Fire Making Techniques for Survival

Posted by Les on March-28-2023

One of the first and oldest technologies that we can think of that some anthropologists date back to almost 1.5 million years ago is still one of the most crucial components of life today, and that is fire. It feels like we take it for granted sometimes as all it takes to crank up the heat is a turn of a knob or by changing dials on a phone app. Fire is important to our everyday life to provide us heat to stay warm, provide light to continue a daily activity late into the night, turn raw food into delicious meals in cooking and aids and protects against wild predators just to name a few.
For fire to ignite it needs three things: fuel, heat and oxygen. Fuel is any type of material that will ignite and combust such as paper, tinder or kindling. Heat is the source that is used to ignite a fire such as a lighter, ferro rod or sticks. Finally, oxygen is to intensify the combustion process. We will outline some of the Heat sources available that are used throughout the world by survivalists, preppers, hikers, campers, scouts and bushcrafters. These are also essentials that should be in everyone’s survival kit or bug out bag.
Let’s begin with the oldest form of fire making and by far the most energy consuming. Friction-based fire making is still used today even though there are many other much easier options available. Friction fire making involves two boards constantly rubbed against each other, which eventually creates fire. As I said however it is the hardest way to create a fire. You need to make sure the wood is dry, also the best fireboard and spindle sets are willow, cedar, cottonwood, juniper, cypress and walnut.
Bow Drill will give you the best results compared to a hand drill. You will need a flexible piece of wood and a string that can be a rope, shoelace, finishing line, anything that is strong and will not tare. Make a bow by bending the flexible piece of wood and tie the sting both ends securely. Take the flat board and make a small depression in the center of the board with a knife or stone so that the ember can collect in the center. Hold the bow in one hand and with other rotate the spindle back and forth in a sawing motion. Continue until ember forms on the fireboard. Once you have a glowing ember, transfer it on a tinder and blow lightly to ignite the tinder.

Next fire making technique would be using a Ferrocerium Rod or Ferro Rod. It is a very popular tool for starting fires in the wilderness or in survival situations. It is also our most go to technique and tool that we have in all our survival kits. They are made from a metal alloy that creates sparks in the presence of oxygen once scraped against a hard object such as knife or striker. Prepare your tinder: collect some dry, fluffy material that will easily catch fire such as dry leaves or bark shavings. Make sure your tinder is finely shredded and fluffy, as this will help catch sparks more easily. Hold the ferro rod in one hand, position the rod away from your body and the striker in the other hand. Hold firmly and scrape against the ferro rod, this will produce a shower of sparks that will end on your tinder. Persist until enough sparks are produced to create a fire over the tinder. Carefully then add twigs, branches to the flame to build your fire.

Using a Magnifying Glass to start a fire is also a primitive yet very effective method. You will need a lens in order to focus sunlight on a specific spot. It could be a magnifying glass, eyeglasses, or binocular lenses. One tip that will get you even further is to add some water to the lens, it intensifies the beam. You want to gather some tinder and place it in a spot where you will be starting the fire. Angle the lens toward the sun to focus the beam into as small an area as possible.

One that perhaps not too many people think they can bring with them to the wilderness or pack in a bug out bag; it is the method of using Batteries and Steel Wool. It does need special attention and handling as battery could be dangerous if not handled properly. You want to have a handful of steel wool and best to have it stretched out about 6 inches. Hold the steel wool against the battery terminal; we recommend a 9V battery as it works best. By touching the steel wool to the battery terminals, the steel wool will heat up and ignite, creating a spark. Then carefully add twigs, branches to the flame to build your fire.

By now you’re probably wondering why the most common and convenient way isn’t on the list yet. Well, here it is: Matches and Lighters are indeed the most common and convenient way, but they do have its drawbacks as any of the methods do. Eventually you will run out of gas in the lighter and if not kept dry the matches could get wet. That’s why we recommend building your survival kit or bug out bag in a waterproof dry bag. This will guarantee your belongings to stay dry in any type of outdoor situation. Nevertheless, it is recommended to always have it in your possessions.

In conclusion, starting a fire can be challenging, but with the right tools and techniques, it's possible to start a fire in any weather condition. Whether you're camping or in an emergency, these methods can help you start a fire and stay warm. Always remember to practice fire safety and use caution when starting a fire.