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GGS
2007-11-27, 19:45
Here's the challenge...

You're surviving long term in the wilderness. All your BIC lighters are empty. Your matches are all gone. Any of your nifty oiled cotton balls, egg carton sawdust candles, etc. have long been used up.

You have a KNIFE, FLINT, and STEEL. And you need to start a fire. There is 2" of wet snow everywhere. Precipitation is a wet wintry mix.

Using text and [hopefully] pictures, can you describe:

WHERE you would find small dry kindling?
WHERE you would find tinder that could ignite with a spark?
SHOW us your firestarting procedure, using only these tools!

SGT Rock
2007-11-27, 20:07
Use my map to find the nearest trail/road crossing and hike out. Then hitch to the nearest motel and watch Survivorman.

Amigi
2007-11-27, 20:08
Topography? Is it wet and wintry in the Sahara or the Artic Circle?

I ask since my knowledge is more of the rain forest/Florida type area. Seems like the same thing would apply.

For my experience, the inner bark of any pine try will suffice as kindling, regardless of how hard or for how long it has rained. Dry wood, enough to make a fire, not enough to survive on, can be found on any tree that has dead branches. Also, fresh sawpalm will burn fairly readily if the starter fire is big enough. Dried poo ( boar or bear ), even if dampened by rain, will burn. Again, as long as the starter fire is hot enough.

oops56
2007-11-27, 21:08
I am not sure why you have wait to get lost in the woods to try and start a fire what's wrong with the back yard till you learn. Best not to get lost in the first place.Its not so bad when you get half way in you start to come out the other side.:bike:

pure_mahem
2007-11-27, 21:08
use knife and a stick as a baton to split some wood to get to the dry core of it make kindling from that and also look under large pine trees as it is usually dry under them for dry items to burn. If unable to find tinder from that method cut the top part off of my cotton socks and fluff it up into a pile hit a spark to it and start building my fire once you get a good kindling fire going it will usually burn the wet stuff as it dries out as it burns. sorry no pics, no cam. hope this helped. I would normally use my trail hawk tomahawk to split the wood enough to get to the center but you did say only knife and flint. Also like oops hinted at practice these skills at home or on weekend campouts. It is better to know how to do this before you need to know how to do it.

Iceman
2007-11-27, 23:13
Bellybutton lint and earwax.

MrSparex
2007-11-27, 23:20
Normally I don't eat at the Waffle House....
.................................................. .......but in this case..........

Iceman
2007-11-27, 23:25
On second thought, I would find standing deadwood of some kind. Gather as many microscopically thin pieces of the thin dead branches, under the dryest area under the trees. I would also locate a downed piece of deadwood which has lost it's bark, but is stilll off the ground. I would break this larger piece into manageable pieces, breaking it between two trees which are close together. I would locate many different sizes of wood. I would gather bark pieces to block wind. Pitchy pieces to help combustion. Break open deadwood to get to dry wood inside.

I would build a fire at a location as close as possible to my woodsource. I would build a "roof" to build my fire under, a quick "lean-too" of branches and bark, anything to work my fire under, maybe under a fallen massive tree or rootball. I would build a quick windshield under this roof. I would bring all of my firestarter wood in close. I would construct a tiny "birdsnest" of my smallest dryest pieces, and would then begin to shave magnesium or use a flint to start my tinder fire. I would control as many variables as I could by creating the best environment for flame. Upright thin pieces, spaced to allow airflow in an upwards direction. I would attempt to eliminate all wind, rain, falling snow, downdraft, everything. I would lay down enough green boughs so that I could comfortably lay eye to eye with my work. I would prepare for and anticipate a long time attempting to make a fire. I would gather everything I need prior to my first attempt. I would survive.

Turk
2007-11-28, 00:03
umm .... ditto on everything Iceman said.
that was a good summary.

but since that pretty much bleeds the topic dry ...... I will take a different spin.

Here are some pretty inventive methods of getting tinder/ kindling and transporting fire from one spot to another.
eg: from an outside fire .. to inside a survival shelter.


*Some of these you would have to be pretty desperate - as in injured and in serious and immediate need of fire to stay alive. Others are rather ingenius and you would probably be able to use several times over. A couple I think might be complete B.S.
I have only personally used a few of them. So I just don't know. But it could be interesting to discuss.

- sacrifice a cigarette. good tinder, and slow burning ember. Bar none - THE safest way to make fire travel.

- take shavings from a hatchet handle with a smaller knife for tiny kindling strips.

- cut strips of leather off your boot tops, or cut the tongue out of the boots, and light. Boot polishes are
highly flammable. (assuming leather hiking boots of course) Won't work if you've Nic waxed them.

- prepare wood shavings, smash open keychain thermometer and set a spark immediately. Lights off a single spark, but produces toxic flame. (works with any mercury thermometer) vaporizes quickly, so speed is necessary.

- scrape a micro fleece garment with a sharp blade to get the lint, form a
lint ball, and spark with flint.

- turn socks inside out and do the same as above.

- heavy-duty nylon thread burns like an old fashioned dynamite fuse.

- cut a small strip of sil-nylon off any of your gear. It will hold a flame well.

- footbed inserts are hard to light, but burn long and slow.

