Fire Making Skills (borrowed in large from "the art of manliness.com")
There is a primal link between man and fire. Every man should know how to start one. A manly man
knows how to start one without matches. It's an essential survival skill. You never know when you'll
find yourself in a situation where you'll need a fire, but you don't have matches. Maybe your single
engine plane goes down while you're flying over the Alaskan wilderness, like the kid in Hatchet. Or
perhaps you're out camping and you lose your backpack in a fight with a bear. It need not be
something as dramatic as these situations-even extremely windy or wet conditions can render matches
virtually uselessly. And whether or not you ever need to call upon these skills, it's just damn cool to
know you can start a fire, whenever and wherever you are.
Friction Based Fire Making
Friction based fire making is not for the faint of heart. It's probably the most difficult of all the
non-match based methods. There are different techniques you can use to make a fire with friction, but
the most important aspect is the type of wood you use for the fire board and spindle.
The spindle is the stick you'll use to spin in order to create the friction between it and the fireboard. If
you create enough friction between the spindle and the fireboard, you can create an ember that can be
used to create a fire. Cottonwood, juniper, aspen, willow, cedar, cypress, and walnut make the best
fire board and spindle sets.
Before you can use wood to start a friction based fire, the wood must be bone dry. If the wood isn't
dry, you'll have to dry it out first.
The Hand Drill
The hand drill method is the most primitive, the most primal, and the most difficult to do All you
need is wood, tireless hands, and some gritty determination. Therefore, it'll put more hair on your
chest than any other method. Here's how it's done:
Build a tinder nest. Your tinder nest will be used to create the flame you get from the spark you're
about to create. Make a tinder nest out of anything that catches fire easily, like dry grass, leaves,
Make your notch. Cut a v-shaped notch into your fire board and make a small depression adjacent
Place bark underneath the notch. The bark will be used to catch an ember from the friction
between the spindle and fireboard.
Start spinning. Place the spindle into the depression on your fire board. Your spindle should be
about 2 feet long for this to work properly. Maintain pressure on the board and start rolling the
spindle between your hands, running them quickly down the spindle. Keep doing this until an ember
is formed on the fireboard.
Start a fire! Once you see a glowing ember, tap the fire board to drop you ember onto the piece of
bark. Transfer the bark to your nest of tinder. Gently blow on it to start your flame.
Prepare your fireboard. Cut a groove in the fireboard. This will be your track for the spindle.
Rub! Take the tip of your spindle and place it in the groove of your fireboard. Start rubbing the tip of
the spindle up and down the groove.
Start a fire. Have your tinder nest at the end of the fireboard, so that you'll plow embers into as you're
rubbing. Once you catch one, blow the nest gently and get that fire going.
The bow drill is probably the most effective friction based method to use because it's easier to maintain
the speed and pressure you need to create enough friction to start a fire. In addition to the spindle and
fireboard, you'll also need a socket and a bow.
Get a socket The socket is used to put pressure on the other end of the spindle as you're rotating it
with the bow. The socket can be a stone or another piece of wood. If you use another piece of wood,
try to find a harder piece than what you're using for the spindle. Wood with sap and oil are good as it
creates a lubricant between the spindle and the socket.
Make your bow. The bow should be about as long as your arm. Use a flexible piece of wood that has
a slight curve. The string of the bow can be anything. A shoelace, rope, or strip of rawhide works
great. Just find something that won't break. String up your bow and you're ready to go.
Prepare the fireboard. Cut a v-shaped notch and create a depression adjacent to it in the fireboard.
Underneath the notch, place your tinder.
String up the spindle. Catch the spindle in a loop of the bow string. Place one end of the spindle in the
fireboard and apply pressure on the other end with your socket.
Start sawing. Using your bow, start sawing back and forth. You've basically created a rudimentary
mechanical drill. The spindle should be rotating quickly. Keep sawing until you create an ember.
Make your fire. Drop the ember into the tinder nest and blow on it gently. You got yourself a fire!
Flint and Steel
This is an old standby. It's always a good idea to carry around a good flint and steel set with you on a
camping trip. Matches can get wet and be become pretty much useless, but you can still get a spark
from putting steel to a good piece of flint. Consider using a BlastMatch or a Tool Logic SL3.
If you're caught without a flint and steel set, you can always improvise by using quartzite and the steel
blade of your pocket knife (You are carrying a knife, aren't you?). You'll also need char. Char is cloth
that has been turned into charcoal. Char catches a spark and keeps it smoldering without bursting into
flames. If you don't' have char, a piece of fungus or birch will do.
