The history and origin of how man was able to make and control fire is clouded, but once man was able to conjure up fire, there was no looking back. For generations fire provided us a light in the dark, warmth from the cold, cooked food, a means of communication, protection from predators and comfort in the night. Some parts of the world still rely daily on fire in these ways. If you are ever in a survival situation, starting a fire will always be one of your top priorities. Other survival applications for fires include fire-hardening wooden tools and weapons, purifying water, and a signal to potential rescuers.
Here are some ways to get a fire going if you’ve lost your lighter or your matches fell out of your waterproof container into the river:
1. 9V battery and steel wool – Touching a bundle of steel wool onto the exposed terminals of the battery will short-circuit the battery and cause the steel wool to glow red hot and burn. Hold this up to your tinder bundle and stay warm for the night. Make sure to securely store the battery and steel wool separately in your bug out bag – you definitely do not want your bug out bag to catch on fire when you are trying to survive. This can be done by putting duct tape over the battery’s terminals or storing them in different slots of a plastic, compartmentalized case among other things.
2. Flint and steel – The variety of models and brands of flint and steel combinations seems to be limitless. Personally, I recommend the Bear Grylls Fire Starter by Gerber. Flint and steel works by rubbing/striking the two pieces together to create a high temperature spark. With enough practice, you will be able to get this spark to land in the middle of your tinder bundle every time.
3. Potassium permanganate and glycerin – These are items that might already be in your first aid kit in your bug out bag. Glycerin is commonly found in lotions and hand sanitizers, or can be bought in its pure form. Potassium permanganate is also identified by its Latin name “Kalii Permanganas” and chemical formula “KMnO4.” Potassium permanganate can be used as a water purifier in low doses or as an anti-fungal/antiseptic topical treatment in higher doses. Click here to learn how to tell the difference. Combining potassium permanganate and glycerin on your tinder bundle will result in a chemical reaction producing heat and eventually fire. Again, be sure to carefully store and separate these items in your bug out bag.
4. Using the sun – Eye glasses, magnifying glass, binoculars, water filled balloons, plastic bottles, or condoms, or even a lens shaped block of ice can all be used to focus the sun’s light intense enough to start a fire. Hold your weapon of choice at an angle such that the intensified light that comes through the other side is as small and bright as possible. Hold this focused light on a specific spot on your tinder bundle until you see it starting to smolder and then catch flame. This method really only works on a clear, sunny day.
Remember, the most important thing about these methods is that you become familiar with them and your ability to use them. When you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere when night time approaches, its NOT the time to see if you can use your alternative fire starting methods properly.
What are some of your fire starting methods?