- cut the armpits out of a dirty and well worn micro fibre T-shirt. Your
own body oils, and several ingredients from deodorants and antipirspirants
aid in creating one toxic but effective candle. continues to burn as it melts.

- inner strands from a piece of shock cord also great for transporting small flame over longer distances.




I have only tried a handfull of these myself. I know the shock cord, nylon thread, T-shirt, and micro fleece to be true. Tried all of those after reading about them. I gotta know if that thermometer one works, but I am a bit apprehensive of trying it.

oops56
2007-11-28, 00:39
Cigarettes no very good no more it got safety built in them they go out half way and close to the end.When they first come out i almost took them back i thought i had some bad ones [ yes they are all bad for you ] so driving a car more weight to them quick kill

GGS
2007-11-28, 16:47
On a recent camping trip I realized I had forgotten to resupply my container of PJ cotton balls, my favorite fire starter. I had a b*tch of a time getting a fire going, and that was in a woodburning stove. Many matches, a singed fingertip, and a partially melted bic lighter later I finally had success... and a realization that my bush skills needed some, uh, honing.

I do fine once I get a sustained twig fire going. Getting such a fire going with something like a PJ cotton ball is easy - the cotton ignites immediately and burns with a 4" flame for several minutes, enough to dry damp twigs and ignite them, and from there on things are easy. (Usually)

However getting from SPARK to SUSTAINED TWIG FIRE without artificial augments is a skill that I have not yet mastered. And to do it on a wet day would be even more challenging yet.

Hence the challenge of this thread, so that I - and perhaps others - might learn this step from all you great woodsmen.

Here's what I have tried so far:

TWIGS. I've found it very difficult to light with a match, let alone just a spark. Touch a match to a small pile of twigs and just about the time the match has burned to your fingertips you might have a couple of twigs ignited however as soon as the match goes out the twigs follow. The flame never gets big enough to involve other twigs and grow. I've had _some_ luck with tiny pine twigs but only when weather has been very dry and never with just one match. Igniting damp or with just a spark is out of the question. Twigs IME are a second step kindling, not first step tinder.

LEAVES. [from deciduous trees] I haven't repeated these experiments as an adult however as a boy I've learned that leaves really don't burn very well, they just smolder. If leaves were the ultimate tinder then a few sparks should ignite a fall leaf pile into a bonfire, and I've never seen that happen.

BARK. As I've read here, bark has a kind of natural fire retardant which makes it difficult to catch fire. Not a good tinder. Paper birch bark is the exception, however there are no paper birch nearby for me to experiment with.

PINE NEEDLES. I have a white pine in my yard. Last night I grabbed a fistful of dead white pine needles and tried to start a fire. I had no success with spark but that may have been due to the cheesy flint and steel I had. I WAS able to get a fire going with just two matches which for me is pretty darn good. Will experiment more with this. I also must note that it's been dry the last couple of days so I don't have a true wet day test scenario here.

GRASSES. Haven't given this one a serious try, mainly because I don't have any source of dead [brown, not green] grass in my yard but also because it has been so wet here lately. Where would one find dry grass on a wet day?

So anyway that's my thoughts so far. I'm figuring that long before cotton balls and sulfur matches were available the natives made fire every day using only flint and what materials they could find from their surrounding environment. They lived out entire lives this way without ever having to go t the store and buy more matches, or to refill their "Eternal Flame" [lighter] with "Eternal Lighting Fluid". (Old Gilligan's Island joke) They used resources that were infinitely available in the wilderness. That is my challenge here, to learn how to make fire using only these methods.

Amigi
2007-11-28, 19:06
Who knows where that condom\water video is? I cant find it. ( Sorry for the thread swerve. )

Iceman
2007-11-28, 23:50
GGS, I have been there! I once planned a winter overnight trip, solely for the purpose of making fire with simple tools. Matches. ( I actually wrote about it here on this site somewhere...) Long story short, took me Fing hours to get a fire out of the soggy crappy mush here in the woods around Febraury. This is why I am a big proponent of having a quick-lighting, long-burning lifesaving firestarter in your gear. Firestarting skills are great, but, I feel that you still need the ability to be able to make an easy "one match" fire, a last ditch effort to make a lifesaving fire. If cold and hypothermic, your hands will feel like stone, and you will most probably not be able to make a fire with primitive tools.

Redleg
2007-11-28, 23:59
Try lighting your potatoe chips, doritoes, beef jerky etc.
Junk food is starch soaked in oil, dusted with flaverings and sodium products.
jaf

oops56
2007-11-29, 00:17
Yep corn chips can be used 3 ways eat start a fire or cook with them

http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d52/oops62/stoves%202/th_corn01-1.jpg (http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d52/oops62/stoves%202/corn01-1.jpg)

Iceman
2007-11-29, 00:32
Yep corn chips can be used 3 ways eat start a fire or cook with them...

Actually there is a fourth way....sort of nasty..... :ahhhhh:

sailingsoul
2007-11-29, 17:32
Amigi, found it right off using search feature on forum CP. Top of every page on this forum. Just typed in one word "condom". I never read anyone posting that it worked for them. I'm skeptical, but others believe it. It sure looks to me that the hot spot on the grass is not where the fire starts. Am I the only one who sees this??? SS :captain: http://www.gadling.com/2007/04/24/use-a-condom-to-make-fire/

Hog On Ice
2007-11-30, 09:15
Actually there is a fourth way....sort of nasty..... :ahhhhh:

works better to use the corn chips with a BEAN dip for that approach

dnation
2007-12-02, 20:53
Alcohol based hand sanitizer burns pretty well, and sticks to whatever you put it on.

