What is your preferred method of fire lighting.

Discussion in 'Bushcraft' started by sticks65, Jan 19, 2010.

  1. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    Interesting look at the fire pistons, thanks Brokor. I always used a lighter or strike-anywhere matches, followed by a flint and steel when I felt like it. I've been saving dryer lint for the last couple of years and must have a few pounds by now. That stuff is excellent tinder and lights up in a hurry.

    Just how does one make char-cloth?

    Those are some nice looking knives, sticks65.
  2. sticks65

    sticks65 Monkey++

    Cut up some old deniums into squares get yourself an air tight tin and make a small hole in the top of the tin,put denium into the tin and put the tin on the hot coals of your fire until smoke and then a flame comes out of the hole,then block up the hole with a match so the air is cut and let cool,you should be left with char cloth,if not repeat the process.

    The char cloth should look like the black cloth at the bottom right of the picture,if you hold a small piece of the cloth on top of your flint as you strike the flint with your steel the cloth will take a spark real easy.

    You can also get your fire going in the morning by striking sparks on to the char coaled wood,try to aim the sparks at the white dusty looking part of the wood and then blow on it until it fires up.

    Thanks on the knives.
  3. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    No prob. ;) The reason I like it so much, is that if you were to rely upon the all-wooden type of piston, it risks being ruined due to continuous dampness and overuse. The brass pistons do not have these problems.
    Place the cloth in a tin (small vent hole) on top of coals, not direct fire. Be careful not to over scorch it. Some people do it a little different. This method works well enough. I think you want to only use 100% cotton, but that's just common sense.

    And Sticks, you seem to have a good thing going there with your knives ;) If you do decide to hand-make your piston from a block of wood -please post the process so we can all watch in amazement. ;) I wish you the very best.
  4. sticks65

    sticks65 Monkey++

    Ill have to look into this type of fire piston as it sounds good.

    Yes there are a few different methods of making char cloth,i seen one guy just set the cloth on fire and stamp it out,it worked OK.

    I will be giving making a wood fire piston a try when i get the time and work out how im going to do it,i think ill need to watch that tribal guy some more but i will post my efforts either way,success or fail.
  5. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    It figures, I just went to a family bonfire last weekend- it would have been a perfect time to make some charcloth. I have a bunch of tins a quite a few pairs of old jeans.
  6. sticks65

    sticks65 Monkey++

    You can use a camping stove,ive made char cloth on a propane stove before.[winkthumb]
  7. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I like Zippos as my primary and carry a spare card of flints in my wallet and a few more cards in my BOB, a couple Tobasco sauce bottles from MREs filled with fluid in my pockets (one bottle is just right to refill) to refill and also to start stuborn fires then a half dozen or so in the BOB. Have also tested them and they work with gasoline or alcohol and even ok with cheap perfumes and after shaves.

    I have made sure I am able to use a hand drill or bow drill in case I dont have anything else and keep a magnesium striker on hand most of the time but kind of changed my prospective on a lot of the primitive meathods. I was talking to a guy who has writen excelent books on primitive survival and teaches SEER school instructors survival classes on contract for the DOD so they can teach the survival skills to our special forces. He had basicly made the point that while the ability to build a friction fire (bow drill or hand drill) for survival situations is escential, if he was going to carry anything with him for starting fires it would be a disposable lighter since it keeps for ever, lights hundreds and hundreds of fires more reliably and easier than flint and steel and takes less space and weight than a flint and steel.

    It made a lot of sense and stuck with me that basicly friction fire skills are good but keeping lighters handy makes the most sense for most situations.
  8. Capt. Tyree

    Capt. Tyree Hawkeye

    Can't add much more to the butane lighter & Magnesium bar and steel methods for primary and backup starters, but I can suggest using laundry lint with candle wax (sealed in a ziploc baggie or two) as part of the tinder / kindling source material.
  9. sticks65

    sticks65 Monkey++

    Zippo,flint cards,tabasco bottle>

    would it not be easier to just carry a ferro rod.12000 strikes.

    It seems to me that most here relay on Bic lighters which won't last that long if you have to bug out for a prolonged period.

    If its windy you will have to keep trying then the lighter gets hot and burns your fingers where as a little birch bark and a couple of strikes of a ferro rod and you have fire,i know because i have done extensive tests of different methods of fire lighting and found the ferro rod to be the best method by far.

    Just my .02
  10. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member


    I say it with Sabot, dude. When the [shtf]I break out the backpack flame thrower. Know what else? I have a 1992 Roast King BBQ grill electric igniter for the REALLY BIG jobs! BOOOYAH! ;)

    Gonna go now, don't mind me.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2014
  11. sticks65

    sticks65 Monkey++

    Yer very mature.
    Brokor likes this.
  12. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    Fire! WE have fire!
    I have used cotton balls with vaseline, and dryer lint...and have a lot saved in doubled zip lock baggies.....
    I was curious about the char cloth....
    Seems it would have to be well protected to keep it from crumbling and turning to dust...?
    I experimentted with a 50/50 mixture of patassium nitrate and confectioner's sugar, and found that I can get a heckuva HOT fire going in short order...With spark or flame.
    Drawback: moisture is a killer!
    I have yet to try to moisten and mold the 2 together into a cone shape...which I figure would work as well (if kept dry).
    Wet wood and such, I use potassium permanganate and glycerin.
    In as little as 10 seconds, the reaction is dramatic and very very hottttt!
    With the potassium acting as the oxidizer, moisture is no longer a problem.....
    Still, I can see the need for something that uses less chemical resources, and more natural, like spark and tinder.
  13. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    And people say that I am dangerous? Yeah. [rofllmao] "Potassium nitrate and..." is just not part of daily language. :D I gotta give you props, man. I salute YOU!
    Have you tried coating it (the cones) lightly with a clear coat aerosol? Might work.
  14. Sherman

