Everything is a lot less dire – with fire!

If you’ve never been lost in the wood overnight – it can be a harrowing experience (to say the least)! It gets dark…dark dark, and if it’s a new moon…darker still. And, something as small as a field mouse, scurrying around in the leaves – is magnified too much more massive proportions! It’s scary if you’re not familiar with any of it, and a nice big fire can make all the difference in the world. It’s not just dark, it’s also cold. Fire can help you be found as well. It can mean  the difference between life and death. It’s a good thing know how to start from scratch, without a lighter or matches…….even if you’re just sitting on a long stretch of empty road, beside your broken down car!


Hand Drill – Rubbing two sticks together is the oldest and most difficult. Proper technique is required, along with proper wood (soft and DRY) for the base plate, and harder wood for the spindle. You have to apply friction continuously, until the temperature exceeds 800 degrees, before glowing embers form. Then you have to transfer the embers (successfully) to timber, and gently blow to get a flame.


This is the method you can be most proud of accomplishing. Impressive skill to have under your belt!

Fire Plough is the same friction process, but easier to keep your hands moving. Cut a groove in soft, dry wood, then plough the tip of your harder spindle up and down in the groove. The spindle pushes the dry, wood dust off the end of the soft board, into your tinder, and will (eventually) ignite as temperature increases.


Sawing Method – This is fairly simple to set up. Your softwood must be dry. Cut with notch across the board, like there would be, if you were sawing it in half (length-wise). Your hard wood should have a sharp edge to it, like a knife blade…tapered on one side, and fits snuggly into the groove you cut in your board. Then it’s just a quick, back and forth sawing motion – to build heat/friction.


Pump Fire Drill – Invented by the Iroquois, uses a flywheel to generate friction. The crossbar and flywheel are made of hardwood, the spindle and board are made of soft woods. A pumping motion, up and down, generates friction and creates embers. Need string/rope of some kind.


Bow Drill – similar to pump drill…this is the most efficient at maintaining speed and pressure….and the easiest to master. Experiment with different wood combinations. Again – soft for base, slighty harder fir spindle, and harder for bow and socket. Need string/rope of some kind.



A glowing ember won’t get you any closer to a fire, without the proper tinder! You’re looking to create something that you would place a tiny, newborn bird in to feel safe, and warm, and cozy. So – think of dried soft grasses, dry moss and lichen, and fluffy, soft, seed pod stuff (like milkweed, thistle, or cattail down). Gather it into a loose ball, that fits in the palm of your hand. Place the sturdier materials on the outside, like a nest…with the fluffy, softer stuff in the center. It needs air circulation to catch a flame! The best is to cradle it in your hands, close to your face – blowing very gently and steady. Do this on your knees, near the ground – don’t drop it! Have larger tinder and kindling ready to FEED your newborn flame!!! Don’t over-feed it, and kill it!!


You’ll need patience and a sharp knife….and of course a wooded area. I forget about people that live in the middle of cities. 😛 Walk around some parks or empty lots – looking for dead wood. Take a tote or backpack, and collect a variety of woods….especially if you aren’t familiar with the species. Pine trees (conifers) tend to be soft woods…the ones that keep their leaves, needles in the winter. Trees that lose their leaves in the fall/winter are deciduous, and typically hard woods. You need both types to make a fire. While you’re out, you’ll also need to collect some tinder, and kindling… it would be nice to ‘complete’ your fire – even a small one.

If you have wooded areas around your house – you’ll be making a fire in your yard. If you live in an apartment/condo, I think you could do this on your balcony, or in the parking lot. Get your materials together….take your time, and enjoy the process. Thankfully, you aren’t in a survival situation. Choose a fire making method, and practice till you get your fire started. Success!

Post about it to the group, or comment below. As usual – submit a comment in the box below to get your FireStarter Badge!

[badgeos_submission achievement_id=5513]


If you don’t see where you’ll ever be in a survival situation, or could care less about knowing HOW to make a fire…you can complete the quest one of two ways. These options require some money…the above ones are free. Get yourself a nice, small magnifying glass that goes on your keychain, or you can buy a small, flint striker set that goes on your keychain also. Make a fire with either – using the sunlight directed at your tinder, or by striking the flint (sparks). Flint is the better option – as you can make a fire anytime/anywhere. A magnifying glass is the easiest, but in a survival situation you’ll have to make your fire during the day, and keep it going all night. If it’s raining, or overcast – you’re gonna wish you’d gotten the flint, or learned how to make a friction fire!

Seriously though – don’t feel bad about going this route!! It makes sense to use modern tools in survival situations. It’s smart! And, it’s even smarter to have these on your person, at all time! Many people, for physical reasons – can’t pull off the friction method, especially elderly, and children. These tools on keychains are actually a perfect gift for a lot of people. It shows that you care in a very unique way that won’t be forgotten…even if they never come in use. Children are excellent at starting fires with magnifying glasses!! 😛

flint mag-glass

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