permaculture playing cards*
Permies likes alternative energy and the farmer likes Lighting fires without matches permies
  Search | Permaculture Wiki | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies | World Domination!
Register / Login
permies » forums » energy » alternative energy
Bookmark "Lighting fires without matches" Watch "Lighting fires without matches" New topic
Author

Lighting fires without matches

Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4583
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
173
The Tales from the Green Valley series showed how to light a fire using a flint and a piece of steel.



The segment starts at 3.18.

Does anyone have any experience of doing this? Any links to share? Or any knowledge of other low-tech fire-lighting techniques?


What is a Mother Tree ?
M Marx


Joined: Feb 14, 2012
Posts: 57
Location: Los Angeles
I like to scavenge big screen projection tv's on the way to the dump, making high tech into low tech that is pretty hi-tek-- inside are 3 glass lenses encased in plastic -- they make for perfect fire starters but you need to open them up and get rid of the plastic lenses inside. Close back up and you have an ant burner (hey I was a kid once).
The fresnel lens inside of the tv works well -- youtube "fresnel lens" good emergency cooking machine.
You can buy a magnesium fire starter kit for real cheap, similar to flint.
Any welding shop has cheap fire strikers.
Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8
Traditional flint and steel works really well, but there is definitely a knack to it and a correct way of holding things. Without the know-how one can be spectacularly unsuccessful. I can't remember any specific links but the 'traditional muzzleloading forum' would be a good place to start searching. The steel striker is a good blacksmithing project, you will learn something about steel types and tempering, and the history of the various styles. Having charcloth is important.

The trouble with lenses is that a lot of the times when you might really desperately need a fire there isn't any sun.

Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8
This thread has some good still photos of technique, scroll down about halfway to posts by 'jethro224'
muzzleloading forum
have fun..
M Marx


Joined: Feb 14, 2012
Posts: 57
Location: Los Angeles
Yeah, I agree and I think it is fairly obvious lenses don't work without sun, no? Plus, where I am we get 330 days of sun per year, so basically any day it works, not nights.
I am just offering alternatives in response to the question.
Respect ( I like ali g)
On the pluss side, one can start a fire in 3 seconds when the sun is shining, it takes almost no skill sets, where other methods can be "spectacularly unsucessful" as a wise one said cheers.
Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8
Cheers, friend...no disrespect intended i am jealous of all your sunshine. The winter nights are looong and dark here, and plenty of overcast.

You're right, making and using a striker and flint isn't a light undertaking, and will mean spending time and learning a whole bunch of new skills. But I like to encourage the handful who are interested to keep some of these heirloom technologies alive. We have become so terribly reliant on specialists and industry to support us with even our most basic needs that it's frightening.

Maybe someone here has experience with a fire bow and drill? That's another classic method and you don't even need steel.
Kirk Mobert


Joined: Jan 07, 2011
Posts: 129
Location: Point Arena, Ca
    
    2
I've learned how to use a fire-bow.. They're GREAT as long as you keep everything dry. With some practice you can get a fire going in just a few minuets. There is so much good information on using a fire-bow in the internet, I won't bother writing out the instructions here.. Just google it.
What I want to try is the "fire piston". It uses compression to start a little piece of char-cloth (or some such). Check it out!


Build it yourself, make it small, occupy it.
Deb Stephens


Joined: Dec 03, 2011
Posts: 206
Location: SW Missouri
    
    6
If you are in a position to need fire and have absolutely NO TOOLS with you to make it with, you still can get a flame if you have two simple things -- a piece of grass or other flexible plant stem and water. You can even use saliva in a pinch. This only works if you have some sun, however. Just make a tiny loop with the grass and dip it in water or spit. Hold that close to whatever tender you are using (leaves, dry grass, etc.) and focus sunlight through it like you would with a magnifying glass.

Believe it or not this really does work. I've made fires this way many times, and it isn't at all hard. Be careful who you teach though! I made the mistake of showing the technique to my young nephews once and they nearly burned the house down later when they did it unsupervised!
Max Kennedy


Joined: Feb 16, 2010
Posts: 461
Location: Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada
When out in the bush I carry 2 things, my Leatherman multitool and a firepiston. The latter is simple to make from store bought materials and small enough to easily carry anywhere.


It can be done!
Morgan Morrigan


Joined: Oct 16, 2011
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
Firepiston.

Now if only i could find some for 20 bucks instead of 100......


Get involved -Take away the standing of corporations MovetoAmmend.org
Max Kennedy


Joined: Feb 16, 2010
Posts: 461
Location: Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada
How about a couple of bucks??

