Wednesday, March 20, 2013

5 Unusual Ways to Make a Fire

     One of the most important skills in wilderness survival is the ability to make a fire. Fires allow us to do everything from cook food and purify water, to keeping us warm and warding off predators. When going out into the wilderness your best bet is to take an easy fire starter such as a lighter with you at all times. However if you find yourself lost in the wild, and in need of a fire, there are some more unusual methods that people have created to make fire.

1. Fire from Ice
     Ice is the opposite of fire in so many ways, and therefore seems like an unlikely option for starting a fire. However because of its hard smooth surface, ice can actually be used to great effect to start a fire.

     One method of starting a fire is by using a lens to reflect light, much as a child would do with an ant and a magnifying glass. However, when you don't have a lens avilable, ice makes the next best thing.

     The first thing you want to start with is a large chunk of clear ice. The ice being clear is important because it will not work as well, or at all if your ice is dirty. Also your chunk of ice being large is also important, because that will determine how large your lens can be.

     Once you have your ice, you want to use a knife or a rock to shape your lense. You want your lens to be thickest in the middle, at least two inches, and thin out as it gets to the edges of the ice. Once you have your basic shape, use your hands and your body heat to melt the ice to create a smooth surface, to better collect and focus the light from the sun.

     At this point you can use your ice just like any other lens. You want to use direct sunlight and tilt your lens to get the most concentrated point of light possible, and place that on your tinder. It may take some time to work, but as long as you have good light to work with, it should be a sure fire way to get a fire going.

2. Fire from Coke and Chocolate
     This is one of those fire starting methods that sounds like it comes out of an urban legend, but in fact its true. A coke can and chocolate are a great way to start a fire. This technique again involves making a lens to focus light and heat. The coke can is going to be your lens. The bottom of a coke can has a curved shape to it, making it perfect for using as a lens to get a fire going. There is, however, one problem with it. It's not shiny enough to do what you want it to do. This is where the chocolate comes in.

     Take the chocolate and start smearing it on the bottom of the can. Once you have a fair layer of it on there, use the wrapper to buff the can. The combination of the chocolate and the wrapper buffing the bottom of the can, will create a mirror like shine to the bottom of the can. It usually takes anywhere from a half an hour to an hour to get a smooth shiny finish on the can, but when you have fire because of it, the time will be worth it.

    Don't have chocolate? There are other materials, such as toothpaste, that will buff your can the same way.

3. Fire from Steel Wool and a Battery
     Yes, steel wool, the scratchy pad thing that you use to scrub pots that don't want to come clean. It doesn't look like a fire starter to most people, until you show them exactly what you can do with it and a battery. Other than a lighter or a match, this is perhaps the easiest fire starter you can use.

     The concept is simple. When you connect two sides of a battery, an electric charge will travel between the two points. Steel wool, can act as conductor, however, the steel wool fibers arn't strong enough to hold the electric charge with out burning up.

     See how this works? When you connect two ends of a battery (preferably a nine volt for ease of use) the fibers that are conducting the battery charge begin to burn, and you have instant fire.


4. Fire from Stone
     We've all seen that cartoon of a caveman banging a couple of rocks together, making a spark, and discovering fire. Well, just like flint and steel, it can actually work that way. Obviously if you have flint, then you have a good material to start working with. However, you don't neccessarily need flint to get a spark from rocks. Any hard rock like quartz will do the job.

     Now if your thinking of the easy sparks you can get with flint and steel, think again. While it sounds like an easy fire starting method, anyone who has actually tried knows different.

     To get a better understanding of how it works, and how you can make it work check out Allan "Bow" Beauchamp's article about it on Wildwood Survival here.  I would write about it on the blog itself, but I think this article gives a great explanation on how this works that really can't be beat.

5. Starting Fire from a Flashlight
     No you cannot start a fire from shining your flashlight at a pile of tinder long enough. However if you take your tinder to the flashlight, you may be able to get somewhere. This method is just as easy as the steel wool, and is similar to it as well.

     Just like with the steel wool, the lightbulb in your flashlight has a wire that conducts electricity from the batteries. When it is conducting electricity it glows, which produces the light from your flashlight. The key to this method is getting that wire in contact with your tinder.

     This means that you have to break your flashlight, and that is perhaps the hardest part of this method. If you have a different way to start a fire, then try that method first because that will allow you to continue to use your flashlight. If you don't, then give this a go.

    What you want to do is break the glass in your flashlight. This does not mean just smash it against a rock. You need to break the glass gently enough so you leave the filiment from the lightbulb intact. You'll know if you succeeded because the wire will still glow when you turn on your flashlight.

     Once you have your wire exposed, simply take a tinder bundle and gently place it into the cup of the flashlight and turn it on. The heat from the lightbulb filiment should light your tinder on fire and you'll have a crackling fire in no time.

     Ingenuity is always a great trait to have when you are trying to survive and these unique fire starting methods prove it. So if your ever in need of a fire, keep these methods in mind, because they may be the only thing between you and a cold fireless night.


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