Grip the rock and char cloth. Take hold of the piece of rock between your thumb and forefinger.
Make sure an edge is hanging out about 2 or 3 inches. Grasp the char between your thumb and the
Strike! Grasp the back of the steel striker or use the back of your knife blade. Strike the steel against
the flint several times. Sparks from the steel will fly off and land on the char cloth, causing a glow.
Start a fire. Fold up your char cloth into the tinder nest and gently blow on it to start a flame.
Learn how to make char cloth & use flint & steel in this video
Lens Based Methods
Using a lens to start a fire is an easy matchless method. Any boy who has melted green plastic army
men with a magnifying glass will know how to do this. If you have by chance never melted green
plastic army men, here's how to do it.
To create a fire, all you need is some sort of lens in order to focus sunlight on a specific spot. A
magnifying glass, eyeglasses, or binocular lenses all work. If you add some water to the lens, you can
intensify the beam. Angle the lens towards the sun in order to focus the beam into as small an area as
possible. Put your tinder nest under this spot and you'll soon have yourself a fire.
The only drawback to the lens based method is that it only works when you have sun. So if it's night
time or overcast, you won't have any luck.
In addition to the typical lens method, there are three odd but effective lens based methods to start a
fire as well.
Balloons and Condoms
By filling a balloon or condom with water, you can transform these ordinary objects into fire creating
Fill the condom or balloon with water and tie off the end. You'll want to make it as spherical as
possible. Don't make the inflated balloon or condom too big or it will distort the sunlight's focal point.
Squeeze the balloon to find a shape that gives you a sharp circle of light. Try squeezing the condom in
the middle to form two smaller lenses.
Condoms and balloons both have a shorter focal length than an ordinary lens. Hold them 1 to 2 inches
from your tinder.
Fire from ice
Fire from ice isn't just some dumb cliché used for high school prom themes. You can actually make fire
from a piece of ice. All you need to do is form the ice into a lens shape and then use it as you would
when starting a fire with any other lens. This method can be particularly handy for wintertime camping.
Get clear water. For this to work, the ice must be clear. If it's cloudy or has other impurities, it's not
going to work. The best way to get a clear ice block is to fill up a bowl, cup, or a container made out
of foil with clear lake or pond water or melted snow. Let it freeze until it forms ice. Your block should
be about 2 inches thick for this to work.
Form your lens. Use your knife to shape the ice into a lens. Remember a lens shape is thicker in the
middle and narrower near the edges.
Polish your lens. After you get the rough shape of a lens, finish the shaping of it by polishing it with
your hands. The heat from your hands will melt the ice enough so you get a nice smooth surface.
Start a fire. Angle your ice lens towards the sun just as you would any other lens. Focus the light on
your tinder nest and watch as you make a once stupid cliché come to life.
The Coke Can and Chocolate Bar or Toothpaste
All you need is a soda can, a bar of chocolate, and a sunny day.
Polish the bottom of the soda can with the chocolate or toothpaste. The chocolate/toothpaste acts as
a polish and will make the bottom of the can shine like a mirror.
Make your fire. After polishing the bottom of your can, what you have is essentially a parabolic
mirror. Sunlight will reflect off the bottom of the can, forming a single focal point. It's kind of like how
a mirror telescope works.
Point the bottom of the can towards the sun. You'll have created a highly focused ray of light aimed
directly at your tinder. Place the tinder about an inch from the reflecting light's focal point. In a few
seconds you should have a flame.
Batteries and Steel Wool
I don't usually have a lot of 9 volt batteries that
I carry around but let's say you're camping,
you have some steel wool like an SOS pad
and a transistor radio that takes a 9 volt. here
you go. (You would probably need to wash all
the soap out of the SOS pad and maybe it is
too course of steel wool to work like this.)
Stretch out the Steel Wool. You want it to
be about 6 inches long and a ½ inch wide.
Rub the battery on the steel wool. Hold the
steel wool in one hand and the battery in the
other. Any battery will do, but 9 volt batteries
work best. Rub the side of the battery with the
"contacts" on the wool. The wool will begin to
glow and burn.
Gently blow on it. Transfer the burning wool
to your tinder nest. The wool's flame will
extinguish quickly, so don't waste any time.
There is a ton of other innovative ways to start fires. We hope you found this information interesting