Creative Fire-Starting Techniques

Why do people prepare to survive dire emergencies when the odds – for most of us, at least – that something on the order of Oh-My-Freaking-Gourd! are so unlikely? The answer is simple:

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Although the phrase is attributed to American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, the words still ring true today. If you don’t get your sh*t together now, Bad Things are bound to happen in a SHTF scenario when the world as you know it flies apart.

In this push-button era of modern convenience, it is almost inconceivable for most of us to imagine life without electricity, the life spark of household furnaces, stoves and ranges, and lighting fixtures.

Yet, a recent disaster, Hurricane Florence, had the force to shut off power to large residential areas in the Carolina states. As of Sunday, September 16, 2018, after Flo was downgraded to a tropical storm, “670,000 people remained without power in North Carolina,” according to Newsweek.

The reality is that any number of events could turn off the electrical juice with little to no warning: flood, fire, or mass coronal ejection (solar flare), to name but three. Would you be able to cope on a daily basis if you had to produce your own heat sources to cook food, stay warm, and provide light?

For those whose answer was not an enthusiastic “You bet I could!” here are some creative ideas to solve the perennial problem of creating useful fire.

For starters – so to speak – the intelligent prepper stocks up on extra cigarette lighters and permanent and/or Everstryke matches. Heck, even restaurant matches are better than nothing. Get in the habit of picking up free matches whenever you see them. Keep them in waterproof containers.

Add extra lighters to your shopping list and gradually build up a good supply. I recommend you put your faith in the superior quality of Bic products:

“Full sized Bic lighters are supposed to burn for an hour, though not continuously. Mini Bic lighters contain less fuel and generally burn for around twenty minutes. However, if you light it and keep it lit, your lighter has around ten minutes before the top starts to deform from the heat.”

Although Bic claims that their larger lighters, when full, can be flicked to make a flame 3,000 times, survivalists should have some mini Bic lighters as well since they can operate upside down. Their worn flints are easier to replace, too – assuming you remembered to get some replacement flints.

It takes more than a small open flame to start a fire, as anyone who has gone camping or lit a fireplace knows. Highly flammable tinder is also required. So what, exactly, is tinder, you ask?

“Tinder is a finely divided, open material which will begin to glow under a shower of sparks. Air is gently wafted over the glowing tinder until it bursts into flame. The flaming tinder is used to ignite kindling, which in turn is used to ignite the bulk material, to produce a fire.”

Following are some flame and tinder sources you may have overlooked, even if you are a well-seasoned prepper:

1. Pair up a butane lighter with the frayed end of some ordinary twine.
2. Use an Everstryke Pro lighter to ignite a clean tampon that has been teased apart to expose more fiber.
3. Light a candle with an ordinary match.
4. Get some stormproof matches and set fire to a wad of steel wool. Seriously, the metallic threads burn great!
5. Take a double-A (AA) sized battery and a gum wrapper. With scissors, cut the wrapper into strips that are wider at the ends than in the middle. Hold each end of the thin, foiled-paper strip to the opposite ends of the battery. The middle of the strip will begin to smoke and catch fire. Alternatively, substitute some thin wire for the gum wrapper strips. (You may not want to share this tip with the kids. Just sayin’.)
6. Light a small pile of charcoal with an Everstryke match.
7. Buy a FireKable paracord bracelet. Dip several cotton balls in Vaseline (petroleum jelly) to coat them thoroughly, one at a time. Cluster them together and torch ’em.
8. Walmart sells 8-packs of ferrocerium rods, which produce sparks of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter when scraped with a rough edge like a rock, or a sharp edge like a knife. Pile up a handful of dry leaves. Hold a single rod in one hand and strike it away from you (duh) with the other to set the leaves aflame.
9. Use an optic fire starter – also called a magnifying glass fire starter to focus a beam of light (from the sun or a high-wattage bulb) on a handful of wood shavings to ignite them.
10. Take an ordinary pencil and remove the eraser, leaving only the exterior wood and graphite center. Scrape or whittle the pencil in half with a knife or sharp rock to expose the graphite core. Pop the hood on a car or truck and attach one end of a battery cable (black to negative and red to positive) to the charged battery. Attach the other two battery cable clips to the split pencil, one on each end. Make sure that the copper teeth on the battery cable clips make contact (touch) the pencil graphite. Within seconds, the pencil will begin to smoke and within a minute or two the half-pencil will burst into flames. (Again, you may not want to share this tip with small children.)
11. These everyday items make great tinder, believe it or not:
Doritos snack chips
Alcohol swabs that come in little foil-lined packets

Remember, in a true emergency, creative thinking “outside the box” is one of your greatest strengths. Renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow said, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Expand your mind and explore all your options when the survival of you and your loved ones depends on it.