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Four Most Useful Fire Starting Methodologies

Four Most Useful Fire Starting Methodologies

imagesFire is incredibly valuable to our daily lives.  It is a good thing that in the modern world we have discovered how to harness it and use in such a way that it is not so messy.  Could you imagine flint and steel fire making each time you wanted to get warm, heat water, or cook at your house? So yes, I for one am glad we have some modern conveniences.  However we do not have those modern conveniences when we determine we want to go camping, bushcrafting, or when we find ourselves in a do-or-die survival situation.  

In this post we wanted to take a look at some of the methods for fire starting.  We all have our favorites don’t we?


Utilizing the Sun

When you focus or condense sunlight into one small point, it puts off an intense amount of heat.  Many of us have used a magnifying glass at one point in time to burn a leaf, or similar.  There are three that are common:

  • Fresnel lense is the most widely used by survivalists.  It is compact and easy to carry.
  • Make shift lenses such as water in a plastic bag, water on top of eyeglasses, and even a block of ice shaped to a lense.  
  • a concave (shape of a satellite dish) that is mirrored or has shiny surface the bottom of a soda can.  

Utilizing percussion

No we are not talking about pulling out the drum set.  Simply put percussion is when you strike to objects together to get some sort of spark.  I particularly love these methods because these tools work no matter what the weather. 

  • Flint and Steel, good ole Dan’l Boone would be proud of you for utilizing this one.  When you hit the steel against the flint ( a type of rock that is incredibly dense).  Small portions of the steel come off in a molten state.  You can then capture that and utilize it.  
  • Ferrocerium (ferro) rods are very prevalent today.  Ferro rods work similarly to fint and stell, when scraping the ferrocerium it come off in a large pile of sparks.  

 Utilizing Friction

Most often utilizing some organic material sticks, stalks etc and rubbing them together in a quick and direct manner to create hot “waste” material that can then be  utilized to build a fire.  For the beginner these are tough, and need lots of practice.  They are even tougher under moist conditions (even hi humidity)

  • Bow drill is my favorite.  Mainly because it is easier (for me) than these others.  It requires patience and effort in practice, but it is much like riding a bike.  Once you get it, you get it.  It still requires regular practice to be able to utilize it when you need it.  Downside to bow drill fire making is that it requires lot of parts and those parts to a beginner are hard to put together.  Particularly cordage if you are new to bushcrafting.  However, a nice solid boot string is hopefully there if you need it.
  • Hand drill only requires to pieces therefore it is easier to put together than bow drill.  However, those two pieces tend to be pretty particular in how they need to be formed.  Bow drill and hand drill work by rotating a round spindle on a fireboard.
  • Fire plow,  this is the version used by Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway.  It was definitely ‘dressed up’ for Hollywood in that some things that occurred in the movie simply do not work that way.  However the basis was there.  It is simply using one stick in a groove on another piece or organic material (wood, bamboo) to create hot charred material resembling saw dust.  

Utilizing electricity

When you have any electrical device that you can get power from and cause it to get increasingly hot, or to throw a spark then you can utilize that device to ignite tinder material.  

  • Using the positive and negative poles on a batteries to heat up any metallic object (gum wrapper, stell wool, paper clip) you can then use those ends to ignite the tinder. 
  • Remove a car battery and use jumper cables to get a fire started.  


You can now consider all the modern methods (like a hand held lighter) and find one of these methods as its parent.  There are some more methods out there, but we find that these are the ones that are most readily used by your average ordinary person.  We hope this “ignites” a fire within you to get out and practice some skills today or this weekend.  Come on, join in, let’s learn together!






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