Alternative Fire Starting Methods.

10:36 a.m. on August 15, 2010 (EDT)
36 reviewer rep
148 forum posts

Aside from the obvious methods such as lighters, matches, and sparking devices, what do you know or think you have in your pack that will aid you in starting an emergency fire?

10:43 a.m. on August 15, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
415 forum posts

Well there's always the old "coke can and chocolate bar" method.

12:52 p.m. on August 15, 2010 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,861 reviewer rep
1,325 forum posts

I have a combination of things that I use.

I carry the following:

cottonballs and pet jelly-from my kitchen setup

olive oil-kitchen setuo

hand sanitizer-first aid/toiletries

small piece of fire starter log (fireplace etc style)-backup for kitchen

2 3in piece of a sparkler firework-emergency

light my fire scout firesteel-normal use

fire piston-backup firestarter

Now this may seem like alot, but in reality its not. I use a woodgas stove for 90% of my cooking so I use either the cotton balls with petro jelly or the firestarter pieces to get that going typically. If it's really dry then I can usually get it going with just a few leaves and my fire steel or piston.

The 2 3in sparkler pieces work amazingly well as an emergency fire starter. I found the trick to getting them lit. I put one of the cotton balls with the jelly on the end of it and keep that in a ziploc. Normally it would take you a good 30+ seconds with a jet style lighter to get a sparkler to light up, and well frankly, that is far too long in am emergency. So, I put one of the cotton balls on the end and light the cotton ball, this will light the sparkler in about the same 30 seconds or so.

Once the sparkler gets going it will catch even the wetest of woods/tinder. The sparkler burns at 4000*F! I have tested this out in my backyard many times, as well as actually out on the trail in thunderstorms, and have been able to get a good fire going despite heavy rains.

My whole setup weighs about 3.5 ounces. And that is with about 20 cottonballs. Like I said I use the cottonballs often, but when the wood is a little wet I found the small piece of firestarter brick works great because it will burn for a good 30 minutes or so. And then I also have olive oil which actually belongs to my kitchen setup as well, but will double as a good fire starter if needed, as well as hand sanitizer.

I use my fire steel to do everything that normally requires ignition in some form(i dont carry a lighter). My fire piston is my backup means, and it works great. I carry the fire piston mainly because no matter what, rain, sleet, shine, or snow, I can get a hot coal from a wet piece of tinder in 1 or 2 comressions.

2:47 p.m. on August 15, 2010 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,308 reviewer rep
1,079 forum posts

9v battery and steel wool...

2:52 p.m. on August 15, 2010 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,308 reviewer rep
1,079 forum posts

I'd also like to think I could get something going if I found a Bombardier Beetle on the trail...or just happened to be carrying one in my pocket...

3:35 p.m. on August 15, 2010 (EDT)
14 reviewer rep
318 forum posts

I have a fire piston and I also carry a 8.5 x 11 Fresnel lens. I still take a lighter. I am trying to figure what local resources I can use to make a hand fire.

4:09 p.m. on August 15, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,567 forum posts

Well there's always the old "coke can and chocolate bar" method.

I haven't tried that yet, but some of the guys who use alcohol stoves made from various aluminum cans polish the bottom of the can for that reason.

4:18 p.m. on August 15, 2010 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

Carrying three fresh butane lighters has always provided me an ignition source in every situation. I know its not sexy or manly wood lore, but its tripple redundancy buys peace of mind. I also carry some two inch long ¼” diameter paper rolls pickled in paraffin, to use on wet wood and starter materials. An absolutely brainless, light and simple system, all told.

If you are addressing what-if survival tricks, boot laces coupled with a stick bow and drill will get it done the old school way.
Ed

4:32 p.m. on August 15, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,567 forum posts

Yet another alternative method is to bet a buddy he or she can't get the fire started, leverage their ego.

4:36 p.m. on August 15, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
596 forum posts

A very simple method if you need fire and have little energy yourself is to use potassium permanganate and glycerin. Keep the two separated in your pack until needed. Pour a little mound of potassium permanganate on the fire area, heap tinder around it, then sprinkle a few drops of glycerin on the potassium permanganate. Don't inhale the gases.

As kids we used to make tubes containing both chemicals - separated - and then mash the tubes together. 'Course as kids we were always making other things that got us in even more trouble. [Not to self- don't mention those.]

9:28 p.m. on August 15, 2010 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,308 reviewer rep
1,079 forum posts

I have a feeling if I start searching for potassium permanganate and glycerin I'm gonna get on the wrong kind of lists...could you indulge us a little more on how you source the materials for this fire-starting method, overmywaders?

