's post a week or so back about science experiments for kids combined with some stuff from an older post of ysabetwordsmith
's about emerrgency preparedness kits to remind me of my collection of stuff for starting fires As well as a few things I don't currently have, but have used in the past.
Okay, first thing you need is a source of heat. Without that you aren't getting anywhere.
Next you need some sort of tinder for the heat to ignite. If you are carrying it, rather than improvising with what you can find, you need it in a waterproof container.
Ok, sources of heat (more or less in order from primitive to modern):Carrying coals or a flame
with you: Doable, but tricky. The container needs to be well insulated, and there are other concerns.friction
: the classic rubbing two sticks together, firebows, etc. Doable, but takes a bit of skill and is *hard* work.Compression
: The fire piston. Doable, but hard to find/make.Flint and steel
(or flint and pyrite). Doable, but requires practice to avoid damaging yourself.
There are a lot of ways to do this. You can grab a properly shaped (sort of a wedge shape) piece of flint and try to strike sparks from a piece of iron pyrite.
Or you can hit a historical re-enactor group that does the traders/trappers type stuff and pick up a flint and a fire steel (piece of iron shape like the letter C) You hold the fire steel sort ofg like a pair of brass knuckles and strike the flint downward, at an angle to produce sparks. Watch out for your fingers!
You can take a chunk of a broken grindstone and a "worn out" file and make sparks by strike the stone against the file.
Or, you can buy a neat item available from a number of sources. It's a metal rod with a handle. The rod is made of the same weird alloy they use for lighter flints. They usually include a piece of steel suitable for striking agianst it to create sparks. You strike at an angle like you were trying to shave off bits of the rtod. *Huge* showers of sparks. and the piece of steel is usually attached to the handle by a thing.lenses and mirrors
: a large enough magnifying glass (at least 4" in my experience) will concentrate enough sunlight on a large enough area to ignite a piece of dry wood. And a "shaving mirror (or other concave mirror can do it as well. Both require a sunny day.
Radio Shack used to sell a "solar cigarette lighter" which was a small concave mirror with a set of folding "prongs" that'd hold the tip of the cigarette at the focal point. Worked for other things as well.
A bit large, but quite suitable. Modern LCD TVs and monitors have a fresnel lens as part of the screen. Take apart (carefully) a dead monitor, and you can often salvage the lens. Be warned. These will concentrate *dangerous* amounts of sunlight. As in you can melt *metal* with the larger ones.matches and lighters
: matches need to be kept in a waterproof container. Lighters, may need to have the same.Electricity
: you can get sparks from a battery to start a fire. Probably takes at least a 9V. Not that practical in most cases. Though it works well if yoiur tinder is steel wool. Might work with magnesium shavings.
Ok, now for tinder. And remember, *all* varieties of tinder need to be kept dry, and an airtight container isn't out of line.
"punk" wood is an old standby. This is basically partially rotted (dry rot) wood.
Char cloth is another. This is squares of cotton or linen cloth (*not* wool or synthetics!) that have been heated (preferably in a container that restricts airflow) until they are "charred". Not black but beyond "golden brown. Either get it at a reenactor event or *carefully* experiment with making your own.
Steel wool. The kind *without* added detergents and crap. You want the fine grade. Tear off a *small* piece and put the rest back in the airtight container. This stuff ignites *very* readily. And since it burns white hot you *really* don't want to be holding it. Or having it sitting on anything you don't want to burn!
Magnesium. A lot of those high-tech flint rods have a second rod mounted in the handle. a magnesium rod. You can shave off tiny bits of magnesium with the same bit of steel you use for striking the sparks. And once this catches, it'll ignite even *wet* wood.
Some gun shows and the like will sell you containers of powdered magnesium to save you the trouble of shaving off bits. A warning hear, this *will* absorb water over time and turn into a sold chunk. And in the case of the one I bought split the plastic container in the process.
And, even moreso than with steel wool, you don't ignite this stuff when it's sitting on anything you *don't* want to burn.
I've seen folks do the friction method, never got anywhere with it myself. I've seen a demo of a fire piston in a chemistry class.
I've tried a fire steel and flint. Takes practice to strike sparks and *not* gash your fingers. Never tried the flint and pyrite trick, but I've read about it.
I own several of the high tech flints, a couple with the magnesium rods. I own several magnifying glasses that I *have* started fires with.
I've actually done the file and broken grindstone bit at a boy scout event. the tinder was steel wool, and we were burning dry pine needles. It was a race to see who could boil water first.
I hgave the solar cigarette lighter, as well as several magnifying glasses that I've lit fires with.
And I have strike anywhere matches in a pocket sized match safe, as well as a few butane lighters.