    Sherman Dog Eat Dog

    I have a huge bag filled w/ disposable lighters, about 10 zippos, lifeboat matches, magnesium bar/striker. I dont want to rub sticks together when I can improvise an AA batt and a staple etc.
  15. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    First off, I have a couple rules. I don't wait until a fire is "needed" to start collecting the necessary materials. By that, I mean that I collect tinder and kindling as they are available. By this method, I have never failed to get a fire started. If it is wet, you have a good chance to dry it. If it turns out you don't need a fire... oh well, you spent a day walking around with tinder stuffed, drying into your pocket.

    I have a primary and back up.

    My primary is a LMF ferro rod. Not all ferro rods are created equal. There are some that are just as good as LMF and there are some that don't come close. The alloy has to be correct to get maximum heat and spark that will ignite the coarsest of tinders (see below.... using dry grass). I started using the Army model figuring size is probably good. Recently, I only had access to a Scout model while on R&R and decided that it was just as good (just fewer strikes)(it had no problem lighting fresh shavings from a stave- another good method of finding dry wood). As for other brands, it's probably better to test them before you buy. Be careful on Ebay.

    My back up method is the bow and drill. I carry several long enough pieces of 550 cord that can be used for the bow (the hardest part). I carry one length through my LMF ferro rod (better to save the better easier method for longeterm if you can). I also have experience making cordage the old fashioned way with yucca or other plant fibers. Pine root can be split and used without preparation in an emergency. As for fireboard and spindle, just make sure they are the same wood, are soft enought to dent with your thumbnail, and you will probably be good (get good instruction from someone in your region to find out what woods work best- I could spend all day on this subject). Below are pics from two different workshops that I and my wife went to in two different regions (important). Expect to pay between $50-$100 for a weekend workshop that covers the bow and drill as well us other good to know primitive skills.


    ETA: Don't really like the blast match or other ferro derivatives that have multiple parts. There is more than can break. I understand that they can be used one handed. I think the potential to break is a big minus.
  16. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Is practicing fire starting on a hardwood floor the smartest idea?;)
  17. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    That's all great, but if anybody around here pays hundreds of dollars for a bow drill course, remind me to smack them upside the skull. There are tons of videos and reads on the subject -and all it takes is a little practice to get it right.

    The Yuppies of the world deserve to fork over their money for survival training -but the Monkeys around here set the pace. Got it? Goooood. :)
  18. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    LOL Not my wood floor. That particular class was in TN. They had a an old farmhouse where the workshops were held. I don't think I would do that on my floors.

    I never stated "hundreds" but ok;). I didn't find all the "free instruction" on the internet intuitive. I tried before and decided that I needed hands on instruction. I went to one workshop and learned/retained more than I could get on the "internet". That wokshop was charging..... $40 for two. I paid.... $0 as a token of thanks for serving. The second workshop I went to was really for flintknapping. I was home on R&R. I wanted a knap in. Unfortuantely, there was no knap ins during my 14 Uncle Sam alotted days. My wife did some research and made some calls and came up with a little primitive school nearby (in FL) this time. It just so happened that firemaking was on the ciriculum anyways. Even knowing what I already knew... FL being a different region had it's own challenges with the bow and drill. Total for that course.... $100 for 4 people.

    I guess what I am getting at is that on tons of forums, there are people that drop $2500 for a rifle to "protect" them in a survival situation. I think $0- $25 to be sure you can stay warm (without any tools other than knife- and that can be made with knapping) is a bargain. Plus, it was a lot of fun networking with other like minded people and spending time with family.

    And I don't like being called a "Yuppie":rolleyes:. Most would probably describe me, accurately, as a redneck.

    Anyways... a lot of people think that you can just read about primitive skills and that knowledge will carry you. Not so. Without practice, you will never have a warming fire using friction. I encourage all to give it a try. It will seem impossible at first. If you can't get it going, get some instruction. Hell, if any of you are from around TN or AZ, I will be back in Mayish. I would be glad to show you what I know... free

  19. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    You are not a Yuppie, HS, I never directed my attention to you directly.

    And I agree, experience is crucial. Just don't make the mistake of thinking that there are a bunch of armchair survivalists around the Monkey, because there aren't any as far as I know. That's why we all stay here instead of migrating to other forums...we each share knowledge and experience and opinions. :)

    I said that "Yuppies" are the type to pay a bunch of money to try and do things...most people I know, including myself, would rather go out and just get it done on our own. Take the beef jerky dehydrator that Melbo linked in another thread for example. Do we need to take a hands on class to learn how to make the jerky dehydrator? Heck no. We experiment and do it ourselves! That's the way to get the job done!
    Motomom34 likes this.
  20. Sherman

    Sherman Dog Eat Dog

    Hispeed, I definitely appreciate your sharing knowledge. The pictures are great too... I was wondering if I needed hardwood floors for this technique myself, thanks for clearing that up.;)

    As far as trying it myself goes..ehhh I watched "Quest for fire" last night, I got this whole fire thing covered.
    as a side note when I was a woodsman we used lots of gasoline to start our fires. It works great!
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