FIRE is the second most important, critical, and essential element of surviving in the wild, because it's used for so many aspects of survival:
Warmth can be the difference between life and death. If it's super cold at night, or if you're wet and need to get dry, then there's potential for frostbite! A good fire can replace proper clothing and gear if you find yourself unprepared because you weren't expecting a true survival situation.
Fire repels bugs, critters, and creatures, because they sense it as a danger.
Hydration is vital, especially if you're sick or injured or are enduring high-intensity activities. Boiling water over fire provides a safe, effective means of purification. Water is another factor that can easily be the difference between life and death; if you drink contaminated water and end up sick or with diarrhea, you will actually be dehydrating yourself and will no longer be able to function or could even die.
If escape or exit is not possible (maybe due to injury), you can still gather materials to light a bonfire at an opportunistic moment for rescue, such as when a plane flies over or a boat comes. Fire can also be used for smoke signals.
As I've said before, it's wise to carry certain survival items with you wherever you go in your pockets or a fanny pack or small backpack. These essentials are a knife, cordage, and fire starter. Clearly, fire starter is a foundational piece, because fire covers so many basic needs.
Fire competency is a worthwhile skill. It's not just about prepping for a situation that hopefully will never happen! These bush crafting skills are tools that can benefit day-to-day life.
In the Garden of Eden, these types of skills are much more relevant for us, even though we're not in a survival situation. Year-round, we cook on outdoor, earthen, wood-burning rocket stoves. We fed 40,000 free meals last year, all cooked over fire! We are connected with fire on a regular basis.
In the wintertime, our water is heated by, our home is heated by, and our food is cooked on a wood burning stove, and that's a different type of fire to manage! Without the right fuel, it's not burning properly, so the food doesn't cook properly--it burns or takes too long to cook. We get many, many opportunities to practice with fire given the lifestyle we choose.
In modern America, we've got entire generations growing up scared of fire! They're never around it, and it's considered this very dangerous thing. Having a competent relationship with fire is way more important than 98% of what we learn in school. It can easily be built into our daily life without requiring money or special tools, and we develop a more empowered relationship with it.
I'm holding a lighter, and there's no fire. I flick it, and instantaneously there's fire! The flame is not very big, and there's no way you can light your fireplace logs solely with this lighter--I have enough experience with fire to know this! My experience tells me how hot and powerful and strong any flame is, and exactly what it can and can't burn.
Fires can only get as big as the fuel allows. Fires have a max capacity or full efficiency where you get the most amount of flame for the least amount of fuel and fuel loss (smoke). Any fire that has smoke is not an optimal fire! it's not burning efficiently.
Clearly, if smoke is your goal for communication or some such, obviously you don't want to burn it at that peak heat. That requires a different approach to building and maintaining a fire. So we can make a long burning, smoldering, smoky fire, or we can make an intensely hot, intensely bright fire that quickly burns fuel. It depends on the situation you need from fire.
This lighter is the extent of most people's current relationship with fire, and it's a classic example of human culture: a little, disposable, cheap device. However, it's still potentially one of the best things you could have on hand if you're ever in a survival situation! It's convenient and easy to carry wherever you go. Having a lighter is one of the most useful and beneficial things you could possibly have!
This lighter is full of liquid gas. The fire is created by the spark from the flint--a circular metal file with little grooves on it. When you flick it with your thumb, friction creates a spark. If either component--gas or spark--is missing, you will not get flame.
The gas feeds the flame. Once it is lit, it will continue to burn as long as there is fuel. If the fire stops, you need another spark to ignite the gas again.
The bigger it gets, the more calories it requires to function. If you have a fire that's been burning on a steady fuel, as soon as that fuel is gone the fire goes out. Doesn't matter how big or hot it is; if there's no fuel, it goes out. Period.
To start a fire without gas requires we start with a small fire and work our way up to a bigger blaze, we have to feed and grow and nurture the fire. In a real survival situation, a lighter might be the extent of what you have. You need to be aware you'll never light a log from a lighter; it takes a process of starting small and building into bigger and bigger fires.