Fire Building Techniques and Fueling the Fire

Last Updated on March 10, 2021 by Bruce

Producing A Spark

To ignite some tinder for starting a fire, we need to create a spark!

Flint and steel

Strike a flint or other hard, sharp-edged rock edge with a piece of carbon steel or granite.

Fire Piston

These are made from a small hand held cylinder or tube with one sealed end, and a solid plunger that fits inside it with a near airtight fit. The plunger is pushed in building up the pressure and heat at the inside end of the tube, igniting the tinder that has been placed there. The plunger is pulled out, and the embers tipped gently onto more tinder and then added to your kindling.
In addition, cotton char-cloth, familiar to flint and steel fire-makers works very well in the fire piston and can be made at home.

Fire plough

The fire plough consists of a rod and base board and creates heat by friction…
The rod is made from stone, bone or hardwood, and is held in both hands and pushed energetically backwards and forwards along a groove cut into the base board.
Base board
Is made from dry seasoned softwood, which creates dust is created where the rod and baseboard meet, these ignite from the heat caused by the friction the friction.

Bow and Drill

This ancient tool consists of a base-board, spindle, a bow, and sometimes a hand held bearing block, it creates heat through friction.
This is a straight shaft that can be made from both dry seasoned softwood and hardwood, One end of the spindle fits lightly into a bearing block by way of a carved socket, allowing movement. The other end of the spindle is carved into a blunt point and sits in a cone shaped depression carved a little in from the edge of the base, allowing movement by keeping space between the sides.
Bearing Block
The bearing block that nestles into the palm can be made of the material that is tough, but that can be carve and smoothed. It’s purpose is to bear your weight as you apply pressure to the spindle.
The friction is caused by twisting the spindle with the use of a bow. The bow is made form a sturdy greenwood branch bent into a firm bow by attaching taught cordage to either end. The cordage is wrapped around the spindle once so that it sits on the outside of the bow. This is held in the other hand, and energetically pulled backwards and forwards allowing the cord to spin the spindle.

Hand drill

This comprises a baseboard, and a spindle/drill.
This is made from dry seasoned softwood, as well as tough stalks from some plants, avoid resinous woods [spindles]. It is energetically rolled backwards and forwards with the palms of your hands in a downward motion. One end of the spindle is carved into a blunt point and sits in a cone shaped depression carved into the baseboard.
Thumb loops
Cordage thumb loops can be bound to the top of the drill shaft to help the spinning process. These add some extra downward pressure to increase friction.
Metal match/ Magnesium stick:
Drawing a knife along the length of the metal match or magnesium stick towards your tinder will create sparks to ignite it.

Convex Lens

Light passing through a curved lens is magnified and concentrated.
Optical lens
By directing sunlight through magnifying glasses or lenses from an optical kit, i.e. binoculars and cameras, onto awaiting tinder, the concentrated light/ heat causes it to ignite.
Another convex lens can be created by filling a transparent plastic bag with water and tying it up. Light is directed through it and magnified.
A convex or spherical lens can be carved from ice. The ice needs to be clear and polished. Light is directed through it and magnified.

Matches and Lighter

There are waterproof matches and various grades of lighters right up to storm proof.

Solar reflector

Made from reflective material , a concave disc focuses and concentrates sunlight to a focal point at the end of a spire that juts out from the centre of the dish where tinder can be attached.

Be prepared!

Petroleum Jelly Starter

Make your own tinder ‘Petroleum Jelly Fire Starters’. Roll cotton wool into balls about the size of your thumbnail and coat them with petrolium jelly, pack tightly into a container to keep in your survival kit or grab-bag. These little fire starter aids will burn very hot for many minutes, causing even wet kindling to become dry enough to catch on fire.

Char Cloth

Make your own char cloth. Put some cotton cloth (Synthetic materials do not work). In a small tin or an airtight roll of tin foil and make a little hole in the lid of the tin. Heat up the tin over a flame. The cloth will eventually reach a hot enough temperature and combust (you will see smoke escaping from the holes). Because the the fire is starved of oxygen, the carbon in the cotton does not burn and remains behind as a fragile and excellent tinder source.