Seeker
2007-12-05, 21:37
even when your lighters are 'out', they still spark really well, for a long time.

another angle... instead of starting a fire, what if you never let it burn out? don't know how many of you follow archeology, but that fellow they dug out of the Otztal Glacier a few years back was carrying a pretty good little tool kit. one thing they found was a small birchbark container with charcoal in it. apparently, he had made this little container (we all know how to fold a piece of paper into a cup), filled it with leaves and carried a live coal around with him from one place to another.

so if i run out of lighters, i'll start carrying a coal.

JAK
2007-12-06, 15:57
I was surprised also to learn what doesn't work. We are pretty spoiled here in New Bruswick though as far as Squaw fuel goes. Paper Birch Bark, sometimes even the stuff on the ground, as long as its not on punky wood. Spruce sticks, the dead lower branches that snap off of the trees. Those are the big to and are pretty much everywhere, but not entirely everywhere. If in cedar (Eastern White Cedar), just about all part of that will work well, sometimes even when green because of the oils. The wood dries out nicely without rotting once dead. Helps if off the ground of course. Anyhow fuels is not the big issue here so much as fire starting.

Depends on what you mean by flint. Easiest is magnesium with that cerium mischmetal stuff, and some sort of striker. Even I have done this. Less easy is the cerium mischmetal stuff with some sort of striker, so you need to be much more careful in your birdsnest prep. I have not done this but think I could with lots of sparks. The most difficult is the real flint and carbon steel, where the flint is actually the striker, and the sparks are coming from the steel. I think I would find this extremely difficult. I uderstand it usually requires having char cloth in advance, and even then is difficult. I think if I was to have char cloth I could just as likely have the cerium mischmetal stuff, and perhaps some magnesium. Good skill to learn though. I normally carry several small bics stashed in various places, and some candles, but I think I will get one of those magnesium firestarters and work my way backwards from less difficult to more difficult.

oops56
2007-12-06, 17:47
Well Jak flint & steel with char cloth is easy i make my char cloth out of kerosene wicks cut in squares plus i make a tender tube i can get the char cloth to glow on the first spark almost every time if not second for sure

http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d52/oops62/th_flintb.jpg (http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d52/oops62/flintb.jpg)

JAK
2007-12-06, 18:07
Really nice kits oops. I am going to start with the easier way, but I think now I will still enlose it all in a kit like yours including a tin for making the char cloth. Do you know if you can char birch bark, or moss; for in theory when those wicks run out not that I've ever spent that much time in the woods continuously. I like the feeling of independance though, or perhaps in my case more the illusion. I suppose I will just have to try different things here.

Iceman
2007-12-09, 10:22
Found a flint and steel firestarter for under six bucks. Would make a nice stocking stuffer for good hikers?

http://www.bestglide.com/ranger_firelighting_flint.html

oops56
2007-12-09, 10:38
If you look in the tins there is a leather on top of the char cloth so it don't get messed up

GGS
2007-12-10, 02:06
GGS, I have been there! I once planned a winter overnight trip, solely for the purpose of making fire with simple tools. Matches. ( I actually wrote about it here on this site somewhere...) Long story short, took me Fing hours to get a fire out of the soggy crappy mush here in the woods around Febraury. This is why I am a big proponent of having a quick-lighting, long-burning lifesaving firestarter in your gear. Firestarting skills are great, but, I feel that you still need the ability to be able to make an easy "one match" fire, a last ditch effort to make a lifesaving fire. If cold and hypothermic, your hands will feel like stone, and you will most probably not be able to make a fire with primitive tools.

Iceman, I remember that post. Pretty sobering. Dependent on technology we are! I too carry a few firestarters for just that situation.

Something that occured to me... A true bushman surviving for an infinite time in the wilderness would collect and carry dry tinder throughout his travels for use during those times when available tinder is not dry, and use each fire he made to dry out tinder for the next fire. So in effect he too would carry "firestarters".

sailingsoul
2007-12-10, 08:33
I bought in Florida, some of those party poppers. They look like little bottles about two inches high (10cm), made from plastic. They have a string out the top, when pulled makes aloud pop and shoots streamers in the air. I tried to make a fire starter that would be waterproof and start a fire with the pull of a string like these things. Nothing yet but I'm sure there's a way, somehow. A smaller version of the, cut down road flairs.
SS:captain:

Thudley
2007-12-10, 11:54
Glad to see this thread & the responses. GGS set a good challenge with the requirements he stated. I also totally agree that you must practice these skills before you need them to survive. I've been experimenting with my flint / magnesium starter in the woods at my home in the Adirondacks. In wet or snowy weather, finding tinder & kindling is the hardest part. So far, I've been skunked at getting fire going with just natural materials. Each time, I've had to resort to using at least a small peice of dry paper to catch a spark.

I like Iceman's approach best. It will take some time to get everything set up, but I think that is where I went wrong in my experimenting. I became anxious to try a fire start without proper preparation. In emergency condition, this could be deadly. Recall Jack London's "To Build A Fire". Even reading that story as a child made me realize how hard simple tasks can become when conditions overwhelm you.