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1169797/fire_piston_diy_diesel_lighter/
Deb Stephens


Joined: Dec 03, 2011
Posts: 206
Location: SW Missouri
    
    6
Wow -- I am definitely making one of those! I even already have all the parts in my assorted hardware box. Nothing to buy-- I like that!
Ray Cover


Joined: Apr 11, 2012
Posts: 132
Location: Missouri
I like my magnesium starter but the firepiston is a close second. Definitely simple tp use. If you make one the only thing I can recomend to add to the vids construction technique is to add a bigger knob of some kind on the ends. If those get too small diameter whacking it hard and fast can get uncomfortable on your hand. A larger surface to hit definitley makes it nicer.

Ray
Tom Broadhurst


Joined: Sep 09, 2014
Posts: 2
This might be helpful

http://sites.google.com/site/angophora/technotes/fire-lighting-techniques
Steven Harris
Author


Joined: Sep 07, 2014
Posts: 47
Frenel lenses from TVs, or any other place, make PISS POOR solar cookers, they are NOT a backup to cooking or even good for solar cooking. A regular solar oven with just a few reflectors will do miracles in solar cooking. I have solar cookers in my book Sunshine to Dollars and I have a book on Solar Cookery in the SOLAR section of www.KnowledgePublications.com As for 'starting fires', just go to solarfire1234.com and see what I have there, there is a nice video.

it makes flint and steel look sick, but as long as you have sunshine.

Steve


Get all of my Free Energy Classes at
http://www.Steven1234.com
Troy Rhodes


Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 201
    
    2
And of course, would could use flint and steel together with a handy flammable gas.

Voila, a bic lighter. Buy 6, stash everywhere.

Exotic techniques are fun, and a wonderful skill to develop, but lighters take the drama out of the process.

troy
Michael Cox


Joined: Jun 09, 2013
Posts: 916
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
    
  22
I have used firebows, magnesium strikers, pistons, flint and steel etc... sucessfully.

I still buy lighters by the dozen and scatter them so I can lay my hands on them quickly. I tend to use the "cricket" brand that use a pizo-electric spark rather than a steel striker. They seem more reliable when wet.
allen lumley
pollinator

Joined: Mar 16, 2012
Posts: 2388
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
    
  40
- O.K. so the initial spark is the hard part, but the tinder better be dry and ready, and and you should always have in hand 3 times as much dry kindling as you
think you need, and the same for the rest of the wood ! Plan ahead ! !!!

Cedar bark, crushed down almost to dust, looking like a mass of dark brown spiders web is the best kindling that I know of ! Big Al


Success has a Thousand Fathers , Failure is an Orphan

LOOK AT THE " SIMILAR THREADS " BELOW !
Troy Rhodes


Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 201
    
    2
Char cloth makes all of the traditional firemaking methods easier.

There are a ton of videos out there, but the process boils down to this:

Cut up some cotton cloth (100% cotton). Old tee shirts or denim work well.

Put it in a (nearly) airtight can, like an Altoids tin, or an old (cleaned out) shoe polish tin.

Put the cotton in the tin, drill a small hole in the tin (1/8" to 1/4") and heat the tin on low heat OUTSIDE until most of the smoke stops coming out the vent. Should take ten or fifteen minutes, depending on how much cloth you pack in there. Comes out very black and dirty/messy.

Once it cools off, you have char cloth. This readily catches fire from even a small spark.

Here's a random pretty good video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW_m7tKTMK8

troy


Steven Harris
Author


Joined: Sep 07, 2014
Posts: 47
Just go get a 1 quart empty paint can with lid from Home Depot or Lowes for about a buck or two.... the level of heat does not matter, you can put it on a propane burner at high heat, it'll still char, I'd go with the 1/8th" hole over the 1/4" hole...and after the smoke has been coming out.. have some fun, light it. You'll get a nice flame. What you are making is a retort. What you are making is what some people would also call biochar...but its really just carbon.

Steve
allen lumley
pollinator

Joined: Mar 16, 2012
Posts: 2388
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
    
  40
Time for the' 'old joke- how do you get to Carnage Hall !?? Practice, Practice, Practice ! ''

Way back when a kid could carry a toy gun down the street and not worry about the Police or anyone Calling the Police, every kid wanted a daisy air rifle,
a two holstered gun belt with cap guns and aCotton flannel blanket with Indian signs on it for his bed! Definitely NOT anyones Blanky

I taught a cousin how to make Char cloth from that blanket, and it disappeared for 30 years, its remains tell me It was a lot smaller than I remember !

The Burning Bush of biblical fame does exist, and is related to our Creosote bush from the Southwest, I had a 'guide' show me just how flammable the
former can be -picked up as a dead weed on the side of the road and still smelling faintly of resin and oil !

Old strips of cedar bark thrown down on a dirt drive to be driven on and parked on soon break down to a fine tinder for catching that elusive spark,while
still containing essential oils to burst into fire.

