildlife watching, I live in a rural area with a lot of small stretches of woodland as well as larger tracts.
    It might seem a better deal to walk the larger forests, but I tend to stick to the smaller woodland walks (as, like the dentists above, I too have a dodgy knee that cannot be trusted to do too much). Yet, I find that it really isn’t absolutely necessary to go off the beaten track all that often in order to have animal encounters (I once met with a red deer stag on my back doorstep, which was actually rather more unnerving than it sounds). But I find that walking regular routes throughout the year opens your eyes to where animals occur, and are likely to keep reoccurring.
    For instance, an otter always used to fish the same stretch of river, near the same bridge, just a couple of miles from me. He was a very regular, practically guaranteed sight, and I rarely saw him anywhere else.
    Last autumn, on finding several patches of Fly Agaric mushroom on the edge of a pine plantation, I discovered I was assured several very good views of deer at reasonably close quarters (deer are apparently very keen on this particular mushroom).
    In the same area, I surprised a fox, who was in no real hurry to get away from me. So I wonder if he had also been dining on this ‘potent’ fungi too!
    Perhaps getting to know where certain fungi species grow (Boletes, and some Brittlegills, as well as the aforementioned Fly Agaric) will help wildlife enthusiasts in their pursuit for wildlife encounters?

    Again, many thanks for the vids,

  9. Hi Paul,

    I wanted to add to your advice on the tinder bundle. In my experience, if you hold it up above the face there is a risk of small bits of the burning bundle falling on you. I was holding the tinder bundle too high and just before the point of ignition, when its billowing with smoke, small bits of hot material were blown out and fell onto me. I wasn’t hurt but I do now have a few holes in that shirt.

    As for areas to work on, I’m reading a lot about natural navigation as well as working on my bind craft, which has been largely overlooked as I normally have paracord on me. But my main focus is on trying to integrate my bushcraft into my daily life so I use the skill and “make it my own”. I have a reasonable breadth of knowledge and can talk the talk but when it comes to practical application I find I’m painfully slow. That’s something that will only improve with regular practice in a real world scenario, we’re you need to be efficient in order to get things done.

  10. Hello Paul, another very informative video covering different subjects. It always pays ( when watching your videos) to have your notebook and pen handy to make notes myself. My 3 areas of improvement are, Tree and Plant id. Primitive fire starting and Tracking.Kind regards David.

  11. Hi Paul,

    Another great podcast. I’m always amazed at all of the great content that you provide off the cuff. The three areas of bushcraft skills that I would like to focus on this year:

    1. Fire lighting. This includes all means of starting fires. I’ve only successfully started a fire by bowdrill three times, and don’t practice this skill often at all. I have an old set that I created early last year, and I suppose that I’ll practice with that to get my form down, and then move on to items directly from the forest. Additionally, i would like to practice more with my fire steel, and in particular, work on finding proper tinder in my area. I’m moving the Washington state (from Kentucky) to work as a forester, so I’m very excited to work with unfamiliar natural materials.

    2. Work on foraging wild edibles on the Pacific Northwest Coast. Again, I’m very excited to figure out more about the natural resources in a temperate rainforest.

    3. Natural navigation… Could be more challenging in Washington with less sun exposure? Or maybe shelter building… Or just generally spending more time outdoors and trying to find a community in Washington that revolves around outdoor living.

    I hope you’re well! Thanks again for the great content!

    – Patrick

  12. Regarding your answer to the “tooth pain” question: You are spot on with your advice to have regular dental care. I would say that 90% of dental emergency visits could be eliminated if the patients had had regular, periodic preventive care. Yes, there is always the scenario where blunt trauma from an errant canoe paddle or the like causes a dental emergency while out in the backcountry but, more often, tooth pain arises from an untreated carious lesion (i.e. tooth decay) or a partial enamel fracture or a pulpal infection spreading from the root tip of the tooth. These common causes of tooth pain can be diagnosed and treated with regular preventive care thus eliminating the pain, expense and bother of a dental emergency while out on a wilderness adventure.

  13. hi paul
    thanks for this episode most greatful.
    as for the three areas im workung on ,
    navigation as i think with this i would feel alot more comfortable .
    2.tracking and nature obs would like to know what im looking at and what is in and happen in the area . 3. friton fire lighting . and a cheeky 4 . frist aid


  14. Hi Paul,
    In answer to your request about my 3 bushcraft improvement areas for 2017.

    They are 1 Navigation
    2 All aspects of firelighting
    3 Campcraft
    Regards Harry

  15. I mentioned the heat nucleus in my comment above, but I want to add another tip. I always carry in my bug out bag a length of thin rope (about 1cm diameter) made of pure cotton (not mixed with synthetic fibers and tightly woven). When you have an ember formed by whatever method, it is usually unstable and easily breaks apart. Hold a short piece of the cotton rope to the ember and transfer the fire to the rope. This will glow for hours depending on the length of the cotton rope and can then be used to light your bundle. Travelling from one campsite to another the glowing rope can used to easily start a fire at the next campsite. Swing the piece of rope while you’re walking and it will keep on glowing until you reach your destination.

  16. Hey Paul,

    Awesome work loved the epsiode. My three items

    1. Friction fires. I would love to obtain a handdrill ember this year. I had maybe a dozen failed attempts so far, i might resort to outsourcing a proper hand drill or let it season itself inside so i can work on technique, Then continue on gathering all pieces. outside at the time of preparing the fire.

    2. Plant ID as always…

    3.Natural Navigation. I read the book Natural Navigator on your recommendation last year. and would like to make a couple day outing and really put the skills to the test!

    Thanks again paul!

    – Pete

  17. Hi Paul,

    These are my three focus points for 2017:

    1) Tree and plant identification;
    2) Brushing off my navigational skills;
    3) Firelighting with matches/lighter/magnesium rod.

    Warm regards,


  18. Hi Paul,
    Thanks for another interesting and thought provoking episode. I would have to say my 3 main focal areas for this year will be:
    A) Read up on using natural navigation rather than relying just on maps and compasses.
    B) Read up more on wild edibles, and how to process any that cannot be digested easily.
    C) Pass on as much knowledge, and spend time to help my son to stay interested by giving him the chance to practice and to give praise and support more.
    All the best, Dave.

  19. I don’t comment much here if ever, but I do read your stuff and listen to your podcasts.

    So I just wanted to say THANK YOU, please keep adding good stuff, it’s good and people should know more about you, I’ll share.


  20. Hello paul thanks again for all your hard work with the podcasts
    My 3 areas are:
    1. Flint knapping
    2. Plant and tree ID
    3. Natural cordage

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  22. Things are very open and intensely clear explanation of issues. was truly information. Your website is very beneficial.

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