I've gotten pretty close to that state in years past on some climbing expeditions, but in those cases, there were always other people around to bail me out (and I, them). These days, I'm more concerned with woodland survival in the event I'm downed in a wilderness area with minimum survival gear.

I'll do some more experimenting after the Holidays & post my results.

Thanks to all for the hints & kinks.

GGS
2007-12-10, 16:45
one thing they found was a small birchbark container with charcoal in it. apparently, he had made this little container (we all know how to fold a piece of paper into a cup), filled it with leaves and carried a live coal around with him from one place to another.

Seeker, you may be on to something, but I'm guessing it wasn't a LIVE coal he had, it was charred material used to "catch a spark". I'm reading that when flint and steel spark and that spark lands on a piece of charred material an ember is created. Then you surround that ember with dry tinder and blow on it to fan the ember. Once the tinder ignites you can extinguish the ember on your original char material and keep it for the next fire.

Oops56 has char material called a char cloth for this purpose. (Oops, I saw your post on this but didn't quite understand what you had or how to use it)

Here is a nifty article on this whole process as well as several variants of how to use it, http://www.ragweedforge.com/striking.html

Hollowdweller
2007-12-10, 17:36
Bellybutton lint and earwax.

Winner!:adore: :beer:

pure_mahem
2007-12-11, 00:39
I would just like to point out cotton balls are a natural material and you don't need the pj to catch the spark they do it quite well all by themselves. The pj just makes them burn longer. Most clothing these days are made of cotton most time its hard pressing to find something that isn't cotton. If your having trouble thinking of something most people are always wearing a cotton t shirt, tidy whiteys, or cotton socks. you could easily cut a piece of thes in an emergency and fluff it up to use it as a firestarter. Denim is cotton also! Most of the time you don't even have to cut the fabric just scrape it with your fingers or knife to collect some lint off of it, or reach in the pocket of your jeans as that is a miraculous place for collecting pocket/dryer lint. Also recently just saw a fire saw looks very interesting and pretty easy to build but I haven't tried it yet, still it looks very promising for someone stranded with no other options as you could find a sharp rock to split the wood necessary to build one.

JAK
2007-12-11, 12:17
even when your lighters are 'out', they still spark really well, for a long time.

another angle... instead of starting a fire, what if you never let it burn out? don't know how many of you follow archeology, but that fellow they dug out of the Otztal Glacier a few years back was carrying a pretty good little tool kit. one thing they found was a small birchbark container with charcoal in it. apparently, he had made this little container (we all know how to fold a piece of paper into a cup), filled it with leaves and carried a live coal around with him from one place to another.

so if i run out of lighters, i'll start carrying a coal.Was it still burning? :D

Thudley
2007-12-11, 12:54
[QUOTE=GGS;21823]
However getting from SPARK to SUSTAINED TWIG FIRE without artificial augments is a skill that I have not yet mastered. And to do it on a wet day would be even more challenging yet.[QUOTE]

That's been my problem too. My main problem is finding ignitable tinder that will catch a spark. Probably the best suggestion is the piece of clothing idea, but I'm also going to try shaving down some small drty wood to get to the interior slices.

Kindling is my next problem. I've had your same experience with twigs, pine needles, etc. The best efforts were with twigs. I break off the very small dead twigs from a standing dead tree. However, I've found that in cold, wet weather, I can't tell just how dry the twigs are until I try to light them. I manage to get a twig fire going only to have it extinguish quickly.

Here's a problem I wouldn't have thought of: In the dense woods here, I have to search far & wide to find rocks. I've taken to building fires on a cradle of damp tree branches, or bark. Trying to spark tinder in this kind of shaky setup is difficult. I'd like to get a nice firm platform of rocks to work the start.

Since I beleive fire starting under emergency conditions is the primary winter survival skill, I plan to do a lot more experimenting.

sailingsoul
2007-12-11, 21:04
What would be really cool or fun, is next time a few people from this form get together, they have a fire make event. And post about it. I tried to make fire w/o a lighter or match and realized that if my life depended on it, I'm dead. No one brought this up so I will but when I go camping I put matches in a baggie and put these all over. In the pockets of the pants in my pack, several pockets of my pack, inside rolled socks, 8 or 10 different places. Also several lighters spread around. Haven't been in a spot where I couldn't get a fire up when I wanted. Knowing who to make fire w/o matches or a lighter is a good skill to master, if you ever need it. SS :captain:

pure_mahem
2007-12-12, 00:16
A good way to start practicing is when you go camping light every fire with just a spark. If it takes you a while its not really a big deal and it gives you the practice you need so you can do it with your eyes closed. This will often inspire others to see what you are doing and set them down the pyromaniac road. This can also attract people who know what they are doing and give you some instructional suggestion for improvement on your technique.

JAK
2007-12-12, 00:23
I think am going to switch to a using one of those magnesium firestarters instead of ligher and candle for my Kelly Kettle. It will be slow and first but I should get better, and may even learn to do it without the magnesium. It would certainly teach me to be more particular in my choice of fuel. I only use Birch Bark and Spruce Sticks or Cedar twigs now, but I don't have to be very particular or pay too much attention when I build it. It would force me to develop better skills.

dropkick
2007-12-12, 07:44
If I was teaching someone fire lighting skills the first skill I'd want them to learn was the one match fire.