I do expect that the cedar bark could also be charred to good effect,and there must be a happy medium where all of the oils are not burned off, I would
expect that using a propane torch, and repeatedly lighting and dousing the flames would work best !

Regardless to go back to my original point, while this is a fine backup, even if you carry a butane licker that is out of gas but has a good spark - - -

Practice this before you leave home ! Practice, Practice, Practice ! Big AL

Steven Harris
Author


Joined: Sep 07, 2014
Posts: 47
"I do expect that the cedar bark could also be charred to good effect,and there must be a happy medium where all of the oils are not burned off, I would
expect that using a propane torch, and repeatedly lighting and dousing the flames would work best ! "

Nope...that would do a very very bad job of it. Here is a youtube video where I do it in a soda can !!
http://youtu.be/i5lUVYy37TY?list=UUNi9vdSxCq67dx9b2DUY0GQ

Steve
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 3816
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  53
The burning bush of biblical fame does exist in the Sinai desert. The bark gives off ethylene which self ignites in bright sun. This kills parasites.

Once on a demolition project, a guy set off the fire alarm. Rather than going to the trouble of shutting it down, he wrapped it in a blanket to muffle the sound. He removed the blanket when it started to smoke.

A fire alarm almost started a fire.


QUOTES FROM MEMBERS --- In my veterinary opinion, pets should be fed the diet they are biologically designed to eat. Su Ba...The "redistribution" aspect is an "Urban Myth" as far as I know. I have only heard it uttered by those who do not have a food forest, and are unlikely to create one. John Polk ...Even as we sit here, wondering what to do, soil fungi are degrading the chemicals that were applied. John Elliott ... O.K., I originally came to Permies to talk about Rocket Mass Heaters RMHs, and now I have less and less time in my life, and more and more Good People to Help ! Al Lumley...I think with the right use of permie principles, most of Wyoming could be turned into a paradise. Miles Flansburg... Then you must do the pig's work. Sepp Holzer
allen lumley
pollinator

Joined: Mar 16, 2012
Posts: 2388
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
    
  40
Steve Harris : Thank you for the wide knowledge base that you so freely share here and in your books. I have several ! I feel that we are both here to serve
the same purpose, for the same reason, even if we arrive here coming from different places !

As a man who carried Char cloth and strike any where Kitchen matches all inside a paper 20 gage shotgun shell tucked down into a paper 12 gage shotgun
shell and sealed with candle wax the last thing I am trying to do is to deny the efficacy of Char cloth as great aid to starting fires on demand, in fact
that is the very most important part, and the point I have been trying to make here - On demand needs practice !

I Respectfully wish to point out that I am Creating a MUCH different final product than Char cloth. The very last thing I want to do in preparing Cedar bark as
a great tinder is to drive off all the essential oils, and by essential I mean highly volatile! I speak personally only that I find prepared Cedar bark MY
superior kindling !

When I use an old piece of Cedar bark as kindling material, I generally aim for the spot that is charred from before as I know that the finely shredded Cedar
Bark does hold and re-distribute its own oils, usually the spark lands where it will -to good success.

I am sure that I and friends, and other acquaintances who use this technique are greatly out numbered by Woods People who carry Charcloth with a spark
maker! This does not diminish its value -the goal is to be prepared ! For the Good of the Crafts ! Big AL
Mat Smith


Joined: Jan 01, 2014
Posts: 63
Location: Gold Coast Hinterland QLD, Australia
    
    1
My favourite that I always carry when going hunting is a flint at about $2 each, and cotton wool soaked in vaseline.
Work well in wet and windy conditions, and takes up very little space.
Tom Broadhurst


Joined: Sep 09, 2014
Posts: 2
I discovered a new method of fire lighting on the web, spontaneous combustion...

It just takes oily rags.

http://sites.google.com/site/angophora/technotes/fire-lighting-methods
Miles Flansburg
steward

Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 2234
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
    
  57
I want to try a mushroom !

Troy Rhodes


Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 201
    
    2
Finally found my list. I collected most (all?) of the primitive and exotic fire making methods some time ago. If it's not exhaustive, it's pretty close. If I've missed one, feel free to chime in.

I have tried many, but not all of these. A youtube or google search for any of these will produce copious results.




Most, if not all of the primitive fire making methods work better and easier and faster if you use char cloth, which is easy to make.

Hand fire drill, Rub a stick with your hands on a fireboard until you get smoke and an ember. Better have tough hands and stamina. And the right wood, at the right dryness.

Bow drill on a fireboard until you get smoke and an ember.

Rub a stick in a shallow groove in a fireboard until you get smoke and an ember. Sometimes known as the fire plough.

