Firecraft Survival

5 Ways to Build a Fire

There are few skills that are as important as making fire. Battling the cold, fighting off hypothermic conditions, detouring mosquitos, warding off predators, cooking food, purifying water, creating visible light and flat out boosting morale are all things achieved through the building of a fire in the woods. Simply put, if you’re planning on spending time in the outdoors, firecraft is key. Not only is making fire important but being able to make it using different methods is also paramount, given that Mother Nature and her ways are as unpredictable as the future itself. Here are 5 solid ways to start a fire:

Hand Drill Method:

Coming to us by way of the Stone Age, this is one of the oldest methods of creating fire in existence. It is a true primitive survival skill. The hand drill creates fire through friction. It is important to note that “rubbing two sticks together” as the Old-Timers would say isn’t exactly how this works. You will need two pieces of wood, these pieces are called a drill and a baseboard, and the type of wood matters. The wood must not be so soft that it crumbles when pressure is applied. Solid wood options for the hand drill method are Aspen, Elderberry, Sotol, Basswood or Willow. By spinning the drill (the longer thinner stick) and “drilling” into a pilot hole on the baseboard (the wider thicker piece of wood), a person can create a small coal that is then placed in a tinder bundle and nursed with long heavy breaths.

Bow Drill

Similar to the hand-drill method, and just as prehistoric, the bow drill creates fire through friction as well. The bow-drill method requires the same pieces of wood that the hand-drill method does, however there are three more pieces needed. In addition to the drill (aka spindle) and the baseboard, you will need a hand piece (or bearing block), a bow (bow-shaped piece of wood) and a string. The string is tied to either end of the bow similar to an archer’s bow. To operate the bow drill, hold the spindle to the baseboard and cap it with the bearing block on top. Twist the bow string around the spindle once, making certain that it is secured tightly enough so as not to slip during operation. Take a knee, place your foot on the baseboard, and while holding the bearing block firmly, pull the bow back and forth. This will create friction needed to produce a coal on the baseboard.  

Fire Plow

Yet another friction-fire technique, the fire plow is powered by two pieces of wood and a “give ‘em hell” attitude. It truly does not get much more basic than this, however creating fire in this way takes an enormous amount of effort. A benefit of this method is that you do not need any tools at all. First, find a plow stick. The best types of wood for this are cottonwood, and stool. To be clear, the plow is the stick you will be pushing. Your plow should be about a foot long, and come to a point at the end. The first inch of the stick should be approximately half an inch wide. The more narrow the tip, the more concentrated the heat will be. Next, you will need a base log. You base log needs to be sturdy, although it doesn’t need to be an actual log. Just make sure it is at least three inches wide.

To operate the fire plow, rub the plow up and down against the base log until you create a coal.

Magnifying Glass

This is perhaps one of the simplest and least strenuous ways to create fire. First, find or create a wad of dry tinder. Paper will work also. Hold the magnifying glass over your tinder, infront of the sun. This will make a small dot of light appear on your tinder/paper. Adjust the magnifying glass so that the dot is as small as possible and circular shaped. Although this method is less physically exhausting than the above friction methods of making fire, it is time consuming and requires direct sunlight for optimum function. It can take up to 4 hours to actually get a flame to emerge.  

Battery and Gum Wrapper

Though primitive firecraft is some of the most useful knowledge a man can possess, the modern world is also full of materials that can help you quickly make a fire. The battery and gum wrapper method is both simple as well as time efficient. All you need is a pair of scissors, a AA battery, and a gum wrapper with a metallic side to it. This will not work with a gum wrapper made of only paper. We suggest “Wrigley’s 5” or “Extra” brands.

Cut a thin strip from your wrapper. Then, fold your strip in half and cut across it at a 45degree angle. When unfolded your strip of gum wrapper should have a narrow portion in the middle. Now, connect the metallic sides of the gum wrapper to the ends of the battery.

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