I'd try to explain more on how to do it here, but it's more of a hands on and experience type of learning curve.
You have to do it yourself and you need to learn to judge both the tinder and the wood you feed into the fire so you don't put it out.

- Now that I think about it I don't actually know how my fire building skills would carry over when used on hardwoods and other deciduous trees as I learned using mainly pine and fir and have no real knowledge on the burning characteristics of most other woods. It could cause me very little problem or I might need to learn an entirely new skill set.

The skills that I do have I mainly learned through years of lighting the stove in the morning, a father who was strict about the use of matches, and who also imposed restrictions on burning of paper in the stove.
He worried about the burning paper rising up the stovepipe and settling on the roof - plus he was a Boyscout Leader, I think some of the restrictions on the way I did chores and the chores themselves may have started as lessons.

While this wasn't out in the weather, the abilities learned there carried over.

P.S. My hatchet is invaluable for lighting a fire in the snow or wet weather both for getting dry tinder and for making a dry surface to start the fire on.

P.P.S. Even though I haven't had a wood stove in any of my different homes for several years I still have a cardboard box filled with chunks of pitch wood that has traveled with me and occasionally gets added to. I recently noticed my Dad still has one too, and he hasn't had a wood stove in his house for over 20 years.
(pitch wood - tinder - wood filled with sap - sap is also known as pitch)

JPW
2007-12-12, 16:24
Pop a road flare ( carried for emergencys) and throw on whatever burns that I dont need, along with whatever wet wood I find.

JPW
2007-12-13, 09:23
Best subject ive read in a long time. The things I learned over the years is always have good dry tinder, enough to start two fires. Then when you start one collect and dry tinder to replace what you used.
Back when I camped and only cooked on a wood fire, I would bury the fire at night, sometimes covering it with aluninum foil first. The next morning there was enough live coals to get a new fire going by brushing away the dirt and blowing on the coals using the dry matchwood you collected the day befor.
Back in the pioneer days they carried coals in a pot when they moved camp;I suppose you could put coals in a cook pot and take them with you if you had a good enough handle on the pot.
If you have a gun with you, pry the bullet of a round, pour the powder onto your tinder and shoot it with the spark fron the empty that still has a unused primer.

oops56
2007-12-13, 09:47
Sure ever one got a pair pilers in there back pocket. It be hard on the teeth to do it also.

pure_mahem
2007-12-13, 11:33
I think I'll just pull the ferrocerrium rod out of the buttstock of my gun an light the fire with that. I drilled a hole under the buttplate of my rifle stock so I could fit one small ferrocerrium rod and half a cotton ball in the hole, nothing rattles and it's there for an emergency. I've gotten a little obsessed with hiding those ferrocerrium rods in things but to me it seems to make sense to attach it to something I will most definately have with me when I am in the Great Outdoors. Also put one in the handle of my hatchet and have one in my survival/firstaid kit in my pack and one in the glove box of my car, just in case of an emergency.

sailingsoul
2007-12-14, 15:35
If you have a gun with you, pry the bullet of a round, pour the powder onto your tinder and shoot it with the spark from the empty that still has a unused primer.
Does that really work? Or is that a Mac Gyver woo woo trick. Like putting pepper and eggs:egg: in the radiator to fix a few bullet holes. Maybe that was how He cooks breakfast with out fire :eating:, I get confused. Anyway has anyone seen that work? The bullet thing. SS :captain:

oops56
2007-12-14, 16:06
I used pepper lots times to stop radiator leaks also once on my hot water heater needs a whole can of it.Not big holes.

JPW
2007-12-14, 17:43
Sailingsoul... Yes it works. You don't need pliers if you have your gun with you. Just put the projectile half way in the muzzle and pry to losen it then finish removing it with your fingers. Don't jam it all the way in or you will plug the barrel.Make a birds nest with your dry tinder and pour the powder in the nest.Leave a few grains of powder in the caseing and carefullu load it with the muzzle pointed up. Carefully lay the gun down with the muzzle about an inch from the powder and pull the triger. Have all your match size wood and pencil size wood ready to add.
As with any fire, having dry tinder and kindeling is the key to success. We should all practice several methods of starting fires. The important thing about any survival situation is to keep your head, and think through everything you do.

pure_mahem
2007-12-14, 18:44
I know it works as I saw Les do it on the Survival Man show but one thing I noticed he went through like half a dozen bullets trying to light his fire that way. I think more or less this method involves a lot of luck. What I noticed is that every time he did it he blew his tinder all over the place every time he pulled the trigger not exactly a logical method if your trying to light a fire. Maybe as a last ditch method I would do it. One thing I would mention is that if you plan on practicing this method to try and get it down to a science and not luck watch your barrel as firing powder this way can quickly fowl it up and you may need to clean it a little more dilegently. Personally I am not going to practice this method like I said before if I have my gun I have a ferrocerrium rod in the butt anyways and personally I think this method is kind of dangerous. JMO

Take-a-knee
2007-12-15, 12:29
Best subject ive read in a long time. The things I learned over the years is always have good dry tinder, enough to start two fires. Then when you start one collect and dry tinder to replace what you used.
Back when I camped and only cooked on a wood fire, I would bury the fire at night, sometimes covering it with aluninum foil first. The next morning there was enough live coals to get a new fire going by brushing away the dirt and blowing on the coals using the dry matchwood you collected the day befor.
Back in the pioneer days they carried coals in a pot when they moved camp;I suppose you could put coals in a cook pot and take them with you if you had a good enough handle on the pot.
If you have a gun with you, pry the bullet of a round, pour the powder onto your tinder and shoot it with the spark fron the empty that still has a unused primer.


