3 Items for Primitive Fire Starting
Since the dawn of time, mankind has needed fire, not only to heat up our bodies but also to cook and preserve our food as well as illuminate darkened areas. Fire has been used to keep animals at bay that may otherwise feed or kill unsuspecting humans when they are asleep. Today, our needs for fire are no less important; from our need for heat from a fireplace for warmth on a chilly night, to our need for making our drinking water and food safe for human consumption. Humans have always used primitive fire starting methods and now we even have items to help us with this.
Since you know that you will need fire, you will want a combustion device as a component of your kit. There are various primitive ways in which to start a controlled fire however you must always remember that you’ll need to practice and apply your fire starting skills as this certainly is amongst the most important and vital survival skills you’ll ever learn. Fire is usually terribly tough to produce from solely natural materials, especially in some environments, and it requires a high level of skill and precision to be able to apply those skills in the field when you’re chance of living and dying are relying on them, it’s always good to have some items to help you start fires in survival situations and three of these items are lighters, ferrocerium rods and a magnifying glass.
Lighters are a great item to help you with primitive fire starting. As with every other piece of equipment, there are thousands of varieties of lighters on the market that are accessible to you. Which one is the best though? The most effective is the one that’s the most reliable in foul weather and bad conditions, is the longest enduring over time in your pack when not in use, and has the ease of use when you require it. Just an ordinary BIC lighter is a great candidate for your survival gear. Other lighters that require adding fluid fuels can be susceptible to evaporation, and if they need components replaced and aren’t a throwaway or disposable item, they are too sophisticated to be reliable out in the wilderness. For ease of use, it is hard to beat the simplicity of flicking a BIC Lighter, do not accept any budget imitations as this item could well be a life saver; get a true BIC, and if at all possible, get it in a bright color (for example Orange) so that you can notice it and find it easily when you need it.
It is highly recommended that you have a minimum of 3 lighters; one for your pocket, one for your belt pouch, and one inside your main pack, you may even want to have a few spares as the weight is negligible and the usefulness of them cannot be understated. The general rule of thumb for a lighter or other open-flame device is that it will take 5 seconds to ignite tinder and that any additional use of it is a waste of lighter fuel.
BIC lighters do have one significant problem however, they are vulnerable to the cold. If the lighter itself is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it will not be able to light and produce the fire or heat that you need. Keeping one close to the body inside a pocket is the best and simplest method to avoid this issue. If for some reason the lighter does get wet, it will not spark or light until it becomes dry once more. This can be accomplished by allowing it sit and dry out or by removing the front housing and drying the actual striking wheel. Replace the dry wheel to make it operate once again.
A Ferrocerium rod (also known as Flint and Steel) is a solid rod made up of pyrophoric materials like iron, magnesium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, and praseodymium and can also be used for primitive fire starting. Some of these materials have a really low combustion temperature, and when you produce friction against the rod, combustion occurs. To accomplish this, you need a right angled sharp edge that’s tougher than the material of the rod. This harder edge will then take away the material and make the spark that you will use for combustion. For use within the woods, it is best to possess the biggest and longest rod possible, as this will increase the surface area of the rod and create more friction over distance. A longer rod will have additional material removed as you strike it which will create more sparks. We personally prefer to carry a blank rod that’s about 6 inches long with a diameter of an inch to an inch and a half, with the end wrapped in 1 inch of adhesive tape. (This creates a handle and acts as an emergency flame extender as well.) Many rods have handles of plastic, wood, or even antler, but unless they are drilled, pinned and fastened, there is a chance that the rod will eventually pop out of the handle.It would be wise to shop for a blank rod and wrap it with tape which will not come off (unless you purposely want it removed).
Ferrocerium rods have few issues or problems. However, if you do not use the rod for some time, it may oxidize. You can remove oxidized material with the blunt side of your knife, or you can add a light coat of paint on the rod and scrape this off on your next subsequent use. If uneven pressure is applied through repeated tries at striking, you may additionally develop ripples on the rod itself. You will need to get rid of these so that the rod will function properly, as they will act like speed bumps when you are striking the rod and make it difficult to start a fire. To remove these, you need to use excess pressure to get rid of the extra material and create a flat striking surface once more. If you properly strike the rod, it should take no more than 3 tries to ignite your tinder. If this does not happen, there is a problem with the tinder and you will need to decipher what it is. The rod is a resource that should always be conserved.
From the point of view of resource management for your kit, the magnifying glass is absolutely the simplest fire-starting method and requires no finite resources. If the sun is shining, you need only natural materials to start fire starting. If you have made burn material, this will be simply lit in seconds by the sun. Any lens carried should be at least 5x magnification; size is really a lot more crucial though than power of magnification. The larger the surface area is to gather up the sun’s rays, the better it’ll work. You do not really need to go overboard when it comes to this aspect however, a simple lens can work fine it’ll simply take slightly longer. There are containers for tinder with inbuilt glasses, called Hudson Bay Tobacco Boxes, which were designed to carry tobacco and ignite the pipe. These work well for holding charred material and alternative fire-starting implements in a nice self-contained kit. The large lens from a broken set of functional binoculars or a Fresnel lens from any drug store also will work well.