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survival firecraft vaseline cotton balls

Survival Kit Component: Magnesium Stick & Vaseline Cotton Balls

my fire kit - ferrocerium rod and magnesium bar

Fire isn’t more useful than when you find yourself in a survival situation. Perhaps you believe lightning fire won’t be a problem as you always carry a lighter or matches. Lighters run out of fuel, get wet or perhaps stop working. Matches may become useless by staying in your pocket or if exposed to rain, snow or submerged in water. Never depend on matches as your exclusive method of fire starting.

Bring alternative ways of starting a fire like a magnesium stick with a sparker. The magnesium stick is straightforward to use and is great at starting fires even if the tinder is damp because it generates a flame source of over 2500°C. Believe it or not, magnesium stick is my primary fire starter even if i absolutely love primitive methods such as the bow drill.

In order to start a fire you can even use cotton balls which were soaked with petroleum jelly (vaseline). Collect dry tinder, break up the cotton ball somewhat, and put close to the tinder. Hold the magnesium fire starter stick block in one hand and the knife in the other. Scrape small shavings off along one side over the cotton ball. The scraping puts small particles of magnesium on the cotton ball.

petroleum jelly (vaseline) cotton balls on fireUsing the striker strip and the back of a fixed bladed knife apply pressure and push the knife blade along the striker toward the cotton ball. One or two sparks will ignite the cotton. A 2×2 cm ball will burn 5 to 10 minutes, long enough to ignite even a damp tinder.

Never use the back of a folding knife blade unless it has a locking mechanism. The blade can fold up on your fingers.

Remember: it’s essential to train with the magnesium stick wherever possible so during a real life emergency, you’ll start a fire faster.

curly birch handled fire striker  steel ferocerium rod

Survival Kit Component: Ferrocerium Rod

Many of us go on trips far away from the comfort of civilization without always thinking about how to correctly prepare ourselves should the worst happen. But nobody ever plans to be in a survival situation, so we should always carry a basic survival kit with us on these types of excursions.

A basic survival kit means just that. It’s a basic kit, separate from the normal provisions you would carry, because it’s something you will hopefully never use. You should consider the basic things you would need to keep yourself alive.

You should carry something to transport water (condoms without spermicide work well), something to catch or trap food, something to help keep dry (a tarp will do) and something to start fires with.

One of the hardest, yet most essential skills in survival situations is to start a fire. There are numerous ways to start fires without equipment, yet many of these methods take many years to perfect. They also often rely on you being in an environment which is suitable. For example; you could be in an environment where the ground is sodden, after many days of consecutive rain. Even after many years of practice with fire-starting techniques, you are not guaranteed to be able to start a fire in these conditions.

How to always guarantee a fire in a survival situation with a ferrocerium rod.

Two of the best items you can pack into a survival kit is a ferrocerium rod and some kind of kindling. The ferrocerium rod will give off a number of very hot sparks when struck with an object such as; a knife or a sharp stone. You should ensure that these sparks then land on your kindling. Cotton wool will work well as kindling and packs easily into a small survival kit.

Once the kindling begins to ignite, you should then try and spread the fire to the smallest and driest twigs and fauna you have been able to gather. Eventually you will be able to start burning logs and keep the fire going. Sheltering the fire and surrounding it with stones can help keep it going for many days, in all conditions.

 

So why is fire so important?

There are several reasons why it ranks so highly on the list of things to consider in a survival situation. The first, is obviously warmth. In a cold environment, the effect of the cold can quickly accumulate, with your core body temperature staying low throughout the day, even with the sun in the sky, from the night before. As night falls this may leave you prone to hypothermia. Which is one of the biggest killers in the great outdoors.

Secondly. It’s important for cooking food. In winter months, it may be that the only food you can find is that which you have trapped, or fished for. You should obviously cook meat before eating.

It’s also important because passing aircraft, or someone a few miles away may be able to see the smoke and come to your aid.