Rifle powder will work quite well for this, as it burns much slower than pistol powder. Any sort of spark producing device will set this off easily. With pistol powder I'd keep my hands and face as far away as possible, some are almost as flammable as blackpowder, ditto for shotgun powder.

canerunner
2007-12-15, 20:33
Iceman, I remember that post. Pretty sobering. Dependent on technology we are! I too carry a few firestarters for just that situation.

Something that occured to me... A true bushman surviving for an infinite time in the wilderness would collect and carry dry tinder throughout his travels for use during those times when available tinder is not dry, and use each fire he made to dry out tinder for the next fire. So in effect he too would carry "firestarters".

That is why they could survive when most modern people couldn't. They knew that being prepared for a survival situation (every day for them) meant the difference between life and death.

I always carry a kit that includes flint and steel, along with charcloth, the makings for a birdsnest, and enough tinder to get a fire going. I also carry a small piece of good old Georgia fat lighter. with me. For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, it's a piece of pine from an old stump that is so full of pitch that it will almost burn underwater.

canerunner
2007-12-15, 20:48
If you have a gun with you, pry the bullet of a round, pour the powder onto your tinder and shoot it with the spark fron the empty that still has a unused primer.

This is a really hit-or-miss approach. I have never known anyone that could do this with any sort of repeatability. I also saw that Man vs. Wild (or Survivorman. Can't remember which.) where he tried starting a fire with his gun. You could freeze to death waiting to get a fire going like that.

People used to start fires with a flintlock, but they were essentially using the lock to create the sparks we are talking abut making with flint and steel. Same intent and method, just a different way of applying it.

Mutinousdoug
2007-12-15, 22:11
I have to agree with Caverunner; that a spark from a primer shot through a rifle barrel is not likely to start a fire at the muzzle. Haven't tried it, just sayin'.
A primer in a pistol may work, or it might blow the powder all over the place-best to give it a try at home before relying on the method. Without a leatherman or other pliers, you will have a job pulling the bullet from your pistol cartridge (too short to hang onto). This is not to say you couldn't safely fire a rifle primer by hitting it smartly with a rock after pulling the bullet and emptying the powder out should you need to. :ahhhhh:
Keep your fingers safe.

Iceman
2007-12-16, 00:01
All things being considered, I hope that in the event that I need that survival fire, that I have my wits about me, and try the fire early enough. I understand that ego takes over, and we try to find our way out and toss out all of what we know. Also what scares me, is where I play in the woods, it is usually very wet. When I may need the survival fire, it will surely be a cold and soggy mess, worst case scenario. They don't call it the "Pacific Northwest RainForest" for being dry...

Insert stupidity in place of ego, above

JPW
2007-12-17, 08:33
Good point Iceman. I remember one time long ago geting wet smelt dipping. By the time I got back to the car to change into dry cloths my feet and hands were numb. My hands were so numb I couldnt unlock the door and had to find someone to do it for me. If I had needed to get a fire going to survive, I would have died.

Thudley
2007-12-21, 12:57
OK, we've had 2 days of pretty good rain here, so I figured it was time to go out to test some of my fire starting skills & equipment. I brought a knife, a flint-magnesium bar, a Blastmatch, a Light My Fire Firestarter, some Dry Tinder tabs, petroleum jelly soaked cotton balls, and some fuel tabs (the kind you use with a can stove).

It was a windy day, so I followed Iceman's recommendations and set up a good windproof site using a hollow log, some rocks, and some downed branches. I also collected all the tinder, matchwood, and firewood before starting my fire. In field testing like this, there's a awful temptation to just collect the minimum and see if you can get a small fire going. The rationale runs along the lines of, "If I get a small one going, I could always build it bigger." Wrong! I've had several small fires go out while I looked for bigger wood. Getting everything ready beforehand took me about 40 minutes, but in the end, it was time well spent.

My biggest problem was getting the tinder to stay in a collected mass while trying to strike the spark. The hand motions required for sparking tended to move things around quite a bit. That's why I previously mentioned the need for a sound base on which to build. Any suggestions about this are welcome.

Now to the gear: I figured that the Blastmatch would be my best bet, since you can use it one-handed. That leaves your other hand free to corral the tinder. The problem with this device is that you have to get the flint rod right on top of the tinder pile, then press down vigorously to get the spark. This again tends to spread the tinder pile. The Light My Fire item is a bit small and also takes a steady hand to strike it without scattering the tinder.

In spite of carving standing dead branches to get to the interior dry pulp, I had no success in making wood into tinder. I failed to spark one of the fuel tabs to light, even crushing one to a powder had no effect. I did get the Dry Tinder tab to light, but only after a long effort.

