In bushcraft, there is a tendency to over-romanticize fire. There is this idea that fire should only come from expertly foraged and carved implements. For some occasions that is fine, but a bow drill should not be your number one method for starting a fire. This article will be about getting a dependable fire fast and easy. These fire-starting methods are all about reacting to a survival scenario. We’ll cover everything from flint and steel to a magnifying glass to give you confidence in your pack.
There are many ways to start a fire and we believe you should know them all. After all, we are talking about the very process that brought our species to reign over all the others.
Flint and Steel
Easily one of the best methods of starting a fire and one of the oldest, flint and steel is a necessity for any survivalist. Now, it’s not the mechanism that makes this such an incredible method but it’s the sum of its parts. Just by understanding the three parts that make a flint and steel work, you will understand how they can be applied elsewhere in fire craft.
The steel striker that is designed for striking a piece of flint that is on top of a piece of char cloth. This striker is the safest method of striking flint and while you see some people do it with a knife, there is the risk of injury. A hand injury in a survival situation is not a risk worth taking.
Flint or Chert
Flint is a naturally occurring rock that can be found in nature easily. We recommend buying a flint and steel kit so you can familiarize yourself with it. It will be much easier to find if you have played with it before.
The steel striking your flint will make the spark.
While making sparks is all good and well, you need something to catch those sparks. Char Cloth is one of the best ways to hold a spark. You will be blown away at how far this little bit of cloth can go without that glowing ember going out.
Char cloth can be made by taking a piece of clothing, placing it in an Altoids tin and throwing that tin in the fire for about 10 minutes. When it's finished you will have a black piece of cloth that can be stored in a tin till you need it. It will hold that spark from your flint and steel and you will be able to transfer that to a tinder bundle.
Another reliable fire starter, like flint and steel, is a lighter. Listen, it's 2018 and while there are many things to learn about making fire, we think it's important that we rely heavily on the most effective fire starter on the market. Lighters are cheap and easy to carry. They will give you incredible fire-starting confidence for several survival situations.
Even if they get wet they can be dried very quickly and used again. In a serious disaster or survival situation, you need to have a lighter on you. It could be that your life depends on it.
Never do you feel more like a wizard than when you use a magnifying glass to start a fire. Even after you have done it plenty of times you will still feel like it shouldn’t work. To harness the power of the sun and use it to create an ember, is truly magic. Now, you can mock this method all you want, but we will tell you that it can be incredibly effective. The only drawback is that you have to be starting a fire during the day, preferably midday, to get the most out of the sun.
A nice powerful magnifying glass can be kept in a small felt bag that protects it from scratching. While it's not necessary, we have found that a little black powder can go a long way with the magnifying glass.
Ferro rods are made of synthetic material. That is fine. There is nothing to blush about here. These tools are incredibly versatile and durable. The rods can reach temperatures up to 3,000 degrees Celsius (5,430 °F); they are powerful little tools.
Often times Ferro rods are called flint and steel which is incorrect, and you should be aware of the difference. A Ferro rod that is about a ½ inch thick struck with the backside of your knife will reign hell down on your tinder bundle.
Maybe the best part about the Ferro rod, if you know what you’re doing, is that it would take a lifetime of fires to wear out a few good thick rods.
Survival or Storm Matches
Paper matches and even wooden matches can be saturated with water and become pretty useless. If you are left to use matches in a wind and rain storm you will find that it takes a miracle to get a fire going in those conditions. Instead, you should look to storm matches that are coated and waterproof. These should certainly have a spot in your bag.
To take it one step further, you can even store these matches in a screw-top container. They will light up fast and bright. They will also burn longer than normal matches.
Some of these fire-starting methods may not be the most impressive in terms of bushcraft. But, we don’t want to rub sticks together when we are in trouble. We would rather have a reliable method of making fire in a hurry. Flint and steel and Ferro Rods are especially reliable, along with the other provided recommendations.
Remember, hypothermia can kill, even on a cool summer night depending on where you are. These methods will give you fire fast.