11 Ways to Start a FireFebruary 25, 2015 by Melanie Swick | 3 Comments
A fire can mean the difference between facing hypothermia or enjoying a warm night of sleep.
It’s easy to start a fire with matches or a lighter, but since they won’t always be available, it’s wise to become skilled at other methods.
Don’t become dependent on any one technique or tool though—spend time learning and practicing several methods in various environments for the greatest chance of survival.
Here are eleven ways to start a fire.
My favorite way to start a fire is with a ferrocerium rod because they last damn near forever and will work even when wet. Simply scrape the metal striker or a knife down the rod to spray a shower of hot sparks onto your tinder.
Flint and Steel
This method has been used since the beginning of recorded history, and like the ferro rod, is a reliable way to start a fire. It’s a little more difficult though, because the sparks produced aren’t anywhere near as hot or plentiful.
Remember frying ants with a magnifying glass as a kid? Focus that heat on a bundle of tinder and you’ll have a fire in no time. The upside is that you can find these lenses in common equipment like binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras—even your eye glasses. The downside is that you can only use this method during the daytime.
The bow drill is a great primitive fire starting method because all you need is a couple of sticks and a piece of cord. Tie your cord to both ends of the bow and loop it around the drill twice, then a sawing motion will cause it to rotate rapidly between the base and hand piece and create a small, hot ember that you can drop in your tinder.
Battery and Foil
It should be pretty easy to find at least a single AA battery, whether in your own gear or in an abandoned building, and along with a piece of aluminum foil (or a foil-backed gum wrapper) you can quickly and easily start a fire. This method uses the resistance of electrons traveling through the foil to produce heat, which in turn, ignites your tinder.
This method is similar to starting a fire with a magnifying glass, in fact, the curves focus light in exactly the same way as it passes through the bottle. Just like with women, bigger curves are better. You can use a colored bottle, but you’ll get better results with a clear bottle.
Brake Fluid and Chlorine
Only use this method in a wide open space because the flame produced will vary depending on the concentration of the chemicals. Brake fluid (polyethylene glycol) can be found in your vehicle or garage, while chlorine (pool shock, also known as calcium hypochlorite) can be found with pool supplies. Mix them together and in about 2 minutes, you’ll have a powerful flame.
The unfortunate fact that soda and beer cans litter our wilderness could save your life in a survival situation. First you’ll need to polish the concave bottom. You can use chocolate, toothpaste, or even clay as a polishing compound, and then aim the bottom at the sun, focusing the concentrated rays onto a piece of char cloth or other tinder.
This fire starting technique uses friction, but it’s probably one of the more difficult way to start a fire. You form a groove or notch in your base piece and plow another piece of wood back and forth in that groove until you produce an ember.
Battery and Steel Wool
The resistance of electrons moving through the fine fibers of steel wool causes them to heat to the point of ignition. All you need to do is stretch a bundle of steel wool to bridge the positive and negative poles of a battery. It needs to be stretched thin enough to provide enough resistance but thick enough to produce enough heat to ignite your tinder.
Do you have a favorite fire-starting technique that’s not listed here? Let us know in the comments below!