My best effort resulted from using the petrolium jelly cotton balls and the magnesium-flint bar. Actually, I didn't carve off any magnesium...just used the flint rod & my knife. It's big enough to get a good grip and keep it from hitting your tinder pile, and provides a great shower of sparks when scraped with the sharp edge of the blade. Later on, I tried scraping off some magnesium filings just as a test. This takes some effort to get the chips, and to keep them together, especially if there's a breeze.

So, to the bottom line: As a result of my tests, I'm going to equip all our survival kits with a few petrolium jelly cotton balls wrapped in waxed paper, and a magnesium bar striker. Although the bar is heavier than some of the other strikers, I think that its good handling characteristics give it the advantage over lighter types. The cotton balls weigh next to nothing.

This topic has definitely been invaluable to our team as it forced me to go into the field and do some testing. Unless you try these tasks yoourself, in the field in the worst weather, any sense of comfort derived from simply carrying the equipment is false. Again, I recommend reading Jack London's "To Build A Fire". It's a short story that demonstrates the problems of accomplishing this basic survival skill.

pure_mahem
2007-12-21, 19:37
A tip that might help on getting your tinder lit is to take a small piece of your tinder and hold it in front of your striker so when you scrape it along the ferro rod it kind of acts like striking a match and the small piece of tinder usually lights right of and you just flick it into your tinder pile on the ground. This works reall well with cotton balls, jute twine, dryer lint, and char cloth. You still have to make sure the little piece has been fluffed up but it only takes a small piece like the amount of cotton from the tip of a q tip for instance.

Iceman
2007-12-21, 23:51
Thudley, you have just practiced what most do not. Survival. Last winter I kept running out after a ton of rain to test my fire starters, practice making small starter fires using aluminum foil to keep the wind back, and to reflect the heat in. Another trick I used was to take a tiny piece of tinfoil, form it around my fist, making a hollow ball with a hole in it, to start my fire inside. I would place my fist cast into my pile of twigs, and start the fire into this, the flames growing out the top, taking off into the rest of the fire. I have a few sheets of aluminum foil and a few folded pieces of waxed paper (tinder) in my fire kit. Wouldn't enter the woods without it.

oops56
2007-12-22, 00:16
That alum. is a neat trick also take a fork stick tie ends make almost a circle and you can make a small pot for hot water needles tea etc.

dropkick
2007-12-22, 02:56
This is one of the times that a hatchet comes in handy.
You can chop far enough into wet wood to find the dry.

I've started many fires in the snow and wet (with matches, not flint and steel, but some of the experience still carries over).
First I stomp a hollow in the snow making a wind break - if needed and if there is enough snow. -I always stomp any snow first whether I need a wind break or not - you want a compacted base.
Then to keep everything out of the snow I build a platform of branches or split logs (better).
I put my tinder pile on top of this and start my fire there.

-Another trick that works (with matches - don't know how you could do this with flint and steel) in the wet with slightly damp tinder: if you can't get it to stay lit on the ground start your tinder fire in your cupped hands, gently blow on it, and once it gets going good put it on top of another pile of tinder on the ground. Often this will get it going enough to dry the other pile and grow big enough to feed larger pieces of wood.
-Once you actually try this you'll find that you seldom burn yourself and then usually not very badly.

pure_mahem
2007-12-22, 05:21
I've used both the techniques your talking about they work really well. The platform works really well in the winter and when its really wet out it keeps the cold and wet from sucking the fire out of your tinder bundle. The other technique your talking about can be done with flint and steel pretty easily along with any other fire techniques starting with making a hot coal. I believe the official term for it is birdnesting. Great tips Dropkick. Iceman that foil technique sounds like it works pretty well I'll have to try it, do you think it would work better if you make a small vent in the bottom so you could bellow some air into it? I'll experiment with the foil this weekend, Thanks for the idea.

Thudley
2007-12-22, 13:26
Exactly the responses I was hoping for. Thanks gang!

I was thinking about adding some tin foil into the kits, but my intent was to see if I could boil water in a makeshift tin foil bowl, as OOPS suggested.

I now want to test out Ice's suggestions about building the fire directly enclosed in the foil. Sounds like a good idea.

Dropkick's idea is a good one when using matches or a lighter to get things going. However, it seems like I'd need a third hand to do it with the spark method.

I've already gone the way of getting the fire base up off the ground, dry and sheltered. The petrolium jelly cotton appears to have solved my problem of keeping the tinder in one place. I'll keep trying to get wood tinder going in future experiments.

My drive for this originated with some research I was doing on suvival for downed airmen. The survivor reports all had this common thread...dificulty in getting a fire started, even for "trained" individuals. It seems that we all thought we "got it" during the classroom SERE training, but never bothered to actually try it out. I'm hoping to provide some useful feedback to make the training a bit better. At the very least, it will benefit our group.

Again, many thanks for all the invaluable input. :beer:

pure_mahem
2007-12-22, 14:38
I know from talking with a couple of retired airmen that they use to have to practice this stuff as well as learn it. They would pair you up with a budy and drop you out in the middle of nowhere with just survival kit from your flight suit and you had five days to get back to base. Seems they shouldn't of cut that part out as it's an invaluable learning experience to survive on your own and have basic woodcraft skills.

Iceman
2007-12-22, 23:59
If any of our little experiments help someone survive, I am one happy boy! I am sure I speak for everyone here on this point!

tom blum
2008-01-02, 16:05
this thread reminded me of something.