2 person fire drill with string. One person holds the dowel with the fire stick on the bottom and a bearing stick/board on the top. A little lubricant on the top helps, even if it's just rubbing the stick around in your scalp. The other person wraps a string around the dowel once and a half. They provide the horsepower by sawing the string back and forth, you stabilize the dowel and fire board.

The fire thong. Pass a flexible dry hard split branch or vine (about the size of your little finger) through a groove in the underside of your fireboard. Use a sawing motion. The fireboard has a bowl with a small hole above the groove (still on the underside). The sawing motion put that hot charred dust up into the bowl and provides enough heat to make a tiny coal.

In general, most wood/friction fire making methods do best with a very dry softwood board and a hardwood dowel/shaft. Yellow pine is hard enough and the right resin content to work well as the dowel.

The pump fire drill. This variant put a small flywheel just above the business end. Elegant. Far easier on the hands and generally pretty fast and efficient.

The bamboo fire saw.

Steel wool and 9V battery, ditto car battery, ditto, couple cell phone batteries, ditto several D-cells in series. This can harm the battery, and possibly blow up the car battery.

Fire piston. This is a close fitting piston (often with o-rings) in a small long cylinder. There's a cup or clip on the end to put your char cloth. Slam the piston down in the cylinder and the compression heats the air up past the ignition point of the char cloth. This is how a diesel engine ignites the fuel and is reportedly how Otto Diesel (the inventor) came upon the idea for a new engine.

Ferrocerium rod and steel scraper

Flint and steel

Flint/Ferrocerium/striker and magnesium shavings

Polish the concave bottom of a soda can so it makes a converging mirror. Put char cloth at focal point.

Spontaneous combustion with oily cotton rags. This seems to work better if the oily rag has been lightly washed once. Make it very dry, put it in a warm sunny spot. Wait................

Expose a fingernail sized piece of sodium to water with a pile of tinder over it. And why exactly are you carrying solid sodium around

Use a magnifying glass, farsighted folks (a “plus” prescription) can use their glasses. Nearsighted folks wear a “minus” prescription which is a diverging lens and useless for fire making.

Make a small loop of wire (or grass in a pinch) and suspend a drop of water inside the circle of wire. This is now a (small) magnifying glass with a short focal length. It takes perfect tinder for this to work. Utterly dry, very fine, not too much wind.

Start with a clear block of ice, carve a 5-6” lens and use as a magnifier to start a fire.

Take a piece of plastic wrap (the size of a dinner plate is good.) Support the plastic wrap on a ring of stones or branches so it's shaped like a bowl. Fill with water, then carefully pick it up, drawing the edges together to make, basically, a water balloon. AHAH! It's a lens. Start fire just like any other lens. Extra exotic—use your own urine. You should be able to win a bar bet with this one. “HA! I can make fire with piss!”

A clear condom will do the same thing if you stretch the latex thin enough to become transparent to the sun.
allen lumley
pollinator

Joined: Mar 16, 2012
Posts: 2388
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
    
  40
Miles thanks for sharing this, I kinda got to speak to his phrase-ology here By carefully pounding out a sheet of this polypore you get something that looks like
A very soft lumpy suede, a small piece of this could be placed in the "Flash Pan " of ANY flintlock rifle (common during our revolutionary war) the flint lock cocked,
and then by pulling the trigger the flint lock struck against the steel 'lip' of the firing pan hopefully showering the suede-like and flammable prepared material,
giving you a chance to start a fire with out wasting powder! This whole job would have been easier with a flint-lock pistol !

A soldier would have been told to 'look to your weapon' and he would dry fire it, 'charge your pan' meant using his powder flask or powder horn to place
several grains of power into the flash pan, ignition of that powder was supposed to carry hot sparks Through the 'touch hole' to the powder and lead bullet lodged
in the barrel !

Occasionally, the powder in the flash pan Would flash with out setting off the main charge in the rifle ! This was called a 'flash in the pan' and the soldier this happened
to would suffer some kidding and some personal training from a junior officer ! Flash in the pan became to mean any noisy thing or person that didn't accomplish any-
thing ! This phrase was further re-enforced into our vocabulary when flash powder came into use in photography as the subject still had to set very still !

The Touch hole, being at the end of a long barrel or tube as far away from the mouth of the weapon was compared to a similar hole as far away from a persons mouth
as possible, and if touched by flame as likely to case the person to bellow as loud as an early flint lock ! Big AL
 
 
subject: Lighting fires without matches
 
cast iron skillet 49er

more from paul wheaton's glorious empire of web junk: cast iron skillet diatomaceous earth sepp holzer raised garden beds raising chickens lawn care flea control missoula electric heaters permaculture videos permaculture books