ALTERNATIVE WAYS TO START A FIRE WITHOUT MATCHES
It has happened to every Aussie camper at some point in their experience. The fire is made and the food is ready to be cooked but then who has the matches? Nobody remembered to pick them up? A lighter? Nothing. There are some nifty alternative ways to make a fire without matches. Here are a few of them.
THE HAND DRILL
The most common method seen in movies. The hand drill requires hands of steel, determination, and the willpower to invest a lot of time and probably the skin off your palms, into the task at hand. You need to make a small nest out of tinder-like dried leaves or grass. Cut a V shape into a piece of wood and make a small depression next to it. The V shape will catch the sparks so be sure to place a piece of bark under it. Find a stick around 2 feet long and, while maintaining pressure on the wooden board, spin it quickly between your palms. Keep going, moving your hands down the stick, until the friction forms an ember. Drop the ember through the V onto your bark and transfer it to the kindling. With a little coaxing and gentle persuasion, this should ignite your fire.
To make this method easier, if you have access to some string (I have managed to do this with a shoelace out of my Converse All Stars) you can construct a bow to save your hands the strain. You will need a flexible piece of wood, around 2 or 3 feet long to create the bow. Once you have it you will need to create downward pressure on the board while you saw with the bow. This can be achieved by placing a stone on top of the bow.
That is how to do. Doing it well so you can actually start a fire is another matter. It definitely takes some practice.
THE MAGNIFYING GLASS
If you were one of those kids on the edge of the playground melting little plastic soldiers, this will be no trouble for you. For those that don’t know, any lens which focuses sunlight can create enough heat to start a fire. By covering the lens in clear water, you can actually make the beam stronger.
For this to work, you just need to place your tinder nest on the ground, cover the lens in water and tilt it towards the sun. Make sure you are focussing the rays onto your nest and wait. Eventually it will become hot enough to ignite. This method requires absolute sunshine and won’t work on days with cloud cover or in the evening when the sun is not at its strongest.
USING A CONDOM
You can actually make a fire with just water, condom and the sun’s rays. Similar to a magnifying glass, if you fill a condom with water and tie the end off you can use it to focus the sun’s rays. Once it is filled with water, squeeze the shape until it creates a smaller spherical shape that gives off a circle of light. Holding the condom a few inches from the tinder nest should focus the light enough to start a fire.
There are other objects you can use for this purpose, such as balloons, fizzy drink cans which can be polished to function as a mirror and even really clear ice! You have to hold them much closer to the tinder to start the fire but these objects are all able to focus the light with enough intensity to start a fire.
There is nothing worse than getting stuck without a fire when it comes time to cook or stay warm when you really need to. The easiest way is to carry a couple of lighters and make sure you keep them wrapped in ziplock bags.
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