Last Laborday, in Hanover Maine at the festival, they had a pioneer section off to one side. One guy there was a flint napper, showing his stuff.

It turns out there is no flint in america, it all comes from
Europe. America has Chert, similar but different.

He flaked off a few hand knives and cut some leather strips using them. They cut like a razor.

Then he started some fires. He used char cloth inside a handful of dried grass.. He said in competitions, you struck one spark and began to blow on the bundle. If it took you two strikes to get a good spark, you were out of the running.

Still, it is apparently hard to start a flint and steel fire without char cloth.

I know 50+ years ago, I unsuccessfully devote myself to starting a flint and steel fire with my BSA kit. Spark yes. Fire no!!

I agree with JAK that the magnesium fire starters can get the job done.

Miles of Smiles
Tom

Directions for char cloth are available by google search.

yuppie_redneck
2008-01-18, 20:45
Iceman, I remember that post. Pretty sobering. Dependent on technology we are! I too carry a few firestarters for just that situation.

Something that occured to me... A true bushman surviving for an infinite time in the wilderness would collect and carry dry tinder throughout his travels for use during those times when available tinder is not dry, and use each fire he made to dry out tinder for the next fire. So in effect he too would carry "firestarters".

Let's say the true bushman is the sole survivor - ejected from a plane crash into a fast flowing stream at sub zero temps (plans gang aft agley).

He broke his leg so he can't get to the wreck.

He needs all of his gear in case he isn't rescued for several days, and is confident he can start a fire without sacrificing what he already has.

His survival and rescue depend upon his getting a fire started with what is nearby.

What does he use?

Hair burns very well and catches a spark.
Pine sap does as well.
Inner wood from a deadfall (stab the dead tree to get to the center - faster results and a bowl for your ember.
Dry Lichen on dead tree branches is VERY good - no flame but sustained embers are a cinch.
Birch bark if in non coniferous trees.

Best place to build that fire - under the sheltered boughs of a cedar. Once he gets the fire going he will find enough deadfall there to keep the fire going.(Warmth first - signal later.)

I've actually succeeded in using a bow drill to start a fire in such a setting. It took more energy than someone with a broken leg in the frozen wilderness is likely to have. Most sites you visit recommend making the drill from the same wood as the plank and bow. I do not. Use a green bough for the bow, a hardwood for the drill, and a resinous deadfall (Pines that are blown down often have good dried sap inside.) for the plank. You won't need the plank again after you get the fire going - so build the fire on it. (Guess where that fatwood comes from?>)

OH - and for you survivalists that carry first aid kits - haven't seen this one posted here:

magnezium or zinc ground up and put into the dry powder from an aluminum oxide emergency ice pack = big boom Be careful, but in an emergency you could start a fire fast (Or put yourself out of your misery.) I recommend very tiny quantities of each if you are foolish enough to try it yourself. (I couldn't resist, but I was a Chem major long, long ago - and did my research first.)

NO, I won't tell you how to do it other than that general hint above.

The battery in your watch is caustic and a good accelerant.

yuppie_redneck
2008-01-18, 22:22
Iceman, I remember that post. Pretty sobering. Dependent on technology we are! I too carry a few firestarters for just that situation.

Something that occured to me... A true bushman surviving for an infinite time in the wilderness would collect and carry dry tinder throughout his travels for use during those times when available tinder is not dry, and use each fire he made to dry out tinder for the next fire. So in effect he too would carry "firestarters".

Let's say the true bushman is the sole survivor - ejected from a plane crash into a fast flowing stream at sub zero temps (plans gang aft agley).

He broke his leg so he can't get to the wreck.

He needs all of his gear in case he isn't rescued for several days, and is confident he can start a fire without sacrificing what he already has.

His survival and rescue depend upon his getting a fire started with what is nearby.

What does he use?

Hair burns very well and catches a spark.
Pine sap does as well.
Inner wood from a deadfall (stab the dead tree to get to the center - faster results and a bowl for your ember.
Dry Lichen on dead tree branches is VERY good - no flame but sustained embers are a cinch.
Birch bark if in non coniferous trees.

Best place to build that fire - under the sheltered boughs of a cedar. Once he gets the fire going he will find enough deadfall there to keep the fire going.(Warmth first - signal later.)

I've actually succeeded in using a bow drill to start a fire in such a setting. It took more energy than someone with a broken leg in the frozen wilderness is likely to have. Most sites you visit recommend making the drill from the same wood as the plank and bow. I do not. Use a green bough for the bow, a hardwood for the drill, and a resinous deadfall (Pines that are blown down often have good dried sap inside.) for the plank. You won't need the plank again after you get the fire going - so build the fire on it. (Guess where that fatwood comes from?>)

OH - and for you survivalists that carry first aid kits - haven't seen this one posted here:

magnezium or zinc ground up and put into the dry powder from an aluminum oxide emergency ice pack = big boom Be careful, but in an emergency you could start a fire fast (Or put yourself out of your misery.) I recommend very tiny quantities of each if you are foolish enough to try it yourself. (I couldn't resist, but I was a Chem major long, long ago - and did my research first.)

NO, I won't tell you how to do it other than that general hint above.

The battery in your watch is caustic and a good accelerant.

pure_mahem
2008-01-19, 03:20
Can I just pull the blast match out of my pocket?