9:50 p.m. on August 15, 2010 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,861 reviewer rep
1,325 forum posts

Keep in mind for an emergency fire starter you want something that is very easy to use, as in an emergency you probally fell off a bridge into freezing water, almost drowned, barely made it to shore and are suffering from hypothermia. Your body is shivering uncontrolably and your hands are so numb you can barely use them.

You will be in a situation something like that. All you want to have to do is provide a small spark and have a fire that will start with out a doubt.

Fill your bathtub with water, then a bunch of ice. Hop in and wait 10 minutes, then get out and see if you can use a lighter. I am willing to put money on that you can not.

I remember when I had to go to SERE school they basically had us sit in this tub of ice water for what seemed like forever and then had us make a fire. I can honestly say that the easiest method was a fire steel. If you can touch the two pieces together you can at least get a small spark with only a minute amount of friction. I don't recall ever seeing anyone succeed with a lighter. Having wet fire, storm matches, emergency tinder in whatever form you carry it only goes so far. The ignition source is the key for an emergency. It should require as little dexterity and fine motor skills as possible.

Lighters, and matches are no good in a true emergency in my personal opinion. Survival, sure they would work fine, but for a true emergency then that is a whole different animal.

9:30 a.m. on August 16, 2010 (EDT)
36 reviewer rep
148 forum posts

Pillowthread, could you please explain the battery set up, how it works and what is a bombadier beetle.

9:33 a.m. on August 16, 2010 (EDT)
36 reviewer rep
148 forum posts

And overmywaders, yes where do you get this combo.

10:35 a.m. on August 16, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,567 forum posts

I'd also like to think I could get something going if I found a Bombardier Beetle on the trail...or just happened to be carrying one in my pocket...

Are you sure you want to carry one in your pocket?

Maybe sew a carbon fiber or fiberglass liner in that pocket?

I studied these beetles in school, they are very cool.

11:27 a.m. on August 16, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,149 forum posts

Keep in mind for an emergency fire starter you want something that is very easy to use, as in an emergency you probally fell off a bridge into freezing water, almost drowned, barely made it to shore and are suffering from hypothermia. Your body is shivering uncontrolably and your hands are so numb you can barely use them.

Well said. This is why I carry the Firesteel around my neck, pet jelly soaked cotton balls, and huricane matches. I will probably add some sparkler sections to my kit as well.

I would love to make or buy a good fire piston sometime- did you make yours or buy it from someone?

12:23 p.m. on August 16, 2010 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,861 reviewer rep
1,325 forum posts

Gonzan, my fire piston was passed down to me from my Grandfather to my father to me. I am not sure who made it, but assume it was my Great grandfather, he was a woodworker and made all kinds of things.

It's just a simple oak wood fire piston that uses a piece of twine as the seal.

1:46 p.m. on August 16, 2010 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,308 reviewer rep
1,079 forum posts

@ Brad: The battery/steel wool method is pretty easy...take a charged 9V battery, and touch both terminals with the finest grade steel wool you can find (brillo pads work great). The steel wool will rapidly oxidize, turning into a molten, flaming blob.

The bombardier beetle, when agitated, produces an extremely exothermic chemical reaction in it's "abdomen" resulting in the ejection of a liquid substance at temperatures up to 212F. If one could make use of the heat from the reaction without necessarily getting one's tinder wet, now THAT would be bushcraft...and arthropod abuse...

8:59 p.m. on August 16, 2010 (EDT)
75 reviewer rep
306 forum posts

There was a similar link on this topic with a lot of great ideas:

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/beginners/topics/64391.html

9:37 p.m. on August 16, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
596 forum posts

Potassium permanganate is very inexpensive and useful. You can get a pound of it for a few dollars on ebay. Hikers carry it, or used to, as an antiseptic and for treating water (it kills the little beasties in the H2O). It also turns your skin a nice shade of brown if you want a quick tan.

Glycerin (glycerol) is a natural compound that is used to soften the skin, soften veneers before laying, etc. IIRC, it also is a laxative. You can get a small bottle at a drug store, or a gallon on ebay. Always good to have around.

Just keep the two separated unless you need fire.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWzZoaAOE3Y

9:48 p.m. on August 16, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,149 forum posts

Just be aware that you will likely end up on a number of watchlists if you go buying potassium permanganate online...

