Essential Survival Skills Part 1 – How to Start a Fire

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

So the big idea behind survivalistguide.org is to present all the information you will need in order to better understand and deal with a potential survival situation. While the issues that could arise are never fully identifiable, there are always a few mile markers along the highway of destruction. Looking at the current landscape of the political and financial system in the United States, there are certainly a few red flags.


With that being said, there are several key factors to survival that you need to know. Over the next couple weeks, we’re going to cover the most essential skills you need and the supplies you should be gathering every day as you prepare.


Today, let’s look at one of the obvious skills you need… starting a fire. Sure, right now a fire is only a flick of the lighter away. But what happens when the matches are gone, the lighter is empty, and the fireplace has long grown cold? There are several ways that you can start a fire in a survival situation.

Friction Based Fire Starters

Friction is the tried and true form of survivalist fire starters the world over. Friction based fire starting is by far the most tedious and the hardest form to master. However, this is the most versatile means of starting fire. All friction-based methods will require a bundle of tender to catch the embers as they form.

1. The Plough



a. In this method you will need a rather flat piece of wood. You will need to carve a small groove into the plank that allows the spindle room to maneuver.

b. You will also need a separate stick, somewhere around 10 inches in length and about ¼ to ½ inch thick.

c. Now comes the fun part. Rub the stick through the groove continuously. As the wood heats you will begin to see smoke. DO NOT STOP! Keep pushing the stick and your embers will emerge quickly.

2. The Bow



a. This method will require a spindle, a plank, and a handmade bow that consists of a curved stick and some string.

b. Take your plank and carve a small hole in the base. This will serve as the bed for your embers.

c. Next, take your curved stick and tie your string to both ends of the stick. Leave a little slack in the string. Then take your spindle and wrap the loose string around the spindle. This will allow the spindle to be held securely while being able to spin freely.

d. Place your spindle in the hole on the plank, and begin “sawing” your bow back and forth. This will take quite some time, so patience is key.

Flint & Steel Method



Flint and steel is always a good stand-by. Easily accessible and rather cheap, there is no reason you could not have these 2 items in any of your survival kits or bug out bags. This method simply requires that you have a prepared tender pile. Simply rub the flint against the steel and you will have a spark!

Allow the sparks to settle into your tender pile and simply blow on the embers. It really is that simple.

Lens Based Method



The lens method is all about harnessing the power of the sun. This method can be used with a pair of eyeglasses, a magnifying glass, and even a balloon or condom. How does this work?

a. Using eyeglasses is as simple as taking your glasses off, placing them directly over a prepared tender pile, and then focusing the light of the sun into a small point on the tender.

b. The magnifying glass method is something that most people have seen or done in the past. Whether you are burning ants or starting a fire, the magnifying glass method will always work…as long as the sun is out. Simply focus the light of the sun onto a prepared pile of tender and allow the sun to do the work.

c. A balloon or condom? It can be done. Simply fill the balloon or condom with water until the item is ¼ of the way filled. The water will act as a lens. All you will do is squeeze the balloon until you are able to form a small point of light. The rest works just like all the other lens methods.

Battery Method



This method of fire starting will require a piece of steel wool and a battery, preferably a 9-volt battery. Simply stretch the steel wool out and then apply the battery to the wool, holding the steel wool on the contacts of the battery.

Done properly this will make the steel wool glow which will make embers that can be used to start a fire.

Fire is an essential element of any survival scenario regardless of the location. Having these simple items in your stash is a must. Fire will give you the ability to stay warm, cook food, boil water, keep animals away, and potentially signal for help.


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