Fire Lighting

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Friction Methods

Fire Plow
Prepare a tinder bundle, then take a piece of softwood for a base and use tour knife to carve a shallow channel down its length. Take a piece of hardwood thinner than the base but thicker than your thumb. Hold the base with your foot and place a pinch of sand in the channel, then place one end of the hardwood plow into the base of the channel and rub it backwards and forwards along the channel while applying lite downward pressure. As the friction creates enough heat to cause a constant plume of smoke, increase the speed and intensity of the plowing until you have a glowing ember.

Very carefully tip the ember into your tinder bundle and gently blow on it until the tinder bundle is alight.

Fire Drill
This method uses the tip of a straight, dry, hardwood stick spun, backwards and forwards,like a drill in a notch in a dry, softwood base until the friction creates an ember which can be uses to ignite the tinder.

Take a dry hardwood stick, as straight as you can find. This will be the drill. The drill should be about 40cm (16inch) long and about the thickness of your little finger. Use your knife to remove any bumps or branches (it is really important to get the drill as smooth as possible or you will end up with a lot of blisters). Once you have the drill really smooth, take a handful of sand in your shirt, place the drill on top, wrap your hand around the stick and run the stick back and forth through the sand to sand the drill and make it even smoother.

Now for the base. Take a larger, flatter piece of dry, softwood and use your knife to etch a small crater in the base; next to the edge, about half way along the length of the base. A ‘V’ shape is often carved in the side of the base with the tip of the V sitting in the center of the crater. This is called an ember well and is optional. The base should be secured with one foot while one end of the drill is placed in the crater and spun back and forth between the palms of the hands, starting at the top and working down as you apply downward pressure till you get to the bottom, then starting again from the top. A pinch of sand in the crater will help to create more friction. This will be hard tiresome work which may take an hour or more but it has been used for centuries and does work. The trick is to start slow but steady and pace yourself so that you don’t get tired. Once you start to see a constant plume of smoke, increase the speed and intensity of the drilling until you have a glowing ember.

Very carefully tip the ember into your tinder bundle and gently blow on it until the tinder bundle is alight.

Congratulations, you have now mastered the elements and should be feeling confident in your ability to make it home alive.

Bow and Drill
This method is essentially the same as the Fire Drill except a bow is used to spin the drill instead of your palms. By using a bow, a higher rate of spin can be applied to the drill for a longer period; therefore creating more friction to produce an ember with less effort.

To create a bow you will need a springy, green, stick (about 100cm long) and some cordage (about 90cm long). Use your knife to make a groove about 5mm deep around each end of the bow stick, about 3cm (1 inch) from the end. Tie one end of the cordage to one end of the bow stick, making sure that it is sitting in the groove. Bend the bow stick and then tie the other end of the cordage to the other end of the bow stick. The bow is now complete. Take the drill stick and lay it across the bow string wrapping the bow string around it once.

Now follow the drilling method but hold a piece of wood or stone on the top of the drill stick with one hand whilst spinning the drill stick by moving the bow back and forth with the other hand.

Using the Sun

Magnification Lens
This technique works best when the sun is shining brightly. Take a magnifying glass (some compasses have these), piece of curved clear glass from a bottle, watch face, binocular/camera lens or spectacles; or even a smoothed chunk of ice and hold it about 10cm away from your tinder bundle. Adjust its angle/direction so that the sun shining through it, forms a circular shape on your tinder. You now need to move the glass or ice nearer or farther from the tinder, whilst maintaining the circular shape of light, so that the suns rays concentrate into one fine circular point about the size of a pin head. Held in this position, the concentrated sun rays will generate enough heat to start the tinder smoldering; eventually igniting it.

Note: if using ice, be sure not to let any drips fall onto the tinder bundle.

In the absence of glass or ice, it is possible to improvise using some spit or water droplet suspended across a pin hole.
Place a pin-hole through a piece of card , bark, green leaf or paper ( a business card is ideal) and cover the hole with a drop of water or spit so that it is suspended across the hole and use it like a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun light. Starting a fire using this method is very difficult but may be a life saver when noting else is available.

Purpose Made Fire-lighting Devices

Flint and Striker
Flint and Striker sets are available at most camping and outdoors stores. They consist of a metal striker and flint rod which creates a shower of sparks when struck.

The flint and striker is a very effective and reliable piece of kit as it is lite, compact and works well in any environment, even when wet. This is an essential item for your survival tin.

Matches are often effective for lighting fire; however in a survival situation they will often get wet and become less effective. Running wet matches through your hair will often dry them. When striking wet matches, it is best to stab them against the packet that about a 30deg angle. Before going out, it pays to waterproof your matches by coating the heads on wax. The wax should be pealed off before use. When using matches, your aim should be one fire per match.

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