10:12 p.m. on August 16, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
596 forum posts

gonzan,

The likelihood of anyone getting on a watchlist for a pool chemical unless he/she is buying large quantities is, IMO, remote. I used Potassium permanganate in woodworking as it is an old wood dye for oak and mahogany - though not as easy to manipulate or as lightfast as potassium dichromate. PP reacts with the tannin in the wood. PP has so many hundreds of benign uses, the powers that be would have to watch half the country... which they probably do anyway. :)

1:13 a.m. on August 17, 2010 (EDT)
75 reviewer rep
306 forum posts

Oh, the big brother theory....

2:56 a.m. on August 17, 2010 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,308 reviewer rep
1,079 forum posts

Gonzan, we are on the same wavelength here...now I could probably find it at my local Rural King...

10:45 a.m. on August 17, 2010 (EDT)
36 reviewer rep
148 forum posts

Again this topic has strayed. I was hoping that from the normal things we carry, not specifically for fire making, you could think of things already in your packs that could be used for fire starting.

12:19 p.m. on August 17, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,567 forum posts

I know I'm talking to the choir, but....

The basic fire triangle is Fuel - Oxygen - Heat I'm sure everyone on Trailspace knows that. Starting a fire by primitive means when in distress is easier if we remember this, but easier said than done. While we can improvise with non fire making items from our packs, having to do so would indicate a catastrophic failure to be prepared, or to remain prepared. The latter is more understandable, you fell in the creek & lost lighter, got separated from your pack, you dropped your lighter down a crack, used the last match, etc.

Regardless of how you have become unable to start a fire by modern means, the basic principles still apply. So you have two basic options at this point, you can improvise from the items you have with you, or use primitive methods utilizing materials supplied by nature. In either case this is NOT a proper backup plan.

Either choice requires some amount of preexisting knowledge / skill for you to have a reasonable chance at success. If you haven't tried the various primitive methods out under bad conditions, you may be a lot less prepared than you understand.

I think a fail safe system is the best approach, and what most members here probably do. But if you venture away from your pack where your fire starting items are you have compromised that system.

This is why I NEVER walk away from camp, or my pack, without the basic essentials going with me. You can get lost or hurt, your pack could be stolen, whatever.

This is the reason you see survival people wearing a knife & fire steel around their neck, or somewhere on their person.

I personally also carry a metal water bottle, not plastic, when wandering around without my pack so I can boil water in an emergency.

If you get into the habit of having the essentials with you at all times you should never find yourself rubbing two sticks together in an emergency YOU have created.

I simply use the detachable lid of my backpack to store my essential kit in, and wear it when off fishing or hiking away from camp.

It's one thing to leave the house prepared, and another to stay that way.

I learned this the hard way by getting lost.

12:51 p.m. on August 17, 2010 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,861 reviewer rep
1,325 forum posts

Good post trouthunter, and I agree with you 100% that being adequately prepared is the #1 priority.

That being said, to get back to the OP's question specifically.

Alternative fire starting methods from normal items one might be carrying:

This is obviously incase ,like trouthunter said, a catastrophic failure of some kind has occured.

1) With a little bit of knowledge, practice and skill one can make a fire bow from their bootlaces.

2) Also with knowledge,practice, and skill you can make a hand drill setup.

Both 1 and 2 require knowledge of the skill at a minimum, practice makes this about 1000x easier. And is incredibly difficult to make either without a knife. Yes, you may be able to make do using rocks and sturdy sticks but it will take substansially more time and effort.

3) Short a battery with a piece of thin gauge wire, it doesn't have to be as thin as steel wool(where that vaporizes with the aforementioned 9v and steel wool trick) but merely hot enough to get the wire glowing red hot. Then you can slowly apply tinder and oxygen to get a fire started.

4)Use your knife to strike a piece of granite or other hard stone. While this does not work nearly as well as a fire steel, it will produce a spark, however with this method it is extremely hard to direct/catch the sparks produced.

5) use a lens off of a slr style camera to focus sunlight

Those are just a few methods that I know of. I was taught many improvised ways to make a fire in the military when I went through SERE school. Like trouthunter said, remember the fire triangle of fuel, heat, and oxygen.

If you have never tried to make a fire with a bow or hand drill you will be in for a rude awaking if you ever try it for the first time in a survival situation. You will probally end up with blisters and raw open sores on your hands, this will also happen to some extent even if you are knowledgable in the skill. And if you say you don't get blisters etc, then I am throwing the BS flag on you because you are more than likely full of it.

Echoing on what trouthunter said I leave you with this.

