Saturday, October 26, 2013

Making Fire

     Early humans may have found smoldering coals in burned out trees after a lightning strike.  Many think in a post apocalyptic world, fire will also be gathered for some time by gathering coals from the burning of civilization.  Possibly, for a time, that will be true.  But, surviving long term means having long term survival skills.   Fire making is a basic survival skill.
Let's start with the basics.
     To create and keep fire burning, fire requires fuel and oxygen.  Gather fuel first.  Make a bundle of tinder, a pile of small sticks or twists of paper and a pile of long burning branches or logs.  

     Tinder is dry lightweight combustible matter.  It can be dried grass, straw or paper shreds.  Sticks and there sizes good for adding to the fire as it builds are shown here in this picture courtesy of 

fire drill
fire pump
     Rubbing two sticks together will cause friction and create heat.  You can rub any two sticks together until they burst into flames if you have a few hours and several people to take turns. A second person can keep up the speed of rubbing the sticks together until they begin to smoke.  Also, the second person can blow on the smoke to bring oxygen to the base as the tinder is added.    

     Let us use friction and intelligence.  First, more friction is created when using soft wood.  A fire bow or fire drill gives you speed without wearing you down.  A fire pump drill uses hardly any energy except some brain work.  
Flint and Iron Pyrite |

     Spark can be achieved by striking iron against quarts stone.  In the wild of a fallen civilization  an old nail and a piece of flint will work.  Today, however we are blessed to be able to purchase and store magnesium fire strikers to make a lot of reliable spark.  Strike two pieces together over a bundle of dry tinder, blow smoking sparks into flame and add fuel to grow the fire!  

     If you have none of these things you can make spark with a battery and some wire or steel wool.  A copper wire, conducts electricity.  Strip out some wire at the ends, from a disabled vehicle or other machine not in use, place tinder bundle near the red or 'hot' terminal.  Wrap wire with copper exposed to the ground (black) terminal) and, holding the insulated portion of the wire, tap the hot terminal.  Just tap it and see where the sparks fly.  Catch them with the tinder.  Steel wool will ignite when tapped with a nine volt battery.  A little steel wool and a battery are compact and easier to carry than a car battery for fire making.  You could also invest in a solar charger and a dew rechargeable batteries.  Wikihow shows us a battery and a paperclip for sparking.

     Lucky for you if you stocked up on plenty of butane lighters or have a collection of Zippos, as I have.  Never throw away those lighters when you are out of fuel.  The flints will continue to spark for some time after the fuel is gone.  

     So, now we have fuel, spark and friction, oxygen and knowledge.  Continue to fan the flames of your small fire as you add larger fuel.  When the straw catches fire, add sticks.  Fan the flames then add larger sticks.  By this time you can add small branches as needed.  When the cooking is done, add a log to keep the fire or heat going through the night.  

     For years I have struggled with the men in my life thinking they had to create a wall of fire at the campsite.  You cannot cook over roaring flames.  We cook over coals and flames that do not lick the top of the pot.  This pot is too hot!  Fire safety and starting small for cooking is best.  You can even toast marshmallows over such a small safe flame.  So, try to start a fire, out of doors.  Get your fire skills practiced and be safe.


Sowpath das said...


James Terrier said...

When you need a fire and don't have the tools on you, rubbing two stick agains each other is the only way to go. To find out more about how to do it the best and fastest way, and to learn more than one method, I suggest checking out this tutorial: