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They say you can’t make a fire without a spark, but any true survivalist knows that when the SHTF you have to forget about folklore sayings and push the boundaries to do everything in your power to survive. And you also know that in critical situations, human beings are capable of extreme adaptability.
Though the title may seem counter-intuitive, science backs you up when you’re in the wild and have no lighter or match about you. I’m not going to go into the importance of fire in our lives – all the more in the wild – 1.9 million years of using fire speak for themselves, so here are a few clever methods to light a fire without a spark, which is very possible – if you know how.
You probably saw this in cartoons as a method for killing ants, but that doesn’t mean it’s a myth. The magnifying glass doesn’t only amplify sight, but heat as well, when on clear sky. It’s as easy as focusing the sunlight through the lens upon the object you want ignited, such as a piece of paper or straws. You don’t have to carry a magnifying glass in your bug-out bag specifically for this situation, a pair of glasses will work just as well, or, if you have binoculars, you can use one of the lenses. To enhance the effect you can add water on the lens.
1.1 Turning Condoms and Balloons into Magnifying Glasses
If you don’t have any type of lens with you, a balloon or a condom can help you. Simply fill them with water and put them over the material you want to ignite. The trick is to have them inflated as round as possible, and not too big, otherwise refraction will distort the focal point.
1.2 Start a Fire with Ice
A piece of ice can also act as a magnifying glass, but you need the ice piece to be in certain conditions.Think of an ice cube as the ideal magnifying glass. The good part is that you can shape the ice however you want, and what you want is to model it into the shape of a lens. If it’s not transparent, melt it and model it in your hands until it becomes so.
Kinetic energy translates into heat, and the most primal way to obtain heat from kinetic energy is to create friction between two objects. The easiest way is to use wood, as it has adherent surface, making it easy to have friction from it, and it also ignites easily. Things you need:
- Stick – about two inches thick and 2-3 feet long; we will call this the spindle;
- A notch – worst case scenario you can have one made in the ground, but it’s preferable to have it made into wood as well, or to find a hew log;
There are several methods to obtain fire with friction and the above materials.
2.1 Using a hand drill
The hand drill method is probably known to any boy scout, but it does require patience and a certain amount of force to be successful. It’s among the most primitive ways to make a fire and it requires you to roll the spindle back and forth with your palms. If you spin fast and for enough time, the heat created by the friction between the bottom of the spindle and the straws will eventually light them up. You will first be noticing the smell of burnt wood, then you will see smoke coming out of the straws: this means you are on the right track. Do not stop, or you will have to start over.
2.2 Using a belt drill
Everything is identical to the method above, except instead of spinning the spindle with your palms, you simply use a belt: grab the belt with your hands from the ends, and put the spindle against the middle of the belt, with the spindle on the interior (towards you), like reins on a horse. This way you can pull each end of the belt alternately, with better grip and more force, but you need another person to pres upon the spindle and keep in place. Though the belt is the only extra detail, it can make all the difference in the world, especially for someone who doesn’t have that much force.
2.3 Using a bow drill
Similar to the belt method, this also uses a third object in order to create friction, and this method is the easiest. Even a child could make a fire using a bow drill, and bows are also a child’s play to make: just use any flexible stick and tie a string at each end of it. The bow string can be either rope, shoelace, or even a strip of cloth. Maintaining the speed and force is mostly assured by the bow itself. This method also uses a socket of sorts, to maintain pressure from above upon the spindle (in place of the second person). You only need one hand for the bow, so with the second one you maintain the pressure. Any hollow piece of wood can act as a socket, but anything can work, such as an empty baseball or a baseball glove (baseball bat can make a great spindle too, in case you carry one in your bug-out luggage for self-defense), and virtually any hollow item made of plastic or rubber. Wood sap or oil can be used as a great lubricant for the socket.
Turning Soda Cans into Concave Mirrors
You can start a fire with a concave mirror by reflecting off the sun rays into the area you want to burn. A very effective concave mirror can be made using the bottom of a soda or beer can, which is always concave. Simply apply toothpaste or chocolate all over the bottom (just take a chocolate bar and simply smear it all over). Let it dry, and you will essentially have a mirror, which can be used to redirect the sun’s rays into your notch.
Potassium Permanganate and Glycerin
Potassium Permanganate can be found at any hardware store, as it’s used for many things, from antiseptic to fungus killer. Not many know, however, that in reaction with glycerin, it simply ignites. All you have to do is wrap some permanganate into a napkin or cloth, add a few glycerin drops over it, wrap it all up quickly, and simply wait. In about 30 seconds it will start fumigating, and eventually it will ignite. The chemical reaction requires heat to start, and it will only work at normal room temperature.
Before being forced to do this in the wild, be sure to try this at home first, but within the safety limits. If you know more methods of lighting up a fire without sparks, please let us know in the section below. Your input will be greatly appreciated!
By Alec Deacon
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