Prior Proper Planning/Practice Prevents Piss Poor Peformance

If you plan properly, you will always be prepared. And if you do ever find yourself without your gear, the practice of those primitive/alternative skills will undoubtedly save your life.

1:17 p.m. on August 17, 2010 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,622 reviewer rep
5,396 forum posts

....If you have never tried to make a fire with a bow or hand drill you will be in for a rude awaking if you ever try it for the first time in a survival situation. You will probally end up with blisters and raw open sores on your hands, this will also happen to some extent even if you are knowledgable in the skill. And if you say you don't get blisters etc, then I am throwing the BS flag on you because you are more than likely full of it.....

Rambler, I have used the bow and drill method since I was a young kid growing up on the reservation (for fun, not in a survival situation - never been in a real survival situation, though many training and practice ones). I have never gotten any blisters from bow and drill. I have gotten them occasionally from a hand drill (where you put your hands together on either side of the drill and rub them back and forth rapidly to spin the drill). A lot of it is technique. In the case of the bow, I don't see how you would get blisters unless you are using the setup way wrong. The hand drill is another story, until you learn the proper technique (and build a few callouses).

I prefer the non-technical approaches, which rules out the battery/steel wool approach, along with manufactured lenses. Important thing to note on eyeglasses, though - it doesn't work if you use eyeglasses with an astigmatism correction (which, I understand from my optometrist, is the vast majority of eyeglasses out there these days). On the camera lenses - it would have to be a real survival situation before I would try one of my multi-hundred dollar SLR lenses (in which case, a thousand dollar lens is a small sacrifice for my life).

Interesting thing about fire pistons is how many contradictory stories there are about where, when, and how fire pistons originated.

2:00 p.m. on August 17, 2010 (EDT)
75 reviewer rep
306 forum posts

I think Trout said it pretty well with the 7P method of thinking. That has worked well for me while I was in the Navy, in my current job and when adventuring outdoors too!

2:06 p.m. on August 17, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
596 forum posts

As I mentioned in a previous post, potassium permanganate was a staple for the hiker years ago. It still is valuable. Iodine has now been ruled out (in Europe as of 2009) as a safe method of purifying water; but potassium permanganate is still recommended.

Potassium permanganate - This is another cheap and easy way to purify water. Potassium permanganate crystals can be bought from any chemist and you need add only about 3 or 4 crystals per litre of water (or until the water stains a light pink) and leave for 30 minutes. Potassium permanganate can also be used as a disinfectant for cleaning wounds, add crystals one by one until water turns purple (approx. 0.01% solution).

(http://www.travelhealthzone.com/away/water/5-purification.php)

So I would carry a little PP for the purposes above as well as firestarting when wet/cold/incapacitated. If I had a broken arm, many of the emergency firestarting methods mentioned above would be difficult, but I could still open a 35mm film container of PP and dribble some glycerin on it from a tube.

As to why carry glycerin:

Here is a partial list of its uses:
Reduces or eliminates any skin disturbance, from psoriasis to bug bites or burns. Apply the pure Glycerin USP form. Feels oily, vanishes into the skin in about 10 minutes (signals cells to open transport channels). Cuts off pain and itching by quieting injured cells, not a "nerve blocker".
Doubles healing speed, cuts scarring in half.
Carries most materials mixed with it into the skin, especially water. Mixed with water, an excellent moisturizer. (Principal component of most commercial preparations.)
Pure form kills all bacteria on contact by instantly drawing the water out of them.
Eliminates halitosis by killing sulfurous bacteria on back of tongue if swished and gargled. (Tastes slightly sweet.)
De-congest nasal passages by rubbing a few drops of glycerine-water mix just inside the nostrils. Takes about 15 minutes to soften blockage and quiet agitated nasal passages, opening the airway.
A teaspoon or two orally, or commercial glycerine suppositories, are a mild laxative.
Softens and removes calluses.
Being researched as a cancer cell "quieter", to prevent cells from proliferating.
Other than the above, some long-distance runners have used it as a drink for stamina, but not everyone's stomach enjoys such a large amount all at once.
Helps thicken skin weakened by pregnazone treatments for rheumatism, Parkinson's, etc.
It is also used in foods and toothpaste as a sweetener and blending agent.

The reasons above are not all, but sufficient for me to carry a small tube of glycerin. The wound care properties alone are significant; burn units use skin grafts preserved in glycerin for better retention rates.

4:52 p.m. on August 17, 2010 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,861 reviewer rep
1,325 forum posts

Bill S, you are correct about the fire bow, that was a typo on my part. I meant to only refer to the hand drill regarding the blisters/sores.

6:32 p.m. on August 17, 2010 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

Again this topic has strayed. I was hoping that from the normal things we carry, not specifically for fire making, you could think of things already in your packs that could be used for fire starting.

I think if I exposed my undershorts to fresh air after a few days on the trail, they would spontaneously combust. Does this fit the thread's criteria?
Ed

6:53 p.m. on August 17, 2010 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

Keep in mind for an emergency fire starter you want something that is very easy to use, as in an emergency you probally.. ..are suffering from hypothermia. Your body is shivering uncontrolably and your hands are so numb you can barely use them...

..Fill your bathtub with water, then a bunch of ice. Hop in and wait 10 minutes, then get out and see if you can use a lighter. I am willing to put money on that you can not...

..I don't recall ever seeing anyone succeed with a lighter...

..Lighters, and matches are no good in a true emergency in my personal opinion. Survival, sure they would work fine, but for a true emergency then that is a whole different animal.

Having been personally hypothermic in the wilderness, the problem with starting fires in that kind of emergency isn’t shaking, it is the lack of gripping strength in your fingers, lost due to blood being shunted from your extremities, causing both nerves and muscles to become very inefficient. I cannot comment on what sitting in an ice tub for ten minutes does, but I know about weathering two ½ hours in a high Sierra mid October rain storm wearing only shorts, cap, t-shirt, and boots (I didn’t need no stinking thermometer to determine it was figgin’ cold). EVERYTHING involving use of your fingers is difficult to manage, due to weakness, not shivering. I was able to start the lighter, but could not open the tent fly, because my fingers couldn’t grip the zipper fob tight enough (used my teeth to pull the zipper).

There are a few keys to using a lighter for emergency situations: First select a model that is easy to use. Many brands have pain in the butt safety features that make them hard to use in normal circumstances. I get lighters with designs that allow me to remove the child-proof safety locks, thus making them much easier to operate. I also select lighters that use flint and striker spark sources, versus piezo sparkers (I find the piezo starters short out when wet). The last key is preparing a drenched lighter to operate. A lighter won’t spark unless the flint, striker, and fuel nozzle are relatively dry; blowing on it for two or three minutes does the trick. Of course the old zippo lighters are even simpler to use…

I’ll go with the redundant lighters system, based on my experience with fire steels. A lighter has fewer pieces of equipment to contend with – something to consider since hypothermia also makes one incredibly stupid - and can ignite a wider variety of combustible materials, because the sustained flame allows the user to dry out damp materials, or more easily start items covered with wax, etc. Lastly a lighter requires no skill, so the greenhorn you brought along can use it with no instruction or practice. That said, Overmywader’s chemical starter using potassium permanganate looks superior to everything. The only problem I see with this is remembering where you stored the two components, but otherwise potassium permanganate appears a surefire system if ever there was one.
Ed

12:04 p.m. on August 18, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,149 forum posts

I think these old geezers are just pissy at the thought of someone who isn't at least 3/4 thier age having anything useful to add to the conversation!

;)

(the above is a joke- I greatly appreciate the wealth of knowledge and experience that "the old geezers" share here)

7:34 a.m. on August 27, 2010 (EDT)
36 reviewer rep
148 forum posts

I resemble that remark, Gonzan.

11:48 a.m. on August 27, 2010 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,308 reviewer rep
1,079 forum posts

I, too, am also sold on Potassium Permanganate and Glycerin; the multi-use properties described seem to make them very worthy, if insignificant weight-wise, items to add to my kit.

4:11 p.m. on August 27, 2010 (EDT)
TOP 25 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,702 reviewer rep
1,346 forum posts

if you use a white gas stove, splash a little white gas on some crumpled toilet paper or newspaper and light it with a waterproof match. don't stand too close.

4:23 p.m. on August 27, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
596 forum posts

"don't stand too close"

Now you tell me! I went through thirty-seven sets of eyebrows with that trick. Ah, well, they always grew back.

1:12 p.m. on August 28, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
374 forum posts

My standby that is always with me whenever I leave the car is a small container of vaseline-soaked cottonballs and a firesteel. Works every time.

2:09 p.m. on August 28, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
118 forum posts

First Aid: alcohol wipes

9:45 p.m. on August 29, 2010 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,861 reviewer rep
1,325 forum posts

I always like trying out new fire starting methods, guess it's somewhat of a hobby trying to start a fire every which a way.

So today I tried a few new methods. All fires were attempted in a Bushcooker LT 1.

