Starting survival fires: Using Fire Starting Tools

Best Prepper Fire Making Gear

Aside from heat, and the ability to cook food, boil water, etc., being able to start a fire is vital to your morale. In fact, I would place fire as the second most important factor of survival, as without a good morale, and will to live, your survival chances are very slim. The ability to start a fire “grounds you” – it gives you some sense of normalcy, lets you feel like you have power over the environment, and helps to make you think that things are “ok.” So at least having the ability to start a fire is critical

Now you could go all "caveman" and start a fire by rubbing two sticks together. There is the hand-drill method where you apply pressure and spin one piece of dry wood at a right angle to another piece of wood so that the friction between the two creates an ember (which can then set dry grass, etc. on fire). Or you could also slide one piece of wood along a groove you’ve made in another piece of wood to achieve the same result.

But we are "preppers"! And the point of prepping (like being a Boy Scout), is to “Be Prepared.” Being prepared means making sure you have the right tools, and supplies before a disaster occurs - it is proactive, not reactive. So we will not discuss how to start a fire like caveman here. Instead we will point out various fire making devices that you should consider as part of your core survival gear list.

Three such devices are a fire pistons, a magnesium fire starters, and solar fire starters

How To Start A Fire Using A Fire Piston

Step 1: Open The Fire Piston, Insert Char-Cloth, And Lubricate The O-Ring

First off, you're going to want to separate the fire piston so you're left with the two individual pieces. Then, simply roll a small piece of Char-Cloth up and insert it into the chamber. Second, you're going to want to lubricate the O-Ring so that it slides down the chamber easily when you place the two pieces of the fire piston back together. You can use Vaseline, chap stick, and even saliva if you don't have anything else on hand.

Step 2: Reassemble The Fire Piston And Ignite The Char-Cloth

After you've completed Step 1, simply insert the O-Ring piece of the fire piston into the air compression chamber end so it's just slightly inserted. It should be visible to you that the O-Ring has barely fit inside the compression chamber and is now ready to be pushed together with some force to ignite the Char-Cloth. Push the two ends together and the Char-Cloth will the be burning as an ember. Then again separate the fire piston into two pieces, and you'll then have access to the ember.

Step 3: Release The Burning Char-Cloth Ember Onto Your Tinder

Using dry grass as tinder is an easy way to get your fire started. Using a small stick or twig, dig the burning ember out of the fire piston and release it onto the dried grass/tinder pile. You can blow on the dry pile to add intensity to the ember. The dry grass pile will ignite and you'll then have a small flame to work with.

Step 4: Carefully Add Kindling To The Tinder

After the initial tinder flame is going, adding kindling will ensure the fire stays lit. Small, dry sticks and twigs work well for kindling. But be careful not to smother the small flame when adding the kindling. It's very easy to do, so be strategic with your kindling application.

Step 5: Add Firewood To The Kindling And Maintain The Fire

After building your fire up to a respectable level with the dry kindling sticks and twigs, you'll be ready to add some larger pieces of firewood onto the fire. Using a "Mini-Tee-Pee" or "Log Cabin" design works well to ensure your fire grows to a size you can effectively maintain and use for camp purposes.

Fire Pistons (Slam Rods) >>

Fire starting with the Sun

The advantages of carrying solar fire starters as are many. The most important of these advantages are that – given enough sun – you won’t need dry kindling. The act of just concentrating sun on damp twigs, bark shavings will be enough to dry them out and then finally cause them to ignite. So as long as you have enough sun, you will be able to make your survival fire.

Secondly, solar fire starting tools never wear out due to use and don’t get used up (like fire rods). As long as you protect your solar fire starter from damage, you can count on always being able to get a fire going.

The final advantage (even if a minor one) of packing a solar fire starter in your bug out bag is that they are light-weight. A good-sized Fresnel lens weights practically nothing.

The obvious disadvantage of relying on just a solar starter is that if it is nighttime, or extremely cloudy you won’t be able to start a fire. A good system would therefore be to carry a back-up fire piston! Your primary fire starter would be the solar starter. This would save most of the wear on the slam rod. But at night you would whip out your fire piston when you need a fire. Using this method you are “almost” guaranteed to be able to get a fire going whenever you want. With some planning such as drying out damp kindling when you have sun, and making a stash you should almost always be able to get a fire going quickly and easily.

Solar Fire Starters >>

Starting A Fire With A Magnesium Fire Starter

Step 1: Magnesium Ignition

A magnesium fire starter is designed to provide you with an easy to use and waterproof source of spark to ignite tinder. The most frequently used method of using a magnesium fire starter involves shaving a small portion of magnesium, generally about the size of your "pinky" finger, into a small pile. Then, by directing the flint part of the magnesium fire starter towards the small pile of magnesium, striking the flint with a knife or other sharp object will create the spark necessary to ignite the magnesium. Most often, a magnesium fire starter product will come with a steel striker included.

Step 2: Tinder

Tinder is the material used to start the fire and prepare the flame to be used on kindling to "build it up". There are many different materials you can use as tinder, including but not limited to: • Newspaper • Wood Shavings • Cotton Balls Coated In Vaseline Get the tinder to ignite upon the small pile of magnesium.

Step 3: Kindling

Kindling is meant to "bridge the gap" between tinder and firewood, making the flame more apt to continue burning rather than burn out on you. You can choose from a variety of different materials for your kindling, including but not limited to: • Small Dry Twigs And Dry Branches • Small Pieces Of Dead, Dry Wood Using a survival knife or hatchet on the pieces of wood you choose to use will make them small enough to be suitable. Carefully and strategically apply the kindling to the burning tinder.

Step 4: Firewood

Dead, dry wood is the best choice for firewood. If the wood is moist inside, or even worse wet, it won't ignite at the low temperature. Building a "Mini-Tee-Pee", or "Log Cabin" design over the top of the flame are frequently used methods to ignite the firewood at a campsite. Using small pieces of wood first works best, a foot in length and 2-3 inches thick for best results.

Step 5: Control

Building a firepit to control the flame of your fire is important. It prevents the fire from spreading out of control, and also creates a suitable wind barrier to accommodate steps 1-3. Use large rocks to assemble the firepit.

Magnesium Fire Starters >>