Amongst the other benefits are for hygiene (smoke cleanses the clothes and the body), allowing you to boil water (which can kill some harmful bacteria) and also as a moral booster.

All of this can be achieved by packing a small ferrocerium rod and a bit of kindling. Which is light to carry and only costs a few dollars.

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fire making methods

6 Fire Making Categories

There are numerous ways to light a fire but you can categorize them in 6 classes.

1. Fire By Friction

Friction methods create fire rubbing linearly or rotationally a surface against another surface.

Fire Plow

In this method a stick is rapidly rubbed against the groove of a long piece of wood to produce hot dust. Then the hot dust is transferred to the tinder, and blowed until it ignites.

Fire Saw

The fire saw method produces friction by using a piece of wood as a saw over an other piece.

Fire Thong

A strong piece of wood is kept in position with your foot, and a narrow thong of cane or other appropriate material is looped around it. The friction is generated by pulling the ends of the thong alternately so that it is sawn across the stick or post producing a fine hot dust.

Hand Drill

The hand drill method requires a thin stick to be quickly rotated with the hands against a fire board. The fire board is simply a flat piece of wood with a notch. The prolonged rotation combined with downward pressure generates a black hot dust in the nick of the fire board. The dust is properly transferred on a tinder nest and blown gradually until a flame starts.

Strap Drill

To make the hand drill method easier you can add more pressure by looping cordage between two thumbs and over the top of the fire drill

Bow Drill

The bow drill method uses a bow to rotate a spindle against a fire board. The Bow drill requires less effort because the bow transforms the linear movement of your arm in a powerful rotation, and with the free hand you can apply much more pressure downward.

Fire Pump

A fire pump is enhancement of the bow drill. A rope is coiled around the spindle to create friction on a fire board.

 

2. Fire By Compression

This methods uses the heat of compression to ignite a tinder. In modern days, the same principle has been used to develop the Diesel engine.

Fire piston

A fire piston is a device composed by a tube with one sealed end and a piston that can run inside the tube. The piston has a small depression where the tinder is placed. When the piston is swiftly pushed into the tube, the air is violently compressed igniting the tinder.

 

3. Fire By Percussion

Percussion is a kind of friction that happens in an instant.

Flint & Steel

Flint is a family of very hard rocks (8 on the Mohs hardness scale). When a flint is stricken against a piece of steel (5-6.5 hardness), it peels a tiny piece of steel off and ignite it.

Ferrocerium rod fire starters

This method is definitely the modern version of the Flint & Steel method. The flint is replaced by a hard scraper while the steel is replaced by a ferrocerium rod. Ferrocerium consists of an alloy containing Cerium, Lanthanum, Iron, Magnesium, Praseodymium and Neodymium. When it’s scraped it produce very hot (1650 °C) sparks.

 

4. Fire By Sun

This class of methods employs a condensing reflector to focus sun’s rays to a single point, producing an intense heat. The condensing reflector can be:

  • a lens (solid or liquid filled) such as magnifying lenses, a plastic bag filled with water or a very clear piece of ice.
  • a concave mirror such as a pop can bottom

5. Fire By Electricity

Electric Resistance

This method employs electricity on an object with electric resistance. When the object is red hot it ignites the tinder.

Spark

Electricity is used to generate a spark to ignite a gas or a fluid.

 

6. Fire By Chemical Reaction

There are few ways to produce fire by chemical reaction:

  • potassium permanganate and glycerin (few drops of water can accelerate the reaction)
  • acetone, sulfuric acid and potassium permanganate
  • sodium chlorate, sugar and sulfuric acid
  • ammonium nitrate, zinc and hydrochloric acid

Modern Mixed Methods

Modern fire methods as matches o lighters fall in more than a class (friction/percussion and chemical classes). Matches are small piece of woods coated with chemicals and ignited by friction. Lighters employ ferrocerium or electricity to spark butane or gasoline fuel.