First Aid Alcohol wipes, they lit easily but went out just as quick. Total burn time was maybe 5 seconds, in burned for like 2 seconds, split in two and then I had to relight it. If all of your tinder was very dry and made a little birds nest this would probally work OK. But would deffinitely not rely on it. I used two wipes, both with the same result. Neither one got it going. I was just using a fire steel, I figured a lighter would defeat the purpose of this thread. I can get a bird's nest started with just a firesteel, so in my opinion the Alcohol wipes is busted, if you have a way to make a flame or spark then you are probally better off saving them to clean a cut.

9 volt and steel wool: This worked quite well actually, caught the tinder (used small pieces of birch bark and hickory shavings for all the tests) almost immediately. The only downside I see to this is that it is using a battery, and the colder and older the battery is the less chance of it working well.

I happened to be watching Man and Woman wild today on the discovery channel and they used a pair of eyeglasses to focus sunlight to start a fire So I figured I would give this a try as well. For this I took the hickory shavings and seperated a few into a little birds nest of the fibers and put a few crumbles of the birch bark into the birds nest.

Today was a bright sunny day, which is obviously optimal for this. It took about 15-20 minutes before It really started smoking good. I was then able to easily blow the birds nest to life.

This method would probally work alot better with something like a cottonball etc. Anything with a convex lens can work, so eyeglasses, magnifying glasses, camera lenses etc.

10:27 p.m. on August 29, 2010 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,622 reviewer rep
5,396 forum posts

I happened to be watching Man and Woman wild today on the discovery channel and they used a pair of eyeglasses to focus sunlight to start a fire So I figured I would give this a try as well. For this I took the hickory shavings and seperated a few into a little birds nest of the fibers and put a few crumbles of the birch bark into the birds nest.

Today was a bright sunny day, which is obviously optimal for this. It took about 15-20 minutes before It really started smoking good. I was then able to easily blow the birds nest to life.

This method would probally work alot better with something like a cottonball etc. Anything with a convex lens can work, so eyeglasses, magnifying glasses, camera lenses etc.

Not just any eyeglasses - if there is much of an astigmatism correction, you won't get the light sufficiently concentrated.

6:11 a.m. on August 30, 2010 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,861 reviewer rep
1,325 forum posts

Oh really? That's good to know, I wonder why that is.

1:36 p.m. on August 30, 2010 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,622 reviewer rep
5,396 forum posts

Oh really? That's good to know, I wonder why that is.

Basic optics - astigmatism is corrected by having the lens slightly cylindrical rather than spherically symmetric. Thus the focal distance along one axis is slightly longer than along the other axis. A typical correction might be 1 diopter on one axis and 1.5 diopters along the other axis, putting the focus point for the sun's image at 1 meter for one axis and 2/3 meter for the other axis (just over a foot different in position). The image will look like a line that switches position as you move the lens in and out rather than a small almost pinpoint circle as it would with a spherical lens (no astigmatism).

This image is of a circularly symmetric magnifying glass. The pictures were all taken at a bit of angle, so there is a slight distortion and the sun's image is not quite in focus (it would be about 1/10 the size, but it's hard to handhold and look through the viewfinder at the same time). Notice that the sun's image is circular. This one lit the paper in about 5 seconds.

The next two are of a pair of reading glasses with a 2 diopter correction and an additional 1 diopter cylinder. I moved between the two focal positions, so note that the axis of the linear "in focus" image of the sun changes by 90 deg orientation. These did not light the paper.

When the idea of using eyeglasses to start fires (and the "epidemic" eyeglass fires from eyeglasses sitting on a desk in front of a window in the sun) came up, all eyeglasses were simple magnifiers, like the ones sold in your corner drug store on the big racks. They were spherical lenses with no astigmatism correction. Now that the astigmatism correction is added, glasses are thinner and much lighter, a great benefit to eyeglass wearers. In the past 10 years, methods of adding an astigmatism correction to contacts have been developed, and the laser correction procedures can now deal with astigmatism as well. Simple definition of astigmatism - the lens is not spherically symmetrical, but is more like a cylinder.

7:56 p.m. on August 31, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
118 forum posts

Les Stroud started a fire with a headlamp on Survivorman.

http://lesstroud.ca/fieldjournal/survivorman-sierra-nevada

Look at Day 3-Night

December 26, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: Wood Burning stove Newer: bibler tents
All forums: Older: For Sale: MSR WhisperLite Internationale Stove Newer: Body of missing climber lost 21 year ago found in Jasper National Park